A Souvenir From Alleyway Theatre
Itâ€™s funny how history seems to repeat itself. Florence Foster Jenkins was in the elite member of society, but terribly eccentric and utterly convinced that she was a great coloratura soprano â€“ despite the fact that she couldnâ€™t carry a tune for even a few notes. She even managed to hold a sold out concert, even though she couldnâ€™t sing! Sound familiar? Remember William Hung?
Jenkinsâ€™ story happened over 50 years ago. She would hold annual recitals in the Ritz Carlton hotel where she lived with her accompanist Cosme McMoon. News of her terrible singing and conviction that it was fantastic singing spread and soon enough, the hotel would be packed with fans trying to hide their laughter with handkerchiefs in their mouths â€“ which Jenkins interpreted as the fans being overcome with exuberant cheering. She became so popular that she had a concert at Carnegie Hall in 1944 â€“ and the show sold out in two hours.
Her life continues to entertain the masses decades later in â€śSouvenir,â€ť by Stephen Temperley, a play told through the eyes of her accompanist and pieced together from first-hands accounts. Thereâ€™s just one problem â€“ many of the accounts of her performances are conflicting. Some described it as inspiring while other decried it as nauseating. This â€śbiographyâ€ť of sorts shows the tale of how her accompanist started out as just using Jenkins to pay the rent and viewing her with contempt to admiration and finally friendship and affection.
Jenkins tale is one of a lot of comedy, but also empowerment. A story of this unique individual's triumphs and the aftermath of her concert at Carnegie Hall is also the story of a musical odd couple. â€śSouvenirâ€ť is being brought to the stage at the Alleyway Theatre by the Buffalo United Artists. It opens January 9th and runs through the 31st, playing on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM. Directed by Javier Bustillos, tickets are $23 general admission, $20 for seniors, $18 for member of the Buffalo United Artists, and $15 for students. You can make reservations by calling 886-9239 or visiting this website.