Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Photos: First Look at International City Theatre's GLORIOUS!

In 1940s New York, the performer who everyone wanted to see live was Florence Foster Jenkins, an enthusiastic soprano whose pitch was far from perfect. Based on a true story, Glorious! is Peter Quilter's hilarious, Olivier-nominated comedy that invites us into the world of this New York socialite of great passion, considerable wealth and zero talent who fancied herself an opera diva. Richard Israel directs a four-week run at International City Theatre, opening tonight, Oct. 10.

No one could accuse Florence Foster Jenkins of not living her dream. Born in 1868, Jenkins was a wealthy New York eccentric who indulged her passion for singing by sponsoring her own concerts with money she inherited from her parents - who had forbidden her from performing in public while they were alive. Known as "the first lady of the sliding scale," Jenkins warbled and screeched her way through every performance, drawing capacity crowds of fans who would roar with laughter at her shrill, off-key singing and outrageous costumes. But this delusional and joyously happy woman paid little attention to her critics, comfortably surrounded by a circle of devoted friends who were almost as eccentric as she was. Despite her lack of talent, Jenkins doggedly pursued her dreams and enjoyed a successful career singing at charity recitals. In 1944, she sold out New York City's famed Carnegie Hall for her final performance, with more than 2,000 would-be patrons turned away at the door.

"I believe that people may have walked into her concerts to laugh at her, but they left full of admiration," says Israel. "Florence Foster Jenkins was someone who carved her own trail and single-mindedly pursued her dreams. Ultimately, she had the last laugh. She went to her grave really happy, and she made a lot of other people really happy along the way. This is a story about the triumph of the human spirit."

Eileen Barnett (Broadway productions of Nine and Company) stars as "the caterwauling countess," with Matthew Wrather (ICT's Don't' Dress for Dinner) as her longtime accompanist Cosmé McMoon and Leland Crooke (ICT's Ghost-Writer) as her boyfriend and manager, St. Clair. Janellen Steininger (founding member, The Antaeus Company), is loyal friend Dorothy, and Carol Abney (productions at the Fritz Theatre in San Diego and at San Diego Rep) doubles as the singer's obstreperous maid, Maria, and as Jenkins' detractor, Mrs. Verrender-Gedge.

Glorious! premiered at England's Birmingham Repertory Theatre in September 2005, then transferred to the West End in November 2005 where it ran for more than 200 performances. Nominated for the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award and the Theatregoers' Choice Award as Best New Comedy in 2006, the play has been performed in 23 countries and translated into 13 languages. London's Sunday Times called Glorious!, "A lunatically funny comedy that will keep you very happy... a glittering comedy with a heart."

Set design for Glorious! is by JR Bruce; lighting design is by Jeremy Pivnick; costume design is by Kim DeShazo; sound design is by Dave Mickey; props are by Patty and Gordon Briles; wigs are by Anthony Gagliardi; and casting is by Michael Donovan Casting.

Richard Israel is the recipient of a Career Achievement Award for Directing from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle. For International City Theatre, he has previously directed Dead Man's Cell Phone and Leading Ladies. Other credits include Floyd Collins for La Mirada Theatre, 110 in the Shade for the Actors Co-Op, Avenue Q for DOMA Theatre Company, Kiss Me, Kate and Once Upon A Mattress for Cabrillo Music Theatre, Bronies! The Musical, The Burnt Part Boys and Falsettos for the Third Street Theatre, Gypsy for West Coast Ensemble (LA Weekly Award nominations for Directing and Outstanding Musical) and the world premiere of Having It All at the NoHo Arts Center (7 Ovation Award Nominations). Other directing credits include Meet Me In St. Louis for Musical Theatre West, A Christmas Carol for the Norris Theatre and Bell, Book and Candle for The Colony Theatre, as well as the critically acclaimed West Coast premiere of Anita Bryant Died For Your Sins, the Los Angeles premiere of Big - The Musical, Assassins (LA WeeklyAward nominations for Direction and Outstanding Musical, LADCC Award for Musical Ensemble) and Floyd Collins - all for Hollywood's West Coast Ensemble Theatre. For the Musical Theatre Guild, he has directed High Fidelity, One Touch Of Venus, High Spirits and Violet as well as staged readings of The Front, Dani Girl and Rocket Science for the Festival Of New American Musicals.

Peter Quilter's other plays include Respecting Your Peers, a musical adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Canterville Ghost, BoyBand and End of the Rainbow, a musical drama about the final months in the life of Judy Garland that will be part of ICT's 30th Anniversary Season in 2015. Born in England, where he began his working career as a television presenter for the BBC, Peter currently lives in the Canary Islands. His work has been translated into 13 languages and presented in 21 countries.

International City Theatre is Long Beach's Resident Professional Theater at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center and the recipient of the Margaret Harford Award from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle for "Sustained Excellence in Theater."

Glorious! runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., Oct. 10 through Nov. 2. Two preview performances take place on Wednesday, Oct. 8 and Thursday, Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $42 on Thursdays and $47 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, except opening night (June 6) for which tickets are $52 and include a post-performance reception with the actors. International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center at 300 E. Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach, CA 90802. For reservations and information, call the ICT Box Office at 562-436-4610 orwww.InternationalCityTheatre.org.

Photos by Suzanne Mapes

Photos: First Look at International City Theatre's GLORIOUS!
Eileen Barnett

Photos: First Look at International City Theatre's GLORIOUS!
Matthew Wrather, Eileen Barnett

Photos: First Look at International City Theatre's GLORIOUS!
Leland Crooke, Eileen Barnett

Photos: First Look at International City Theatre's GLORIOUS!
Carol Abney, Eileen Barnett

Photos: First Look at International City Theatre's GLORIOUS!
Leland Crooke, Eileen Barnett, Janellen Steininger, Matthew Wrather

Photos: First Look at International City Theatre's GLORIOUS!
Leland Crooke, Janellen Steininger, Eileen Barnett


Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes, and More from Your Favorite Broadway Stars

Related Articles View More Los Angeles Stories

More Hot Stories For You