Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins
Common Ground Theatre—Some performers become legends because ... well, they can't perform. Remember William Hung, the tone-deaf American Idol contestant from a few years back? Well, he had nothing on Florence Foster Jenkins, "the first lady of the sliding scale." Renowned for her inability to carry a tune (or even a note), Jenkins achieved an enormous following, and even played a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall a month before her death in 1944. Though she was aware of her reputation (and Cosmé McMoon, her accompanist, regularly made faces behind her back during shows), Jenkins reveled in her work, saying, "People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."
Jenkins' life and work have been celebrated in several plays, one of which, Stephen Temperley's Souvenir, opened on Broadway in 2005. Ghost & Spice opens its own production of Souvenir tonight at Common Ground Theatre with feature company member Lenore Field and guest artist Mark Lewis. Evening shows start at 8 p.m., Sunday matinees at 2 p.m., and tickets are $12-$14. For more information, visit www.ghostandspice.com. —Zack Smith
Ain't Got Long to Stay Here
Carolina Theatre—The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is hard to codify in a dramatic format. Recent efforts have included the Peabody-winning episode of The Boondocks entitled "Return of the King," which sees a resurrected MLK deciding to move to Canada, and a horrifyingly bad episode of the late 7th Heaven entitled "Got MLK?" which might very well be the worst attempt to explain Black History Month in the history of narrative fiction. (Seriously, check some clips on YouTube.)
For a reminder of what King and the Civil Rights movement meant to America, check out Barry Scott's one-man show Ain't Got Long to Stay Here, in which Scott re-enacts many of King's most powerful speeches. Scott, a veteran performer, has done his King show across the country for audiences that have included former President Jimmy Carter, and will do two shows at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets range from $5 for students to $24. For more information, visit www.carolinatheatre.org. —Zack Smith
N.C. Museum of Art—When Charlie Chaplin released City Lights in 1931, he faced a terrifying new threat to his career: the advent, several years earlier, of the sound motion picture. For 15 years, Chaplin had been the world's most famous movie star, with a persona that was predicated on his gift for physical comedy and a sentimental, expressive storytelling style that was easy to digest without the aid of dialogue. Faced with the imminent obsolescence of his art, Chaplin chose to defy the times and prove that silent films could still be viable. The result was City Lights, a tale about a tramp who moves heaven and earth to pay for an operation that will restore a blind girl's sight. This premise sets up Chaplin's classic struggle of his inept clown against the higher class of society that both oppresses and holds the key to salvation. The film is best remembered, however, for the ending, one of the most heartbreaking ever filmed. Indeed, the final crushing fadeout will be familiar even to those who haven't seen the film.
City Lights kicks off the N.C. Museum of Art's Winter Film Series, curated by Indy contributor Laura Boyes. Tickets are $5 and the program begins at 8 p.m. Visit ncartmuseum.org for more information. —David Fellerath
Slim's Downtown—Frontman Chris Patterson avers that "whiskey helps my memory when singing sad country songs," so expect the liquor to flow freely tonight. Patterson's muscular baritone waggles like a bent axle, leading his Washington, D.C.-area quartet through backwoods brambles and tumbleweed twang, balancing old-fashioned country with a rootsy rumble. Whether recalling his father's funeral and the ensuing familial hardship like a refugee from a Drive-By Truckers song, or seeking shelter in a shit-kicking honky-tonk amble, Leaving, TX bristles with raw emotional energy offered in measured strokes. The band has been in the studio lately recording the follow-up to 2007's sophomore effort, Anywhere on Good Roads. Pay $8 at 8 p.m. —Chris Parker