Judy Kaye (Tony winner for "The Phantom of the Opera") is giving perhaps the best vocal performance on Broadway as history’s most notoriously awful singer in "Souvenir," a new two-person comedy at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre that premiered Off-Broadway last year at the York Theatre Company. Because Kaye takes her character of Florence Foster Jenkins so seriously, it becomes the most authentic example of campy comedy on Broadway. For though her rendition of Mozart's Queen of the Knight sounds like utter doggeral, she doggedly believes that she is a great singer who would have made "Mr. Mozart" proud.
Her chemistry with Donald Corren as her right-hand pianist is warmly genuine, and helps carry the two-and-a-half hour long show to a satisfying conclusion. Still, one wishes that Stephen Temperley's play had more characters, which would have expanded the plot's possibilities, making it into more of a play and less of a star vehicle. As such, director Vivian Matalon's work can only be judged by these two performances. Even so, "Souvenir" provides light, likable entertainment best suited for the Wednesday or Sunday matinee crowd. And the memory of watching one of Broadway's better divas pretend to be an awful performer is a nice souvenir to take away from it.
According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.