The West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts will present the Greenbrier Valley Theatre’s production of Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins on Tuesday, March 24, in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater at the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The presentation of the play is timed to coincide with the conclusion of “Arts Day at the State Capitol.” A reception will precede the performance at 5:30 p.m., with the play beginning at 6:30 p.m. The evening’s activities are free and the public is encouraged to attend.
Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins by Stephen Temperley presents the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a wealthy New York socialite in the 1930s, who became famous for her off-key singing by financing her own private opera concerts in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. The play traces the relationship between Jenkins, played by Beth McVey of Huntington, and her accompanist, the composer and pianist Cosme McMoon, played by Jeremy Fenn-Smith. In the beginning, McMoon is Jenkins’ embarrassed accompanist, but as time goes by, he grows into a reluctant admirer and eventually a friend . Directed by Cathey Sawyer, this hilarious and poignant story of a true musical novelty “makes hilarious and deeply touching theater out of something inherently ridiculous. A loony triumph,” says the New York Daily News.
McVey attended Marshall University and the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and enjoyed a successful 28-year career performing and starring in numerous shows on Broadway and across the country. Her Broadway credits include 42nd Street, Annie, Nine, Phantom and Beauty and the Beast. She also has had starring roles in four national tours including Lend Me a Tenor, Guys and Dolls, Urinetown and Copa Cabana.
McVey has received several awards in her career including Miss West Virginia in the 1973 Miss America Pageant; finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, nominated as Best Actress in a Touring Musical by the American Theatre awards in 2001 and she was honored as a Graduate of Distinction by the Education Alliance of West Virginia in 2001. In June of 2004, McVey moved back to Huntington and is currently teaching, directing, serving as executive director of ARTS and serving on the executive board of the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center. Recently she was honored as the Marshall Distinguished Alumni for 2008 and is serving as an honorary professor for the fine arts department at Marshall this year.
Fenn-Smith has served as music director in Greenbrier Valley Theatre productions including Forever Plaid, Pete ’n’ Keely, I’ll Never Be Hungry Again, Urinetown . . . the Musical, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now change, Always
. . . Patsy Cline, Something’s Afoot, The Honky Tonk Angels and Route 66, to name a few. His regional/stock experience includes Weathervane Theatre in Whitefield, N.H.; The Theatre Barn in New Lebanon, N.Y.; Theatre West Virginia in Beckley; Red Bard Theatre in Key West, Fla.; Naples Dinner Theatre in Naples, Fla.; Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson, Fla.; and the Arundel Barn in Arundel, Maine.
Fenn-Smith received his bachelor’s degree from Middlesex University in Mass., his master’s degree from City University in London, England and his Ph.D. from New York University. He also received a conducting degree from Juilliard.
For more information about Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins, contact Jacqueline Proctor, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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