A new reality for American musicals

Tired of stage musicals inspired by movies and pop catalogs? Maybe reality TV series will be the next fertile source of material.

Last year, “Jerry Springer -- The Opera” led the way in London. And although its U.S. premiere in San Francisco was recently scratched as its creators were preoccupied elsewhere, it has been announced that “The Opera” will return to its roots on TV. BBC2 is shooting a performance of the musical -- to be televised, four-letter words intact, in January.

Starring in the title role, on stage now as well as on the British TV version, is David Soul, a genuine TV star (“Starsky & Hutch”) of a pre-Springer era.

In Southern California, “American Bandstand,” one of the benign granddaddies of the reality TV genre, is on its way to the musical stage. L.A.-based co-producer Michael Pratter said the musical will open at San Diego’s 600-seat Joan B. Kroc Theatre on April 1 in hopes of a five-month run.


Michael Wulffhart will write and direct the project, which will tell the story of a family’s quest to appear on the dance-party show, to the accompaniment of period tunes.

Meanwhile, the replacement for “Jerry Springer -- The Musical” in its San Francisco tryout slot is “The Mambo Kings,” one of those old-school musicals based on a movie and -- even older-school -- a novel (“The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love,” by Oscar Hijuelos). “Mambo Kings” is scheduled for May 24 to June 19 at the Golden Gate Theatre, followed by an Aug. 18 opening on Broadway.

-- Don Shirley