I was absolutely charmed by this production and Neva Rae Powers’ performance. Charmed, I tell you.
Northlight Theatre’s pitch-perfect production of Stephen Temperley’s play Souvenir is a sweet and touching fantasia on the life of the highly unique vocal artist Florence Foster Jenkins.
With her love of classical music unquestioned, her temper bright and driven, and her passion in sharing her voice with others unparalleled, Madame Flo, as she was referred to later in her career, was a rare breed. And thanks to willpower and means (she became a rather wealthy New York socialite in her adult years), her career culminated into a sold-out and highly-anticipated performance at Carnegie Hall.
The punchline here is that Jenkins (superbly played here with child-like exuberance by Neva Rae Powers) could not sing a note. Her voice resembled a series of cat calls, mixed with moans and screams. Her performances, which began as private recitals in the Ritz-Carlton for her sycophant society friends, later moved to more public, frequent and longer engagements – eventually leading to the celebrated Hall. Her fans and followers included Noël Coward, Cole Porter and Tallulah Bankhead.