"Wrong-Note Rag": Souvenir, Tale of an Off-Pitch Diva, Opens on Broadway Nov. 10

News   "Wrong-Note Rag": Souvenir, Tale of an Off-Pitch Diva, Opens on Broadway Nov. 10 Stephen Temperley's play with music, Souvenir — which is subtitled "A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins" — officially opens at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre Nov. 10. Tony Award winner Judy Kaye stars.

Judy Kaye in Souvenir.
Judy Kaye in Souvenir. Photo by Carol Rosegg

Previews for the production, which casts Kaye as the vocally challenged soprano, began Oct. 28. Souvenir also features Donald Corren as Jenkins' musical director/piano accompanist Cosmé McMoon. Vivian Matalon, who helmed the play's previous run at the York Theatre Company, directs here as well. The creative team also features Tom Helm (musical director), R. Michael Miller (scenic designer), Tracy Christensen (costume designer), Ann G. Wrightson (lighting designer) and David Budries (sound designer).

Jenkins, who was an eccentric society woman, believed she was a great soprano, although the opposite was true. Despite her lack of talent, Jenkins' charity recitals in such venues as the Ritz Carlton Hotel brought her much fame. Jenkins often mistook audiences' muffled laughter for cheers, and over 2,000 people were turned away from her Carnegie Hall concert in the mid 1940's. Souvenir tells Jenkins' story through the eyes of accompanist McMoon.

Kaye recently spoke with Playbill.com about her audition for the show's original run. "It was a rather ingenuous way they discovered whether I could stick to my guns [and find an] alternate way to sing the melody," Kaye said with a laugh. "We actually started with the 'Ave [Maria].' [Original music director and co-star] Jack Lee played the 'Ave [Maria]' in one key, and I was asked to pick another key and sing it and stay there. That's how we did it, and it worked."

When asked about how she views Jenkins, Kaye admitted, "I love her very much. I thought she was a dear, deluded person [who] did nothing but good. Her mark has been left throughout the classical world throughout the years because she gave money to many entities and singers along the way. She was a huge supporter."

Judy Kaye played the role of Rosie in the Broadway company of Mamma Mia!, a part for which she received a 2002 Tony Award nomination. Kaye won the Tony for her performance as Carlotta in the New York production of The Phantom of the Opera and also received a Theatre World Award for her work in On the Twentieth Century. Kaye also starred on Broadway in Ragtime, and her two solo recordings are titled "Diva by Diva" and "Songs from the Silver Screen." Souvenir offers performances Tuesday-Saturday evenings at 8 PM with matinees Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 PM and Sundays at 3 PM.

The Lyceum Theatre is located in Manhattan at 149 West 45th Street. Tickets for Souvenir are priced $46.25-$86.25. For more information, go to www.souvenironbroadway.com.

Donald Corren and Judy Kaye in <i>Souvenir</i>.
Donald Corren and Judy Kaye in Souvenir. Photo by Carol Rosegg