Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Florence Foster Jenkins was a big-hearted woman, donating all proceeds from her concerts to various charities. The question remains whether or not she had any idea of her lack of singing ability (recordings remain to speak the truth). The play is currently on display courtesy of The Players on the Go in the courtyard of The Bazaar at Apricot and Lime in Sarasota.
The story is presented through the eyes of Cosme McMoon, played by the multi-talented Corey Woomert. The actor has proved his musical talents all over area stages, but this, despite some singing, is primarily an acting role, and he acquits himself very well. Other actors I've seen in the part actually played piano, but tracks are in use here. Ellie Pattison plays Ms. Foster Jenkins with great warmth and does an amazing job singing everywhere but on pitch and in rhythm. Only someone with real vocal abilities can take on this arduous part successfully; at the end, Ms. Pattison end offers a lovely performance of the Bach/Gounod "Ave Maria," although there were a few stray pitches at the performance I attended, possibly due to the long night or the cool outdoor air. She wears a series of outlandish costumes by Georgina Willmott, several based on outfits reportedly worm by the real-life Florence Foster Jenkins.
Multiple challenges make Ken Junkins' settings more a leap of faith than first class. A beat-up grand piano outfitted with electronics does not fully substitute for the beautiful instrument Mrs. Foster Jenkins refers to. Lighting and sound are effective, considering the difficulties of producing "on the go."
The entire affair is under the direction of The Players' artistic director, Jeffery Kin.
The Players Centre for Performing Arts presents Souvenir, through January 31, 2021, at The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime, 821 Apricot Ave, Sarasota FL. For tickets and information visit www.theplayers.org or call 941-365-2494.