"Nutty Professor" Musical Has Comic Jerry Lewis As A Savvy Director
Comic legend Jerry Lewis is back in the entertainment spotlight with the time with the screen-to-stage transfer of his international hit "The Nutty Professor," and he is at the helm of its world premiere in Nashville, Tennessee. NY1's Frank DiLella filed this exclusive one-on-one TV interview with Lewis.
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He's the original king of comedy who's conquered Hollywood, Broadway and everything in between. Now at age 86, the legendary Jerry Lewis is exploring new entertainment turf as he makes his musical theater directorial debut with the film-to-stage transfer of his 1963 hit "The Nutty Professor."
Nerdy scientist Julius Kelp and his suave alter-ego Buddy Love take to the musical stage in this world premiere, now playing at The Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville.
Lewis was unexpectedly pitched the project by the show's producer, Ned McLeod, and the eventual leading actor, Michael Andrew, back in 2005.
"I committed to doing the show only if I directed it," Lewis says. "I said, you have to understand, I never contemplated doing anything with it."
Once Lewis was sold, he signed off an A-list creative team including composer Marvin Hamlisch and book writer and lyricist Rupert Holmes.
"It's an interesting combination because I'm the lead writer, because I wrote the original material, and working with them was just a blast. And they make me better when I'm with them," Lewis says.
Andrew, who tackles the title character in the show, is a relatively unknown performer in theater circles. He has been a die-hard Jerry Lewis fan since the age of nine and says having Lewis' blessing with this project is a dream come true.
"When I saw the film and when I saw the magic that Jerry did of acting, it really made an impression on me," Andrew says. "Especially those two characters and how opposed they were, how different from each other. And I thought it was a great illusion."
As for passing the baton, or beaker, from one professor to the next, Lewis says, "He's so good that the fear of comparison never entered the picture."
While "The Nutty Professor" is scheduled to play at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center through mid-August, Lewis says he hopes to see the show on Broadway in the near future.