Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Dominion Stage Glorious!

By • Sep 28th, 2009 • Category: Reviews
Glorious! by Peter Quilter
Dominion Stage
Guston Arts Center, Theater One, Arlington, VA
Through October 11th
2:20 with one intermission
Reviewed September 26th, 2009

Public success does not necessarily go hand in hand with personal fulfillment. In the case of Florence Foster Jenkins, it’s exactly the opposite. A vocalist with little real talent, she chose to live her life in a fulfilling way — pursuing her dreams despite opposition — and success followed. One thing at which she did excel was creating and cultivating meaningful relationships with others.

Glorious! was a good show. Director Patrick M. Doneghy crafted an aesthetically pleasing production. My favorite part of this show was the visual variety. My least favorite part of this show was the emotional monotony.

If you get to your seat early enough (and, for heaven’s sake, sit towards the front!), you will have plenty of time to admire the very full, very pretty set designed by Hector Lorenzini and Preston Dean. I especially liked the set in the opening scene because of the layered and eclectic feeling the props (Luke Morris) gave it. Even though the scene was full, it successfully avoided being imbalanced or overwhelming. Other sets made good use of depth, height, and texture. Also, kudos to the crew! The show’s transitions did not lag due to the smooth and seemingly easy changes between scenes.

I liked the lighting designed by Jeffrey Scott Auerbach and Jim Vincent. There seemed to be a lot of resources available to them and each resource was used effectively. The dramatic effects were tasteful and highly effective across the board.

Costumes (Patsi DiBella Kreger, Eric S. Scerbo) were sufficiently flamboyant and period. Many costumes were sequined and conveyed a feeling of luxury that most women can appreciate. Lots of costume changes afforded a lot of visual variety.

Glorious! has a fun collection of characters. Unfortunately, they weren’t all given the full credit they deserved. The exposition in act I, scene 1 seemed especially slow. The actors were very good, but often I couldn’t see past the actor to the character. Delivery seemed rote for the whole first scene and occasionally through the rest of the show. It was difficult to motivate myself as a spectator after such a lethargic start. Emotional charge started out weak and then lacked sufficient dynamic to create an effective contrast later in the show.

The first actor to inhabit her role was Mary Ayala-Bush (Maria). She showed the most emotion, dynamic, and enthusiasm of anyone onstage.

Jeff Murray (St. Clair) was the next actor to convince me of his character and forward the story. In scene 2, I could finally believe that his character truly cared for Florence.

Soloist Harlie Sponaugle (Mrs. Verrinder-Gedge) brought a breath of the opera into this production when she performed classical vocal pieces at the top of selected scenes. Her renditions were lovely and provided an accurate representation of songs that Florence sang during the scene.

One of the shining moments of the production was Barbara Porter‘s (Florence Foster Jenkins) delivery of the line “I’m a hell of a lot of woman!” If she had put that much gusto into the rest of her character, what was a very good production could have been truly phenomenal.

I consider any show a success that makes me sing opera at the top of my lungs as I drive away from the theater. By that standard, Glorious! was definitely a success. Set, costumes, and lighting worked together to create a veritable feast for the eyes. The story was endearing and taught a clear lesson. Dominion Stage’s production of Glorious! is a must-see for anyone who dares to follow their dreams.

Director’s Notes

I’d like to be able to start off these notes by saying something like… “I found this show when I was pouring over stacks and stacks of scripts”… or… “I have wanted to do this show for years”… but, of course, I can’t because, this show was actually brought to me and I had never heard of it before nor had I ever heard of Florence Foster Jenkins.

What I can say is that at the moment I read Glorious! I knew it was a show I had to direct. And, not because I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it (because I did… it was very late and I was tired… don’t judge) and not just because the script made me laugh out loud while reading it (which made for an interesting metro ride). No, I had to do it because it spoke to me.

This show is for everyone who has ever been told not to follow your dreams or your heart for whatever the reason (which I believe, at some point in everyone’s life, everyone hears something to that effect). Glorious!, however, reminds us that sometimes it’s not how well you do something, it’s just that you do it! No matter who says “no” or “you can’t” or even “you shouldn’t.” This show says, “Yes!,” “you can!,” and “you should!” The satisfaction is in the doing.

Enjoy the show.

Patrick M. Doneghy, Director

Photo Gallery

Mary Ayala-Bush (Maria) Bradley Lyon (Cosme McMoon)
Mary Ayala-Bush (Maria)
Bradley Lyon (Cosme McMoon)
Bradley Lyon (Cosme McMoon) Lynn Ritland (Dorothy)
Bradley Lyon (Cosme McMoon)
Lynn Ritland (Dorothy)
Adele's Laughing Song - Harlie Sponaugle (Soprano)
Adele’s Laughing Song –
Harlie Sponaugle (Soprano)
Jeff Murray (St. Clair) Clavalitos - Barbara Porter (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Jeff Murray (St. Clair)
Clavalitos – Barbara Porter (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Barbara Porter (Florence Foster Jenkins) Jeff Murray (St. Clair),
Barbara Porter (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Jeff Murray (St. Clair),
Barbara Porter (Florence) Barbara Porter (Florence)
Barbara Porter (Florence)
Barbara Porter (Florence)
Harlie Sponaugle (Mrs. Verrinder-Gedge), Mary Ayala-Bush (Maria)
Harlie Sponaugle (Mrs. Verrinder-Gedge),
Mary Ayala-Bush (Maria)
Barbara Porter (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Barbara Porter (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Photos by Matthew Randall for Dominion Stage.


  • Maria: Mary Ayala-Bush
  • Cosme McMoon: Bradley Lyon
  • Florence Foster Jenkins: Barbara Porter
  • St. Clair: Jeff Muray
  • Dorothy: Lynn Ritland
  • Mrs. Verrinder-Gedge: Harlie Sponaugle
  • Interlude Soprano Soloist: Harlie Sponaugle
  • Pianist: Adriane McGill

Production Team

  • Producer: Megan McGill
  • Director: Patrick M. Doneghy
  • Stage Manager: David M. Moretti
  • Assistant to the Director: Larissa Norris
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Jim Callery
  • Set and Painting Design: Hector Lorenzini, Preston Dean
  • Master Carpenter: Hector Lorenzini
  • Set Construction and Painting: Hector Lorenzini, James Sullivan, Matthew Conley
  • Lighting Design: Jeffrey Scott Auerbach, Jim Vincent
  • Sound Design: Ben Allen
  • Sound Apprentice, Board Op: Robert King, Kevin Demine
  • Costume Design: Patsy DiBella Kreger, Eric S. Scerbo
  • Hair and Make-up Design: Renee Silverstone
  • Properties Design/Master: Luke Morris
  • Set Dressing: Preston Dean, Hector Lorenzini
  • Run Crew: David Gonzalez, Marta Tesfaye
  • Floral Design: Judy Norris, Larissa Norris
  • Auditions: Bill Parker
  • Photographer: Matthew Randall
  • Marketing Videographer: Mike Angelo
  • Program: Laury Sendek
Tagged as:

This article can be linked to as:

is a student of Speech and Communication at Northern Virginia Community College. She has been involved in the performing arts since the age of five when she debuted as the Little Red Hen on an elementary school stage. Her career includes both national and international ensemble performances with semi-professional choirs, various roles in community and college musicals (both onstage and off), as well as co-directing drama camp for Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA.

4 Responses »

  1. I agree with the above views expressed by Ms. Mari Davis that the “Glorious” set was beautiful, the lighting was nice and the costumes were well designed. But good staging does not a great show make.

    I also concur with Ms. Davis that the pacing of the show was slow. For me this lethargy led to making the experience something much less than the “charged” and “dynamic” one which it appears to have been for Ms. Davis.

    Given Ms. Davis’s observation that the actors could not get into their roles, I am not
    sure how she then arrives at her determination that their performances were “very good.” Perhaps, I am missing something?

    I might share Ms. Davis’s opinion that Mary Ayala-Bush (Maria) was the best actor on the stage were it not for her being cast in an unfortunate stereotype of a Latino maid. Given that there were only two dozen people in the audience of a 450 seat theater, I think it would behoove Dominion Stage to provide free tickets to members of the nearby Latino community to see whether or not they share my perception.

    While personally I have a weak spot for British accents, I found that of Jeff Murray (St. Clair) to be overdone to the point of sounding fake. Again, I found his character to be something of a stereotype in the nature of an all too common English butler.

    My opinion coincides with the assessment by Ms. Davis that the soloist played by Harlie Sponaugle (Mrs. Verrinder-Gedge) was a breath of fresh air. I only wish that the other actors had given as much life to the show through better preparation for and greater attention to the roles.

    With respect to the performance of the lead actress, Barbara Porter (Florence Foster Jenkins), Ms. Davis first points out that only one line was well delivered and then states that Porter’s acting made this a “very good” show. Forgive my confusion.

    Unlike Ms. Davis, I do not think that the test of a good show is whether it makes one “sing opera” on the drive home or “laugh out loud” on a Metro ride.

    After the intermission, I was surprised to see the Director, Patrick Doneghy, sitting in the middle of the theater where he was laughing and clapping in a vain attempt to get others to do the same! At the very least this behavior was inappropriate; at worst, it was unprofessional.

    Based upon the same story was last season’s production of “Souvenir” at the Studio Theater. In that show, one learned a great deal not only about how Florence Foster Jenkins marched to the beat of her own drummer, but also about the journey of a naive, innocent Cosme McMoon who was played in this production by a lifeless Bradley Lyon.

    Given all of the flaws in this production which have been pointed out by Ms. Davis, I am mystified as to how she can conclude her review by saying that “Glorious” is a “must-see” show? On the contrary, I am sorry to say that this is a “must miss” show — even if the “miss” is a “Ms.” Florence Foster Jenkins.

  2. I was there with 4 friends on Saturday night, and I must say I was shocked by the poor direction and lack of heart shown by the cast. I agree with Robert that Harlie Sponaugle was the best actor on the stage. We would have left at intermission, except we wanted to hear what Ms Sponaugle would sing next Her singing was breathtaking I saw this review today in the Post, and it really described how we felt.
    Dominion’s ‘Glorious!’ Is Exactly The Opposite

  3. In response to Robert Spiegel: I would like to note that my friend from England, who saw the show with me, was quite impressed with Mr. Murray’s British accent and said that it was “spot-on”.

  4. Ms. Bisulca, I will yield to your friend notwithstanding this fact that your friend is from Britain does not necessarily make him correct. For example, Director Doneghy claimed that at least one Latino did not find the Hispanic maid offensive.