The Broadway-bound musical The Nutty Professor, based on the 1963 Jerry Lewis film, made its world premiere last week at Nashville’s Polk Theater to enthusiastic out-of-town reviews. For the record, the creative team includes Rupert Holmes (book, lyrics), Marvin Hamlisch (music), Jerry Lewis (direction), JoAnn M. Hunter (choreography), David Gallo (sets), Ann Hould-Ward (costumes), David Weiner (lights), John Shiver and David Patridge (sound), and Tom Watson (wigs). The cast includes Michael Andrew (Julius Kelp/Buddy Love), Marissa McGowan (Stella Purdy), Mark Jacoby (Dr. Warfield), Klea Blackhurst (Miss Lemon), Jamie Ross (Harrington Winslow), and Ronnie Nelson (Norm Brodkowski).
Evans Donnell (Arts Nash): The Nutty Professor entertains in grand American musical comedy style. Broadway should want it – they’d be truly nutty to pass on this funny, charming show. … As with other new theater works there are components that aren’t essential. To avoid misunderstanding, I don’t think anything in The Nutty Professor as now presented is bad; theirs is an embarrassment of riches. … The Nutty Professor is a show that fondly embraces a Golden-Age-of-American-Musicals ethos; the entertaining journey we take with Julius Kelp and Stella Purdy is the optimistic theatrical trip we once took with such characters as J. Pierrepont Finch and Rosemary Pilkington from How to Succeed.
Jeffrey Ellis (Broadway World): A vibrantly told and visually stunning production … offers plenty of laughs to be certain, but perhaps surprisingly, there’s a whole lot of heart to be found in Rupert Holmes’ book, set tunefully to a classic Marvin Hamlisch score. … But the most noteworthy aspect of The Nutty Professor is, without danger of exaggeration, the amazing choreography of JoAnn M. Hunter. … It’s an old-fashioned, nostalgic homage to the very best of American musical theater without seeming at all derivative or redundant. … Should you go see The Nutty Professor? Without a doubt. You’ll want to tell the story of being on-hand for the start of a Broadway fable.
Mike Parker (Examiner): The Nutty Professor was an absolute delight, from start to finish, top to bottom and everywhere in-between. What was good about it? Well, just about everything: music, performances, dance numbers, set design, costume, etc. … The actors in The Nutty Professor were stellar. Michael Andrew in the iconic dual roles of Julius Kelp and Buddy Love channeled Lewis’s original performance to a T, and Marissa McGowan was simply adorable as the spunky Stella Purdy. … I have to throw out special kudos to choreographer JoAnn M. Hunter. The dancing, which really took center stage during the second act, was fun, flirty, and even sexy. … Bottom line: I loved this show.
Amy Stumpfl (Tennesseean): This charming musical may just have found the formula for future success on Broadway. … What is most astonishing is Andrew’s ability to maneuver back and forth between such distinctive characters. This quick-change artistry is impressive. … Marissa McGowan also is terrific as Stella Purdy, offering a sweet, but decidedly self-assured interpretation of the role. … But it is Klea Blackhurst who nearly steals the show as Miss Lemon. … JoAnn M. Hunter’s wildly imaginative choreography is simply dazzling, offering a nice balance between retro dance moves and more artistic influences. … Don’t miss it!