CATCO opens its 2011-2012 season with the musical comedy Souvenir Nov. 22 through Dec. 11 at the Riffe Center Studio Two Theatre. (Visit www.catcoistheatre.org for ticket and other information.)

CATCO opens its 2011-2012 season with the musical comedy Souvenir Nov. 22 through Dec. 11 at the Riffe Center Studio Two Theatre. (Visit www.catcoistheatre.org for ticket and other information.)

The two-person play is based on the real-life story of New York socialite Florence Foster Jenkins, who, despite possessing no sense of rhythm or pitch and being barely able to sustain a note, fancied herself a singer or opera and art song.

Her accompanist and confidante, Cosme McMoon, attempted to protect her from herself to no avail. A diva in her own mind, she insisted on renting Carnegie Hall for a dazzling, costume- festooned benefit concert.

CATCO's production features longtime CATCO favorite Linda Dorff as Jenkins and Matt Clemons as Cosme McMoon. (Both were gracious enough to participate in one of our video shoots back in September, which we reprise on this page.)

Dorff recently answered some questions posed by The Beat.

The Beat: Souvenir is a comedy but what other emotional reaction should we have to Florence?

Linda Dorff: Florence has a quality that I find endearing: She has a determination and honesty in her belief of her talent, even though she has none. She is very refreshing and honest.

TB: Would you say there is something universal in her character?

LD: Her universal quality is what can be found in most of us - our often skewed vision of who we are (to quote the ad on the promo card).

TB: Can you describe Florence's relationship with Cosme and how you and Matt Clemons have approached portraying it?

LD: She has total faith in Cosme. She relies on his talent, kindness and good sense - even though she forces him to undertake adventures that he would never have considered! I have come to respect and admire Matt Clemens' talents and personality enormously. He is a very gifted young man - totally without ego, and very sweet and giving. It's easy to transfer those feelings to the onstage relationship of Flo and Cosme.

TB: Is there a "trick" to purposefully singing badly?

LD: Although I have been in many musicals in the past, I have never had an "operatic" voice. I now have a much greater respect for classical singers.

Not only has it been a challenge to learn pieces of arias in foreign languages (French, Italian, German and Spanish), but recognizing the melodies of these arias and having to sing them off-key is very difficult. My heart just wants to stay on key and sing them correctly, even though my head says otherwise.

TB: Is there a song in the show that you'd like, just once, to go out there and sing "straight"?

LD: Matt gets to sing some of my favorites from the 1940s - those are the songs I wish I could be singing!