GLORIOUS Closes at The Rep, 3/28
Glorious! is based on the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, the legendary New York heiress and socialite who wanted to be a great operatic diva despite having one of the worst singing voices in history. The show will play its final performance on March 28.
Despite lacking talent, the ever-confident Florence continued to sing, drawing large crowds of loyal listeners who fell in love with her undeniable charm and unstoppable will-power.
Born Florence Foster in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to Charles Dorrance Foster and Mary Jane Hoagland, Jenkins received music lessons as a child, and expressed a desire to go abroad to study music. Her wealthy father refused to pay the bill, so she eloped to Philadelphia with Frank Thornton Jenkins, a medical doctor. The two divorced in 1902. She earned a living there as a teacher and pianist.
Upon her father's death in 1909, Jenkins inherited a sum of money which allowed her to take up the singing career that had been discouraged by her parents and former husband. She became involved in the musical life of Philadelphia, and later New York City, where she founded and funded the Verdi Club, took singing lessons, and began to give recitals, her first in 1912. Her mother's death in 1928 gave her additional freedom and resources to pursue singing.
Despite her patent lack of ability, Jenkins was firmly convinced of her greatness. She compared herself favorably to the renowned sopranos Frieda Hempel and Luisa Tetrazzini, and dismissed the laughter which often came from the audience during her performances as coming from her rivals consumed by "professional jealousy." She was aware of her critics, however, saying "People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."
Interest in Jenkins was revived in 2001 when Viva La Diva, a play about Jenkins by Chris Ballance, had a run at the Edinburgh Fringe. Another play about Jenkins' life, Souvenir, by Stephen Temperley, opened on Broadway in November 2005, and starred Judy Kaye as Jenkins. A third play about Jenkins, Glorious! by Peter Quilter, opened two months earlier in England; it has since been widely translated and performed in more than 20 countries.
Jenkins is mentioned in several works by musical artists. Boston-based indie folk band The Everyday Visuals released a song "Florence Foster Jenkins" on their self-titled LP in 2009. The song references her performance at Carnegie and other aspects of her life. A hidden track entitled "Encore for Florence" concludes folk singer Mary Hampton's debut album My Mother's Children.
Jenkins, dubbed "Flo Fo" by NBC's BrIan Williams, was the subject of the "Not My Job" segment of NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! for October 25, 2009. The episode appropriately took place in Carnegie Hall.
Peter Quilter's Glorious! opens in 1940s New York in the apartment Madame Jenkins shares with the English actor, St. Clair, and finds her auditioning her pianist Cosme McMoon. Along with Maria, a maid who speaks no English, and Dorothy, her ditzy companion, their exploits lead all the way to a crowning moment in Carnegie Hall.
Peter Quilter Quilter's plays have been translated into 13 languages and presented in 21 countries. He has had two shows in London´s West End and productions in many of the world´s great cities, including Cape Town, Helsinki, Prague, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney.
Peter now lives in the Canary Islands, but he was born in England, beginning his working career as a television presenter for the BBC. His first play was an all-female comedy Respecting Your Piers (published by Samuel French) and he followed this with a musical adaptation of Oscar Wilde´s "The Canterville Ghost" which played a number one tour of the UK starring Ron Moody. The following year, he made his London West End debut with a comedy about the pop industry BoyBand. The show played a summer season at the Gielgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue and later enjoyed success in South Africa, Denmark and on a 60 venue tour of the Netherlands.
In 2005, Peter had his first big international hit with End of the Rainbow - a musical drama about the final months in the life of Judy Garland. It premiered to rave reviews at Sydney Opera House in Australia (winning Caroline O´Connor two Best Actress awards) and also had an award-winning run at the 2006 Edinburgh Festival. The following year, Joop Van Den Ende presented a new Dutch production which played to packed houses on a seven month tour and the show has since enjoyed runs in the Czech Republic, Finland, Poland and New Zealand.
Glorious! also received its debut production in 2005, opening at the Duchess Theatre in the West End, starring the beloved comedy actress Maureen Lipman and produced by Michael Codron. Glorious! was an instant success, running in London for six months and over 200 performances. It was nominated for the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award as Best New Comedy. Glorious! made its North American debut at Theatre Calgary (starring Nicola Cavendish) and had its first foreign language production at Helsinki City Theatre, under the title Suurenmoista! It has since delighted audiences in a long and ever growing list of theatres across five continents. It is currently playing a number of different cities in Germany, Poland, Canada and the USA and in the coming year will have its first performances in Italy, Hungary, Norway and Brazil.
Quilter's first screenplay, "The Coogan Act" (a dark comedy about the world of celebrity) was recently filmed in Poland and has just been screened on state television there. He is currently promoting both television and theatre versions of this script. He is also writing a new comedy for a cast of just two actors, titled Duets.
by Nicole Capri Bauer
You gotta have heart...
When I first read the script for Glorious, I have to admit that I had little idea who Florence Foster Jenkins was. All I knew was that she was a self-proclaimed opera singer who looked a little like Susan Boyle and sounded a lot like the kitchen disposal. (As the kids in the young artist's program at The Rep would say, Ms. Jenkins was "talent-free.") But, as I began to listen to some of Florence's old recordings and research her life in a bold and bustling Manhattan during the 1930's and 40's, I believe I made a poignant discovery: This was a woman who must be listened to with your heart, not necessarily with your ears.
"Some may say that I couldn't sing, but no one can say that I didn't sing." - Florence Foster Jenkins
Despite her obvious vocal challenges and technical flaws, Florence Foster Jenkins was so enchanting, so funny and so endearing that people couldn't help but be drawn to her - so much so that she managed to fill Carnegie Hall with Broadway royalty and New York society's "elite of the elite." This was an amazing woman. This was a story. And this was definitely a life worth remembering here at The Rep in 2010.
Nicole Capri Bauer (Director) began her professional theatre career as an intern at The Rep in 1988. Twenty years later, she has returned to The Rep as Associate Artist and Director of Education. Nicole is the founder and director of The Rep's Summer Musical Theatre Intensive training program for young artists, now in its fifth year. A graduate of The University of Memphis and The National Theatre of the Deaf's professional training school, Nicole has directed and/or choreographed more than 100 productions. Favorite credits include; Eve in The Apple Tree (Fairmount Theatre of the Deaf/Cleveland Playhouse/International Tour), "Best Performance" (First InterNational Theatre Festival, Volgograd, Russia), Ram In The Thicket (Off Broadway/Judith Anderson Theatre), "Critics Choice Award" Mary in The Miracle Play and Director/Choreographer/Editor for the world premiere of Rich Mullins' Canticle of the Plains.
Patricia Kilgarriff stars as Florence Foster Jenkins. Patricia's career in theatre is extensive, encompassing London's West End, the Royal Shakespeare Company, ten Broadway shows and numerous regional theatres in the U.S.A. She earned a Drammy Award for Shirley Valentine at Portland Repertory Theatre, and won the Connecticut Critic's Circle Award for outstanding actress in A Woman of No Importance at Yale Repertory Theatre.
Broadway: Steel Magnolias, Tartuffe, James Joyce's The Dead, A Delicate Balance, Night Must Fall, A Small Family Business, La Bete. Lettice and Lovage, Shirley Valentine, Noises Off!, The Man Who Had Three Arms. Off-Broadway: Manhattan Theatre Club - Time and Again, Kindertransport, The Art of Success. Other Off Broadway: Spread Eagle, London Suite, All's Well That Ends Well, Counting the Ways, Footfalls. Regional Theatre: Enchanted April, A Woman of No Importance (Connecticut Critic's Outstanding Performance Award), Talking Heads, My Fair Lady, Mary Stuart, Happy Days,(directed by Edward Albee), Shirley Valentine (Drammy Award), Paddywack, Tartuffe, An Ideal Husband, The Importance of Being Earnest. TV: "Law and Order," "Law and Order SVU," "Second Honeymoon," "Loving," "All My Children," "Ryan's Hope," and "Love, Sydney."
Additional cast for Glorious! includes: Lillian Castillo (Maria), Darren Dunstan (Cosme), Laurie Pascale (Mrs. Verrinder-George) Herman Petras (St. Claire) and Joan Porter (Dorothy).
ARTISTIC AND TECHINCAL TEAM
The Rep's artistic and technical team for Glorious! includes Nicole Capri Bauer, Director, Rafael Colon Castanera, Production Manager, Shelly Hall, Costume Designer, Lynda J. Kwallek, Properties Designer, Katharine Lowery, Lighting Designer, Mike Nichols, Set Designer, Jason Pruzin, Sound Designer & Engineer and Matthew Webb, Projections Designer.
Single ticket prices range from $20 - $40 depending upon seat and day. Discount rates are available for groups of 10 or more. To purchase tickets call The Rep Box Office at (501)378-0405 or 1-866-6THEREP or visit us online at www.therep.org.
The Rep gratefully acknowledges the sponsors for this show: The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, Aristotle, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Entergy.
Founded in 1976, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre is the state's largest nonprofit professional theatre company. A member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT D), The Rep has produced more than 300 productions, including 40 world premieres, in its historic building located in downtown Little Rock. Producing Artistic Director, Robert Hupp leads a resident staff of designers, technicians and administrators in the creation of eight to ten productions for an annual audience in excess of 70,000 for MainStage productions, educational programming and touring. The Rep produces works that range from contemporary comedies and dramas to world premiers and the classics of dramatic literature. For more information, visit www.therep.org.