(Charlotte Stoudt’s article ran in The Los Angeles Times, 2/11.)
Dr. House would call it the Dunning-Kruger Effect: a cognitive bias that leads incompetent people to overrate their abilities. But Florence Foster Jenkins, the infamous tone-deaf socialite singer, was just living her dream. Her unlikely triumph is the subject of “Souvenir,” Stephen Temperley’s droll Broadway hit, now at the Falcon Theatre.
This backstage comedy with music plays out the relationship between Jenkins (Constance Hauman) and her loyal accompanist, Cosme McMoon (Brent Schindele). Temperley deftly turns their 1940s novelty act into a meditation on self-knowledge, contrasting a musician painfully aware of his artistic limits with an enthusiast who has no idea of hers. “There’s nothing more detrimental to singing than this modern mania for accuracy,” says Jenkins, sighing, before launching into an ear-splitting effort at the Queen of the Night’s aria.
(Stephen Temperley's work is included in One on One: The Best Women's Monologues for the 21st Century, One on One: The Best Men's Monologues for the 21st Century, and Duo!: The Best Scenes for Two for the 21st Century–all from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.)
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