by Stephen Temperley, Maine premiere
Based on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins, a patroness of the arts, who fancied herself an especially gifted singer. She sold out Carnegie Hall in a record three hours; however, she couldn't carry a tune in a bucket! This very funny play is also sweet and extremely touching. Souvenir was a hit last season on Broadway.
"…gentle and affecting comedy…" - New York Times
"Hilarious & deeply touching. 'Souvenir' is a loony triumph! Extraordinary!" - NY Daily News
"The funniest show on Broadway since 'The Producers'!" -Jeffrey Lyons, WNBC-TV
"Wildly funny! Completely charming! 'Souvenir' is a keeper!" - Star-Ledger
GIANT ‘BRAVO’ TO ‘SOUVENIR’ DREAM TEAM
Portland Press Herald, 11/3/2007
By April Boyle
"Souvenir" is a heartwarming, hilarious play about a woman who never gave up on her dream to be a singer, despite the fact that she was possibly the worst soprano that the world has ever known.
Florence Foster Jenkins had no sense of rhythm, tone or pitch. Simply put she couldn’t carry a tune. But to her ears, she was a passionate opera singer on par with Frieda Hempel and Luisa Tetrazzini. Nothing could convince her otherwise. And, when her father forbade her to sing in public, the rich socialite left home, determined to achieve her dream. She succeeded, selling out Carnegie Hall.
Jenkins’ dubious career lives on 63 years after her death at age 76. Recordings are even available for purchase on CD. Her unfailing confidence, albeit delusional, is a touching reminder of the power of believing in your dreams.
Good Theater’s artistic director, Brian P. Allen, has an ongoing dream of his own – to bring Broadway to Maine. In the past, the theater has been host to such Broadway stars as Willi Burke, George Merritt, Donna Lynne Champlin and Manoel Felciano.
Allen continues the tradition with Stephen Temperley’s "Souvenir" which opened Thursday.
The play stars the sensational Liz McCartney as Jenkins and two-time Tony Award nominee Bob Stillman as her piano accompanist Cosme McMoon. The two Broadway actors are an absolute delight to see in the Good Theater’s intimate setting.
McCartney reprises her role as Jenkins following a successful run at the George Street Playhouse in New Jersey earlier this year. Her performance Thursday was absolutely atrocious – and the audience loved every minute of it. The talented performer missed every note and beat possible, all the while beaming with childlike enthusiasm and pride. The audience cheered and laughed. It was as if the real Jenkins were performing for her adoring friends.
Of course, the off-key vocals were just part of a superbly executed performance by McCartney, and they made her final vocal performance all the more stunning. The audience was both moved and awe-struck when McCartney sang a flawless rendition of "Ave Maria" that showed what Jenkins heard all along.
Stillman complemented McCartney. He delivered his lines with perfect pause and finesse that sent laughter cascading through the audience, but he didn’t have to say a word to get the laughter flowing. Stillman’s expressive face said it all. Every look of horror, shock and disbelief was easily visible in the small theater, and all were hilarious.
Throughout the performance, Stillman played a vintage Mason and Hamlin piano, on loan from Starbird Piano and Organ. He adeptly played a wide range of musical styles, lending smooth tenor vocals on several pieces.
To put the final touch on the play, Allen rented McCartney’s costumes from the George Street Theater. The lavish costumes are a must-see and Janet Montgomery’s set complements beautifully.
"Souvenir" will have you laughing, and it will leave you believing once again in your dreams. Don’t miss the chance to see this intimate Broadway caliber performance.
Directed by Brian P. Allen
Set Design/Scenic Artist - Janet Montgomery
Costume Design - Tracy Christensen
(Ms. McCartney’s costumes courtesy of the George Street Playhouse)
Lighting Design - Jamie Grant
Sound Design - Christopher Bailey & Stephen Underwood
Technical Director - Stephen Underwood
Assistant Technical Director - Craig Robinson
Production Stage Manager - Joshua Hurd
Costume Supervision/Wardrobe - Joan McMahon
Props - Denise Poirier
Assistant Stage Manager - Adam Gutgsell, Karen Ball
Dressers for Ms. McCartney - Denise Poirier, Natasha Mieskowski
Hair Stylist - Kathleen Kimball
Set Construction - Merle Broberg, Donna Graves, Tom Foley, Armen Moradians, Craig Robinson, Dani Swasey, Russ Whitten
Photography - Craig Robinson
* Member Actors' Equity Association