Hudson, New York
Local culture
20 March 2017 07:57AM
Steven Patterson


” At the Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill, New York three people have taken center stage, each in a different way. Florence Foster Jenkins, the almost imperturbable diva of the 1930s and 1940s hates to give center to anyone else and, as portrayed in the Florence Hayle directed version of her story, she and her accompanist Cosme McMoon vie for that position like prizefighters in the match of their lives. It is a fight to the death and what happens here is a no-fail situation as both characters and their director never leave that position and they survive together for eternity.

Alison Davy, who plays Jenkins, is a dynamo with the most wonderfully weird performance manner and sound. She is unstoppable. She is laughably brilliant. Her most solemn, human moments touch you to the depths of your humorous soul and you find yourself sympathizing with your laughter time and again. It is said, over and over, that in her head Jenkins hears the music in her own voice as perfectly performed, ideally delivered. What comes out of her mouth, however. is the last thing you would expect: bad notes, disregarded melodies, quirky rhythms. Davy wonderfully performs every song with nuanced mania and bell-toned dystopia. I loved every minute of her performance.

Musician Jay Kerr plays musician Cosme McMoon. McMoon is that impotent victim of the rich lady who sings, the accompanist who cannot find his way out of the room and so remains there for thirteen years trying to either find the door or build a new one. Kerr as McMoon reminiscing about his diva twenty years later, is lovely with just the right sense of the sardonic as he tells his story, for this is his story as much as it is hers. He plays piano with a carefree touch, sings popular songs and classical arias with equal grace. He lets us enjoy McMoon’s fate while showing us how a man can be roped and tied and harnessed against his will while still glorying in his unasked for fate.

This is a nice way to make the move from winter into spring as it reminds us that no one with power is above a little laughter at his or her expense. Especially if they have the money to keep them above it somehow.”

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