Outrageous

British theater gets weirder: Anna Nicole Smith's life becomes an opera

British theater gets weirder: Anna Nicole Smith's life becomes an opera

The British have long been obsessed with celebrity culture. They also have a long history of outlandish theater. Put the two together and you have the production set to premiere Feb. 17, 2011, at London's Royal Opera House: "Anna Nicole."

And it's not just any kitchy little production about Playboy pinup/heartbroken mom/cautionary reality TV tale Anna Nicole Smith. Celebrated composer Mark-Anthony Turnage has been set to create the homage to the colorful and controversial Anna Nicole with Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek in the title role.

The Guardian probably puts it best, characterizing Smith's life as "tragicomic." But Covent Garden's director of opera Elaine Padmore tells the paper, "It is not going to be tawdry; it is going to be witty, clever, thoughtful and sad."

The writer of "Anna Nicole" has been down this road before. Richard Thomas was co-creater of "Jerry Springer, The Opera." That show that was so controversial — and so considered beneath the London opera's standards — that its 2005 premiere triggered street protests.

I'm interested to see what the Brits do with this American story — will they play up Anna Nicole's Playboy heydey? Her marriage to an oil tycoon 63 years her senior? Her short-lived reality TV stardom?

And how will her 2007 death due to an accidental overdose at age 39 be portrayed? (Tastefully, we're sure).

I'm just hoping for an elaborate TrimSpa number.

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Anna Nicole Smith