The Shofar is the ancient trumpet which called the people of God to prayer, repentance, sacrifice and war.

Friday 21th February 2005: 5.00pm

Cancer charity escapes PR disaster as 'Springer' closes

The decision of a Scottish cancer charity not to accept £10 a ticket from what was billed as a gala performance of Jerry Springer the Opera on Friday afternoon has been vindicated by the news that only 200 to 300 people turned up for the event.  Maggie’s Centres were told by Christian Voice the day before that they would alienate potential donors by their association with the show, which has now closed at the 1,222 seater Cambridge Theatre in London ’s Covent Garden.

Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, said today: “We were pleased to play a part in alerting Maggie’s Centres to the potential public relations disaster of profiting from filth and blasphemy.  Maggie’s Centres declined a possible £3,000 but they will gain that money many times over.  Their decision to respect their Christian staff, patients and donors has been vindicated by the derisory turn-out for the one-off gala performance.  It must have been mortifying for the cast to play to a three-quarters empty house.” 

The decision to end the run of Jerry Springer the Opera was taken after an expected rise in attendance after the musical was shown on BBC2 failed to materialise.  Insiders at the theatre privately concede that numbers have been falling for months, and the show’s closure was inevitable.  The producers are currently looking for venues across the UK to take the show on tour from the autumn.  The Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, the Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre and Croydon’s Fairfield Halls have been mentioned as possible hosts so far.

Stephen Green said: “The announcement of the tour may well be putting a brave face on a closure forced by dwindling audiences.  When we have held midweek vigils, the theatre can only have been half-full, and theatre-goers on Friday and Saturday have told us that they have only gone to ‘Jerry Springer’ because they could not get tickets for anything else.  A lot of people go to London and have to ‘take in a show.’  If they can’t get to see something like Les Miserables or Phantom of the Opera, Little Women or The Woman in White, they end up with Jerry Springer the Opera.  The same dynamic will not drive audiences in around the rest of the UK .”  

For the past four weekends, there was a Christian vigil on Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night at the Cambridge Theatre.  The vigils were mainly led by local ministers, and were blessed by God with enough people at every performance to distribute leaflets at each entrance to the theatre.  Protestors have engaged with the public and also managed to speak to members of the cast including David Soul.  Stephen Green said: “David Soul, who told one minister he is a Christian from a good Lutheran family, is particularly upset at our leaflet’s description of his character as the Antichrist.  But as Jerry Springer emerges at the end as the saviour of mankind, taking the place of Jesus Christ, I can think of no other description.  I pray now the gates have closed on Jerry Springer the Opera at the Cambridge that no-one ever has to step on stage in that role again.”

On the last night, 24 protesters gathered to hand out leaflets, speak to passers-by and witness to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  “As the show began for the last time, we sang hymns of praise to God, to show that the devil does not have all the best tunes,” said Stephen Green, “Indeed, having seen ‘Jerry Springer the Opera,’ I can say he doesn’t even have that many passable ones.  We prayed that God would bless the West End with the Gospel, that there would be those who had taken a leaflet who would find God doing a work of repentance in their hearts, and that Jerry Springer the Opera would not open anywhere else.  Londoners and those within easy reach of the West End have played their part.  It is now up to Christians in the rest of the UK.   We celebrated the end of Jerry Springer the Opera at the Cambridge Theatre, but we now need to pray it doesn’t open anywhere else.   Certainly, with an action against the BBC and the musical’s producers for blasphemy due to start any day now, it will be a brave, or foolhardy, theatre management which will put it on.  It is my hope that Jerry Springer the Opera will achieve pariah status in the regions, and that no local theatre will even think of staging it.  Our members will be watching their local theatres closely.”