Sunday, March 15, 2009


"They may say I can't sing,
but they can't say I didn't."
Florence Foster Jenkins

February 13–March 15, 2009
by Stephen Temperley
Directed by Vivian Matalon

"The remarkable Judy Kaye (Sweeney Todd) returns to A.C.T. in the outrageous Broadway role that earned her a Tony Award nomination. A fresh, original adventure, Souvenir imagines the story of real-life Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York socialite and tone-deaf diva who thought she was a great soprano. Broadway's brilliant Donald Corren plays her wry accompanist, who chronicles Florence's unlikely rise to cult status, culminating in an infamous sold-out Carnegie Hall performance. A heartfelt, wickedly funny look at the limits of self-perception and the unpredictable nature of friendship."
(Courtesy of ACT website)

My friend Adam and I went to one of the final performances of "Souvenir" last Friday. It was one of the funniest shows I've seen in years. Adam said it was the funniest live show he had ever seen. We laughed and guffawed...even snorted at times...then cried and cheered!

I had had my doubts that two actors could pull off a two hour show by themselves. Happily I was mistaken.

Because I was reading a book instead of the program notes, I only glanced cursorily at it, and thought at first that the accompanist was Edwin McArthur. I was quite surprised, because he had been Kirsten Flagstad's vocal coach and accompanist and was a friend of my Father's. He also was the conductor of the Harrisburg Symphony, in which I played 'cello for a season before moving to San Francisco.

It turned out that he HAD been Florence Foster Jenkins accompanist, but was fired by her because he couldn't keep a straight face. That made me feel a lot better about him. But it was strange that he had played for her at all. It reminded me of my late W & J Sloane customer/friend, Miriam Cameron, who had been the personal assistant to Sally Rand, the fan dancer, back in the Thirties. Miriam was rather straight-laced. But I guess, people do what they have to... especially in a Depression!

1 comment:

cityguy said...

I just came across an album entitled The Harrisburg Symphony Anniversary Party - Edwin McArthur Director as I was going through my fathers old records. I noticed in your blog that you played cello for a season and was curious if you knew my father Robert Clay who played 1st chair cello?

Titian in the Frari (Venezia)