Souvenir by Sing’theatre: play on the right notes of a false singer, Arts News & Top Stories

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REVIEW / THEATER

MEMORY

Chant’théâtre

KC Arts Center – Maison de la SRT / September 20


Rarely does a performer give a great show singing badly.

But that was the case with Florence Foster Jenkins, a wealthy American socialite whose low-pitched song won audiences in the early to mid-20th century, and rehearsed by British actress Leigh McDonald, who plays Jenkins in Remembrance.

Flamboyant costumes of course helped both women, as did the determined acting of an accompanist (Hossan Leong, as Jenkins’ musical partner, Cosme McMoon, lets the piano sing for a change,).

However, the main reason for Jenkins’ success was her steadfast self-confidence and touching devotion to the music she roughed up on stage. McDonald’s shows us that Jenkins, perfectly portraying the deaf singer who was also deaf as to why her private recitals were always sold out and hundreds had to be turned away from her only public recital, at Carnegie Hall.

She absolutely believed in the beauty of his voice. If the listeners stuffed handkerchiefs into their mouths, they were to utter stifling cries of joy. If people rushed to the door in the middle of a concert, it was because they couldn’t stand the brilliance of his performance. They were surely swept away by the exquisite notes Jenkins heard in his head but still failed to strike.

And of course, friends like McMoon fueled the illusion. One of Remembrance’s most memorable moments comes when McMoon convinces Jenkins that audiences at Carnegie Hall weren’t laughing at her but appreciated her talent.

Souvenir, directed by Samantha Scott-Blackhall, hits many right notes, with a few minor flats, like Leong’s sporadic American accent and the blockage that confines him to a corner with the piano for most of the show.

  • BOOK IT / REMEMBER

  • OR: KC Arts Center – SRT House, 20 Merbau Road

    WHEN: Until September 29; Tuesday to Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sunday, 4 p.m.

    ADMISSION: $ 45 to $ 59 at Sistic

    INFO: singtheatre.com

A musical about a singer who can’t sing might seem like an odd choice for Sing’theatre, an arts group known for technically perfect and soulful productions such as A Singaporean In Paris (also starring Leong and McDonald both of whom have hit all the heels. good grades). However, this is a great choice for an artistic group devoted to music.

Jenkins was an amateur in the true sense of the word, performing because she loved the works of Verdi and Mozart. We don’t laugh, but we twist in pain when we hear her sing the devilishly difficult aria from Mozart’s Queen of the Night. The recordings survive on YouTube and are played during Souvenir, but we are also jealous of the flippancy and poise of her voice.

McDonald’s does not attempt the aria on stage, aware like most people of the gap between ambition and current capabilities. Jenkins was unable to perceive this shortcoming in herself. It was a tragedy for us, but a triumph for her throughout her life.


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