The Most Happy Fella
Many of the songs from Frank Loesser's classic show, The Most Happy Fella have been stuck in my head since I saw Skylark Opera Theatre's delightful production last Friday. It was the first time that I had seen the show, but I was surprised by how many of the songs sounded familiar like "Standing on the Corner" and "Warm All Over." It is always a pleasure to see the show and the story behind songs that have for years become part of our cultural consciousness.
For those who are not familiar with the plot the story resolves around the love story between Tony and Rosabella. Tony was a customer of Rosabella's at a restaurant and leaves an expensive tie pin as a tip along with a love note. Rosabella does not remember Tony but they start a correspondence and soon the attraction becomes mutual. When asked for his photo Tony send's a photo of his foreman instead of himself because he fears Rosabella would not love him if she knew he was an old man. When Rosabella arrives in Napa for her wedding she discovers the deception and they have to start their relationship all over again.
This is the first time that I have seen Skylark put on a musical as compared to an Opera. It is a show that is considered to be more on the operatic side of musical theater - still giving a great opportunity for fantastic voices to shine, but also leaving more space for more comedic performances as well.
The show is filled with top notch musical performances backed up by an orchestra of two grand pianos. Sarah Lawrence plays Rosabella, she has a beautiful voice and does a great job portraying the roller coaster of emotions that Rosabella goes through, falling in love, out of love and then in love again. Bill Marshall plays Tony, he delivers the show with an Italian accent and captures both the bashful and comedic side of Tony. Laurel Armstrong plays the loving and brash Cleo, opposite Phinehas Bynum's constantly optimistic Herman. Their secondary love story is both beautifully sung and played out with great comic timing.
Skylark Opera Theatre's production of The Most Happy Fella is playing at the Historic Mounds Theater in Saint Paul through October 20th. It is a great show for anyone who is a fan of other Frank Loesser shows (Guys and Dolls) or the early days of musical theater.
*Photo Courtesy of Skylark Opera Theatre