Delusional but joyously happy woman thinks she's an opera singer

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. 

Known as “the first lady of the sliding scale”, she warbled and screeched her way through the evening to an audience who mostly fell about with laughter.

But this delusional and joyously happy woman paid little attention to her critics, instead she was surrounded by a circle of devoted and equally eccentric friends, many of whom fawned upon her for the money she gave to their various causes.

Based upon a true story, the play Glorious spins from Florence’s charity recitals and extravagant balls, through to her bizarre recording sessions and an ultimate triumph at Carnegie Hall in this hilarious and heart-warming comedy. 

Portrayed by Meryl Streep in a recent movie, Florence will be brought to life at the Sutherland Entertainment Centre by acclaimed actress Diana McLean (All Saints, Neighbours, Young Doctors). 

Diana said she “jumped at the chance” to play the part when she was asked about a year ago. 

“I knew about Florence before the film. She was a huge joke in some circles,” Diana said. 

“I think she’s a wonderful character and you can hear some of her original recordings on YouTube. She was from a very wealthy family and obviously very spoilt.” 

She wanted to live in Paris and scandalised her family by running off with a doctor. But the choice of husband proved to be a poor one and Florence returned to America.

Florence was determined to sing and seemed not to be able to hear her own wayward voice.

“She was a little bit away with pixies. When her father died she inherited and became very wealthy and a top society woman who gave to a lot of causes and so no one was game to say that she couldn’t sing,” Diana explained. 

“She had a huge following, especially by theatre people; she was very sweet but completely deluded,” she said. 

“It’s a hugely funny comedy and I love doing comedy, there’s just one quip after another,” Diana said. 

Singers say how hard it is to sing badly; so how did Diana prepare for the role? 

“It’s hard to sing as far under the note as Florence did. I have to practise a lot and I have had a lot of people helping me,” Diana said. 

Glorious is on at the Sutherland Entertainment Centre on Saturday, August 26 at 8pm.

A show had been advertised for the Hurstville Entertainment Centre on September 2 but due to unforeseen circumstances that performance had to be cancelled.

  • Details: 9521 8888 (Sutherland Ent Cent) 
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