The Nutty Professor began performances at Nashville’s Tennessee Performing Arts Center on July 24. The world premiere musical adaptation is based on the 1963 movie of the same name. Director Jerry Lewis, the film’s original writer, director and star has taken on the project. It features music by Tony Award winner Marvin Hamlisch, book and lyrics by Tony Award winner Rupert Holmes.
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, 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.
“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 said with his signature sense of humor. “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.”
The creative team for The Nutty Professor includes music director Todd Ellison, choreographer JoAnn M. Hunter, set designer David Gallo, costume designer Ann Hould-Ward and dance arrangements by David Dabbon.
The Broadway-bound production will play a limited engagement through August 19 at the James K. Polk Theater.