Florence Foster Jenkins

THEATER REVIEW: ‘Souvenir,’ a fantasy on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins

Bennington Performinng Arts Center in Bennington Vermont. Written by Stephen Temperley, directed by Nathan Stith. “Was I in the presence of delusion, or mere dementia?”. The first thing you need to know about “Souvenir,” now playing at the Bennington Performing Arts Center (BPAC) is that the characters are real people who really existed and—for the most part—really did all the things you’ll hear about and witness in the play. The dialogue may have come from a playwright and the timeline may leave a few questions, but this is real folks. Honest, it is. How, you may ask yourself, could this have happened? How could this woman not have known she was not a talented singer? How could he, a genuine musician, have maintained their professional relationship without committing suicide? How is it all possible? You will come away from this delightful, genuinely funny play with the answer, but I’ll clue you in right here: love. Love and mutual admiration. You have to admire the self-deluded in their sincerity and honesty dealing with their beliefs. You have to admire the loyalty that grows from the heart. You just have to. Florence Foster Jenkins had the money to back her dreams and the dream to guarantee her future. Cosme McMoon had Madame Jenkins. and that was really all he needed. Their relationship lasted for more than a dozen years but the play shows us that the lasting effects of such a friendship go on indefinitely. That’s the story.
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Florence Foster Jenkins: who was she?

Few singers continue to enchant the public beyond the age of 70. Fewer still make recordings in their eighth decade. Only one has made their Carnegie Hall debut at the age of 76. That singer – I use the term loosely – was the legendary Florence Foster Jenkins. It was...