Seasoned performers Joy Hermalyn (left) and Gerald Steichen share the stage for the Utah Festival’s triumphant opera and musical theater production of “Remembrance” currently performing at the Utah Theater on Center Street.
LOGAN – The 2021 season of the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theater kicked off with a triumph on Wednesday night.
“Souvenir” is a little obscure spectacle that no one in the audience had heard of before, let alone seen. But the comedy written by Stephen Temperley turned out to be such a riot of laughter that it elicited a standing ovation from the large opening night crowd at the Utah Theater.
This thunderous applause was inspired by the invaluable talents of the stars of the series: Gerald Steichen and Joy Hermalyn.
Steichen is a gifted keyboardist and actor who has divided his time on stage between delivering dryly sarcastic explanatory monologues to the audience and singing classical and jazz music on the theater’s impressive grand piano.
Ms. Hermalyn is an equally talented mezzo-soprano who has garnered praise from The New York Times as an opera singer capable of slapstick comedy.
While “Souvenir” isn’t billed as a musical, Ms. Hermalyn nonetheless courageously spends the evening hilariously murdering the music of Mozart, Verdi, Brahms and other composers.
Proving once again that truth is stranger than fiction, “Souvenir” celebrates the unlikely real-life fame of New York socialite Florence Foster Jenkins, based on memorable recitals she performed in the 1930s and 1940, including a sold-out show. concert at Carnegie Hall.
Mrs. Hermalyn plays the deaf opera lover while Steichen plays Cosme McMoon, her reluctant accompanist. They’re the whole cast of “Souvenir” and they didn’t need any help on stage to bring the house down.
Behind the scenes, however, the festival opera house has its usual deep pools of talent waiting backstage.
“Souvenir” is skillfully performed by UFOMT veteran Dorothy Danner.
The simple but evocative decor of Anne Benson is embellished with lighting and projection effects created by Chris Wood.
Finally, hats off to costume designer Jennifer Sheshko Wood for dressing Ms. Hermalyn in a series of fun and bizarre outfits during the climate recreation of the Carnegie Hall concert.
Nightly performances of “Remembrance” will continue at the Utah Theater on July 12, 15, 19, 22 and 30. A matinee performance is also scheduled for July 28.