Stephens (of Broadway's recent The Man Who Came to Dinner) plays the real-life untalented, wealthy singer Florence Foster Jenkins for The Skylight, the resident Milwaukee musical theatre company devoted to opera and musicals.
The Skylight's principal conductor Richard Carsey plays Cosme McMoon, Jenkins' accompanist, in this so-called "fantasia" about a passion for music.
Skylight artistic director Bill Theisen directs the production, which continues to March 30 in the Cabot Theatre of the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 North Broadway, in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward.
According to Skylight, "Based on true events, Souvenir is the funny and poignant story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a wealthy society eccentric who became tremendously popular for her lack of singing ability. [It] explores the musical career of the tone-deaf diva…through the eyes of her accompanist, Cosme McMoon. Jenkins had little sense of pitch or rhythm, but despite her lack of talent, she was convinced of her greatness and thought she was giving the music its due. Jenkins was not only famous for her singing, but for her costumes as well. She designed the grandiose costumes she wore onstage, often appearing in wings, tinsel and tulle. No score was too difficult for Jenkins, as she undertook a mixture of operatic repertoire by such masterful composers as Mozart, Verdi and Strauss."
Together, Jenkins and McMoon "formed an atypical musical partnership that earned Jenkins unimaginable fame, culminating in her legendary sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall in 1944." Souvenir premiered at Off-Broadway's York Theatre Company in New York City, had a successful run at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, MA, and had a brief Broadway life starring Judy Kaye, who was Tony Award-nominated for her off-key performance.
Music direction is by James Valcq. The production team includes scenic designer Jack Magaw, sound designer Gary Ellis, lighting designer Doug Vance, stage manager Michele Hand and costume designer Tracy Christensen and Shima Orans.
For more information call (414) 291-7800 or visit www.skylightopera.com.