On Book! Readers Theatre

Souvenir: Encore Performance!

A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins

Sunday, April 7 7:30 pm
Gubelman Theatre
Tickets:
Pay What You Can!
Directed by Adam Parrott

Souvenir
: Encore Performance!
by Stephen Temperly

For more than half a century the name Florence Foster Jenkins has been guaranteed to produce explosions of derisive laughter. Not unreasonably so, as this wealthy society eccentric suffered under the delusion that she was a great coloratura soprano when she was in fact incapable of producing two consecutive notes in tune. Nevertheless, her annual recitals in the ballroom of the Ritz Carlton hotel, where she resided, brought her extraordinary fame. As news of her terrible singing spread, so did her celebrity. Her growing mob of fans packed her recitals, stuffing handkerchiefs in their mouths to stifle their laughter—which Mrs. Jenkins blissfully mistook for cheers. The climax of her career was a single concert at Carnegie Hall in 1944. Famously, it sold out in two hours.

Souvenir, by turn hilarious and poignant, tells her story through the eyes of her accompanist, Cosme McMoon. A talented musician, he regards her at first as little more than an easy way to pay the rent, but, as he gets to know her, his initial contempt gives way to reluctant admiration, then friendship and affection. Eyewitness accounts of their concerts vary so wildly it is almost impossible now to separate fact from gossip. Hence this fictional "biography," in which we follow the story of their partnership from its earliest days to their concert in Carnegie Hall and its aftermath. With each new imagined triumph Florence's confidence soars. Faced with her boundless certainty, Cosme comes to revise his attitude, not only towards her singing but to the very meaning of music itself. As the play ends the audience enters her world completely, finding there the beauty she'd heard in her head all along. A musical odd-couple for the ages.

In the On Book! series, island directors gather actors and friends to read new, classic, and prize-winning plays.

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Souvenir Cast:

Carol Hooper
Josh Boland

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