Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins makes everyone want to sing, whether they can or not.
Souvenir has to be one of the best shows Judson Theatre has brought to the Sandhills. The casting is extraordinary, and the intimate setting of the Hannah Center at the O’Neal School is perfect for this play.
Souvenir is based on the flamboyant life of the worst opera singer ever, Florence Foster Jenkins.
Jenkins was a wealthy socialite who dreamed of being an opera singer. There was only one problem. She had the absolute worst voice on the planet.
Broadway Star Liz McCartney playing Florence Foster Jenkins.
Jenkins is a classic example of the Dunning–Kruger effect in the sense that she believed she was a very gifted singer, the reality was something altogether different.
Broadway Star Liz McCartney brings Jenkins to life in all her glory, and two-time Tony Award nominee Bob Stillman is her ever cringing accompanist, Cosmé McMoon.
The set is intimate, simplistic and absolutely perfect. After all, Jenkins’ singing voice is a star in its own right. You sit there knowing that first awful, chalkboard screech of her singing is coming, and yet you are really not prepared for it.
McMoon takes the job as her accompanist for the money and is ashamed to be working with such a non-talent. He is a cynical musician who sees her as delusional, as he is not alone in that. Stillman’s facial expressions alone will leave you rolling in the aisles.
Two-time Tony Award nominee Bob Stillman as Cosmé McMoon.
Jenkins thinks the crowds adore her voice, and yet they come to laugh at her. And you will too. You can’t help but laugh as McCartney brings her very best to this role. She is so funny and brilliantly takes us along into the world as only Jenkins sees it.
If the singing catches you off guard, you will also find that the subtle evolving friendship between Jenkins and McMoon will do the same.
McMoon slowly begins to see her differently and so does the audience.
He starts to see a woman who believes in herself. A woman who hears beauty in her voice, even when no one else does. A woman who works tirelessly to fulfill her dream, to sing at Carnegie Hall.
And by the end, you hear Florence Foster Jenkins as she hears herself. It is mesmerizing and touching, and you become carried away by the beauty that is Florence Foster Jenkins.
All photos by Sayer Photography.
So, bring the Florence in your life to see it. Everybody knows someone that really can’t carry a tune. If you don’t, then maybe it’s you.
For everyone who has sung in the shower, in the car, had your friends cringe when you suggested karaoke, come see this play. You will walk out of the theater wishing we could all be a bit more like Florence Foster Jenkins.
Showtimes are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m at the O’Neal School located at 3300 Airport Road, Southern Pines.
To purchase tickets, please click here.