Nashville’s Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) will play host this summer to the world premiere of The Nutty Professor, a new musical comedy directed by the King of Comedy himself, Jerry Lewis.
The Broadway at TPAC Special Event will run from July 24 to August 19 in TPAC’s James K. Polk Theater. Featuring music by Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line) and a book and lyrics by three-time Tony Award winner Rupert Holmes (The Mystery of Edwin Drood), The Nutty Professor is based on the classic 1963 film in which Lewis starred and co-wrote.
“The film that I made in 1963 was so good that I decided to do a Broadway show. And there’s no better place to go to find out what you’ve got than Nashville. This musical will be spectacular for a couple of reasons. One, I’m directing it,” Lewis explains.
“Two, I have Michael Andrew, who is one of the best talents to come down the pike in 50 years. And I’m surrounding him with one of a kind creative people, like Marvin Hamlisch, Rupert Holmes, and me…After it’s over, give me a call and let me know if everything I said was spot on.”
"Music is truly an international language and it has the ability to bring people together like nothing else... except comedy,” says Marvin Hamlisch. “It's a thrill to be working with Jerry Lewis, a true king of comedy, and bringing this classic story to life on Broadway with music."
"Jerry Lewis has been my hero from boyhood, not only as one of the most gifted entertainers of all time but also as one of the grand masters of movie-making,” says Rupert Holmes. “To work with Jerry and the vivid cast of characters he created is a privilege and thrill beyond measure.”
Actor, singer and entertainer Michael Andrew will star in this new production as Professor Julius Kelp. Andrew, who counts Lewis and the film as principal influences on his career, worked with executive producer Ned McLeod and Lewis to bring the production to the stage.
Mac Pirkle, co-founder and former artistic director for Tennessee Repertory Theater and a 2010 First Night Honoree, is also producing.
Inspired by the film—recently named one of the top 100 comedies of the century by the American Film Institute—the musical follows geeky chemistry Professor Kelp, who concocts a formula to turn himself into the ultimate heartthrob. Utilizing elements of classic comedy, the creators of The Nutty Professor are working to redefine what an American musical comedy can be—funny with a fabulous score and characters that resonate with the audience.
“All Broadway shows start somewhere. With Nashville’s community of creative professionals and its passionate theatergoers, it’s the perfect place for this major event,” said Kathleen O’Brien, President and Chief Executive Officer of TPAC and another 2010 First Night Honoree.
“We’re excited to provide audiences the rare opportunity to be part of the creation of a Broadway musical before it premieres in New York. As the production develops, audiences may see scenes, lines, or whole songs added or removed. Those seeing the show the first week and again the last week will see a real evolution of the production.”
Having the new musical production in Nashville for seven weeks is expected to bring large numbers of both residents and visitors downtown and generate additional economic activity.
“Nashville has a strong and well-deserved reputation for cultural and performing arts and as a place for the creation of art, music and theater,” says Nashville mayor Karl Dean. “We are honored to host Jerry Lewis and his new musical production, as its premiere here further underscores that Music City is a place for artists to create and succeed. I am grateful for the opportunities this production will give to the pool of highly talented local actors and others in the theater business that are here, and, once open, I look forward to the energy and economic activity the show will add to our downtown area.”