LAST week to see this delightful and side-splittingly hilarious play with musical interludes. Souvenir, Stephen Temperley”™s bio-comedy, is surprisingly entertaining. I say “˜surprisingly”™ because it tells the tale of a long forgotten New York “˜celebrity,”™ of sorts.
In a public “˜career”™ that spanned from 1912 to 1944, Florence Foster Jenkins (played beautifully by Constance Hauman) was notorious in her day for performing annual concerts to great acclaim and equal derision. You see, Jenkins was a simply appalling singer! She was an American soprano who became famous for her complete lack of rhythm, pitch, tone, and overall singing ability. And yet, somehow, Jenkins never interpreted the tears and the stifled and sometimes howling laughter that emanated from the audience as anything but adulation.
It”™s a beguiling conceit that examines the gap between the music we hear in our head and our hearts, and that same melody as heard and experienced by those around us. You only have to listen to those clueless and downright talentless hopefuls caterwauling their way through painful auditions on American Idol to know that there are plenty of deluded people out there who honestly think they can sing, and who clearly have never even bothered to listen back to their attempts, either.
In the early 20th century, socialite Florence Foster Jenkins carved out for herself a unique spot as an opera diva in New York, apparently oblivious to the pure fact that she could not carry a tune nor sing a note with true pitch.
Temperley”™s play Souvenir, as narrated by her devoted and often bewildered accompianist Cosme McMoon (Brent Schindele), posits the theory that she was besotted with the music that she heard coursing through her head and was convinced she was a beloved diva. Little did she realize she was actually an object of ridicule. She dismissed the laughter that often came from the audience during her performances as coming from her rivals consumed by “professional jealousy.”
Enamored with the fame her concerts brought her, and later her apparently substantial record sales, Jenkins enjoyed a period of notoriety and sold-out concert appearances.
Hence, Jenkins became tremendously popular in this unconventional fashion. Her audiences apparently loved her for the amusement she provided rather than her musical ability. Critics apparently often described her work in a backhanded manner that may have served to pique public curiosity.
Jenkins was aware of her critics, however, saying “People may say I can”™t sing, but no one can ever say I didn”™t sing.”
Currently playing at the Falcon Theatre – but in its final week – this play is incredibly funny and shines a light on an obscure and unusual performer.
BONUS! FREE DANCE LESSONS FROM ARTHUR MURRAY DANCE STUDIOS!
Prior to the Thursday performance of February 25, join us in the Falcon lobby at 7pm for a FREE DANCE LESSON!
Learn some of the dance moves from the ’30s and ’40s when Florence Foster Jenkins was making her mark on the music scene.
No need to make a reservation – just put on your dancing shoes and head on down to the Falcon!
But if you want to see Souvenir after the lesson, be sure to call the box office at 818-955-8101 to get your tickets today!
Dance lessons are generously provided by
Arthur Murray Sherman Oaks
4633 Van Nuys Blvd.
PLUS – receive a special discount on dance lessons from Arthur Murray Sherman Oaks when call the number above and mention the Falcon!
THE FALCON THEATRE
is located at 4252 Riverside Drive, in Burbank.
Box office and bookings – (818) 955 8101
Runs: until Sunday, February 28, 2010 (4pm show)
PERFORMANCES: Wed.-Sat. at 8pm, Sundays at 4pm
$32.50 – $35.00
All production photos by Chelsea Sutton.
review by Pauline Adamek