Meryl Streep stars in ‘Florence Foster Jenkins,’ a movie about a Wilkes-Barre native whose singing was dubbed ‘Murder on the High C’s’
WILKES-BARRE — If you’ve ever heard Meryl Streep sing, you know the accomplished actress has a strong and versatile voice.
So she may well have recently found herself in a situation similar to one in which Kingston native Christine Donahue found herself last year: A singer with a lovely voice deliberately sings — shall we say, less than sweetly — in the style of one Florence Foster Jenkins.
Streep stars in a movie about socialite Jenkins, who was born in 1868 in Wilkes-Barre and in 1944 filled Carnegie Hall with people who came to hear her sing, though her voice was, well, just so bad critics compared it to “Murder on the High C’s.”
Also appearing in the film are Hugh Grant as Jenkins’ “husband”/manager St. Clair Bayfield and Simon Helberg — you may know him as Howard Wolowitz on television’s “The Big Bang Theory” — as her accompanist Cosme McMoon.
Stephen Frears, who also directed “The Queen” and “Philomena” was at the helm.
There’s no word yet on when the movie might be released in the United States, though Paramount Pictures reportedly acquired the rights to distribute it.
Donahue, who teaches on the music faculty at the University of Central Arkansas, hopes it will be released widely, in all parts of the country. “It better be released out here,” she said. “I’m very excited to see it.”
Last year Donahue appeared in the Kingston Historical Society’s production of “Souvenir,” a two-person play about Jenkins’ life, and she admits it was fun to deliberately sing off-key. The show was held at Wyoming Seminary’s Kirby Center for Creative Arts, where students were amazed to learn what Jenkins sounded like.
With a larger cast, Donahue said, the movie is bound to explore more of Jenkins’ story.
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.