In a Greenwich Village supper club in 1964, Cosmé McMoon flashes back to the musical career of Florence Foster Jenkins, a wealthy socialite with a famously uncertain sense of pitch and key. In 1932, she met mediocre pianist Cosmé McMoon, and the two teamed up in the hope of achieving success. Over the next dozen years, their bizarre partnership yielded hilariously off-key recitals that became the talk of New York, earned them cultish fame. The play culminates in a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall in 1944, where the audience "turns on her in gales of derisive guffaws."
Kaye is "the one who gets to hilariously murder the music of Mozart, Verdi, Gounod and Brahms and to wear more of Tracy Christensen's elegant as well as spectacularly silly costumes than a whole ensemble in a more populated musical." The play's title, Souvenir, comes from Jenkins insisting on recording "Queen of the Night" (Mozart), saying that when her voice is not as strong, the recording will make "a lovely souvenir."
The play opened on Broadway on November 10, 2005 at the Lyceum Theatre, where it ran for 68 performances and fourteen previews. Directed by Vivian Matalon (who originally suggested the subject matter to Temperley), Judy Kaye and Donald Corren comprised the cast. Kaye was nominated for both the 2006 Tony and 2005 Drama Desk Award for her performance.
The Lyric Stage Company, Boston staged Souvenir in February 2007; their production featured direction by Spiro Veloudos, and starred Leigh Barrett as Jenkins, with Will McGarrahan as Cosmé. Barrett won the Elliot Norton Award - Outstanding Actress in a Musical.
San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre staged the play in early 2009, with Judy Kaye and Donald Corren reprising their Broadway roles as Florence Foster Jenkins and Cosmé McMoon, and Vivian Matalon again directing.
The Flat Rock Playhouse, Flat Rock, North Carolina staged Souvenir in their 2013 season. Carl Danielsen played Cosmé McMoon and Linda Edwards played Florence Foster Jenkins.
The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre staged a production of Souvenir for their 2017-2018 season in their Stackner Caberet. Marguerite Willbanks played Florence Foster Jenkins and Jack Forbes Wilson played Cosmé McMoon.
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- Gans, Andrew. "Judy Kaye to Star in York Theatre's Souvenir Beginning Nov. 23" Playbill, September 28, 2004
- Murray, Matthew. "'Souvenir A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins'" talkinbroadway.com, November 10, 2005
- " Souvenir Reviews" newyorktheatreguide.com, accessed November 1, 2015
- "Souvenir Broadway" Archived 2015-11-09 at the Wayback Machine playbillvault.com, accessed November 1, 2015
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- "Official Site"., flatrockplayhouse.org