BWW Profile: FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS's Oscar-Nominated Stage and Screen, Meryl Streep
It's simple: if you don't know Meryl Streep, or think she's overrated, you've been living under a rock for the past 30 years or so. She's dominated THE ACADEMY AWARDS since the early 1980s, earning a whopping 20 Oscar nominations for roles as varied as the colors of the rainbow. She's only won three of those coveted golden statues thus far (slacker), but fans are hoping that come February 26, she'll take home number four.
This year, she earned her Best Actress Oscar nod for slightly off-her-rocker portrayal wannabe opera singer, Florence Foster Jenkins. The real-life figure was a generous patron of the arts and a child, piano prodigy. However, when she used her considerable fortune to throw a concert at Carnegie Hall, it led to her being dubbed, "The Worst Singer in the World."
However, Florence Foster JENKINS is not Streep's first foray into big screen singing. She starred in the 2008 film adaptation of the MAMMA MIA! and earned her 19th Oscar nomination for her crazy-haired portrayal of the Witch in Rob Marshall's adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's beloved musical Into The Woods.
Her performance, and more specifically her rendition of "Stay With Me" (complete with crazy eyes), impressed critics and fans alike - even those who know Bernadette Peters' interpretation of the song backwards and forwards.
Streep's involvement in theater extends far beyond ABBA's Greek islands or Sondheim's woods. In fact, the New York Theater scene is where the young Meryl got her start. In 1975, she performed alongside theater legend Mandy Patinkin and John Lithgow in The Public Theatre's production of TREWLAWNY OF THE WELLS.
The following year, she starred in MEMORY OF TWO MONDAYS/27 WAGONS FULL OF COTTON and SECRET SERVICE, and the flood of nominations began. In 1976, she was nominated for 3 Drama Desk Awards, one for each of those shows. The American Theatre Wing also noticed this rising star's talent, and they awarded her with a Tony Award nomination the same year for her performance in A MEMORY OF TWO MONDAYS/27 WAGONS FULL OF COTTON.
Her success on stage lead her to success on screen, and it wasn't long before she earned her first Oscar nomination for THE DEER HUNTER in 1979. Her later performances in films such as THE IRON LADY, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, and ADAPTATION have solidified Streep's reputation as a versatile powerhouse actress. Whether by coincidence or by choice, though, many of Streep's roles from the past decade harken back to her New York Theater roots: MAMMA MIA, INTO THE WOODS, DOUBT, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, and the upcoming MARY POPPINS RETURNS.
And now that Elton John and Paul Rudnick are working on a musical adaptation of THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, is it too much to hope that Streep will make her triumphant Broadway return reprising her devilish role of Miranda Priestly?
Whether it is on stage or screen, fear not, Meryl fans: the 67-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. While she doesn't have any films slated for 2017 release, she is currently in London filming MARY POPPINS RETURNS, in which she will reportedly play Topsy, Mary's cousin.
Will Streep add another trophy to her collection this year? Tune in to the Oscars on February 26 to find out!
Will you be rooting for Meryl on Oscar night? Let us know your thoughts on her nomination, and the Oscars in general on Twitter @BroadwayWorld.
The 89th Academy Awards telecast will air live coast-to-coast on Sunday, February 26, 2017 (8:30 p.m.ET/5:30 p.m.PT) on ABC. Be sure to visit BWW for live coverage of the 2017 Academy Awards, with a theatrical slant.
Portions of this article were originally published in a 2015 article.