I am super delighted to be directing Glorious! by Peter Quilter, which is the next play to be performed by Saddleworth Players at the Millgate Arts Centre.
Set in 1944, this delightful comedy tells just part of the story (the funniest part) of the extremely eccentric socialite, Florence Foster Jenkins (Sue Radcliffe) , probably one of the world’s worst singers, who never hit a right note, despite her stoic belief in her vocal excellence. Outrageously, she managed to side step any criticism from audiences and press by implementing her own system of interviews for concert attendance, handing out tickets only to those she considered worthy and yet somehow, despite her ear splitting vocals, she ended up performing to a sell out audience at Carnegie Hall.
The telling of this story in ‘Glorious!’ will bring you so much fun and the interaction of the hilariously quirky characters will delight you.
Florence’s two best friends and companions, St. Clair (John Tanner) and Dorothy ( Lorraine Reynolds) support her completely. In fact the three of them are a trio to be reckoned with, living completely within their own self-absorbed world and oblivious to other people and events. They are totally unaware, for example, that Cole Porter, renowned musician of the time (and his all male associates) were gay, despite blatant clues as the play goes along. There are no prizes for spotting these! Secondly, they were unforgivably rude to their Mexican Spanish maid, Maria (Rachel Harrison) , without realising that she had them totally worked out. They had actually fired her more than once but she feigned non comprehension and never left!
Into this mix comes Cosme,( David Noble) a piano accompanist. He is full of trepidation to start with, as although he has played in many musical venues before, he wonders if he will be up to the job of accompanying this grand opera singer. First of all he has to undergo the bewilderment of the trio, especially Florence and then he hears her sing! Enough said! Of course, Florence, St. Clair and Dorothy have no idea that Cosme, too, is gay, whereas Maria spots it in seconds! It is Cosme and Maria, so different from the trio, who help to clarify the humorous eccentricity of it all.
Florence is delightfully, off the scale batty, happy in the moment and engaging. St. Clair is an actor (not a good one) cheerful and urbane, with an eye for the ladies, Dorothy is a flirt, scatter brained and only ever leaves home after a couple of glasses of champagne and always with her pet poodle. Cosme is talented, hard up, nervous, engaging and despite the problems of the job, he supports Florence all the way to legend status,. Maria is bad-tempered, with good cause and she is sexy. Despite the insults of the trio, she makes her own path through the chaos! The only spoilsport is Mrs Verrinder-Gedge, ( June Holmes) a very bossy, wealthy socialite who tries to stop Florence from performing at all.
As the characters rise above the seemingly impossible, they become more understanding of each other, so could what begins as a joke possibly become a lesson in how to live your dreams? It worked for Florence! Audiences will love this stylish, bonkers comedy, so please come along to see it.
Glorious by Peter Quilter is directed by Pauline Walsh and runs from 10-17th February at Millgate Arts Centre
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