Watch for the front page of the arts section in Sunday's The New York Times print edition, where Dave Itzkoff profiles Jerry Lewis on the eve of next week's opening of The Nutty Professor. Lewis has been directing the musical version of his 1963 classic at TPAC, where it opens for a month's trial run next Tuesday. It's a juicy, colorful piece, balancing concerns about the musical as an unknown quantity — and about the octogenarian director's health — with Lewis' brazenness and enthusiasm for the project:
BEFORE anyone could put him on a pedestal, Jerry Lewis was already elevated in a tall director’s chair here in his dressing room suite underneath the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Yet from this height, in a chair with his name embroidered in red stitching across the front, he insisted that he was not here to be idolized, not by his fans and certainly not by the company he is directing — yes, directing — in a coming stage-musical adaptation of “The Nutty Professor.”
He was dressed in a black shirt monogrammed with his initials and black loafers bearing the masks of comedy and tragedy. But aside from these flashier affectations of showbiz, Mr. Lewis, 86, made little effort to disguise his fragility. He used a mobility scooter to navigate the labyrinthine arts center and wore a pair of earphones connected to a microphone to help him better hear an interviewer’s questions.
Itzkoff was in the crowd for this press conference last week at TPAC. Hat tip to Scene theater critic Martin Brady for the video above. See next week's Scene for full coverage, including a meeting of the minds no one will want to miss: Jerry Lewis and the Scene's Jack Silverman.