BWW Blog: Eric Ulloa of Goodspeed's THE MOST HAPPY FELLA - I Can Cook Too
Like a page straight out of a comic opera, "The Most Happy Fella" utilizes a trio of comic relief to introduce us to the world of Tony's Vineyard and just how damn Italian it all is. This relief comes in the form of three chefs that work for Tony and when not cooking, they belt out their powerhouse voices (you have NO idea what you're in store for until you hear them!) that bring down the house eight shows a week. This week I give you the actors that bring Pasquale, Guiseppe and Ciccio to life - Martín Solá, Greg Roderick and Daniel Berryman. I hope you enjoy getting to know this tasty trio! (I promise that sounded a lot less creepy in my head)
Eric Ulloa: What are 3 things you always carry at your dressing station? Why?
Greg Roderick: I'm kind of a 'no frills' guy when it comes to my dressing station. I don't really wear make-up unless it's specifically required. I guess a water bottle and a book are always there. I'm currently going back and forth between The Power Broker (Pulitzer Prize winning book on Robert Moses), and Dance With Dragons (book five of the Game of Thrones series). And the rest is really just whatever show paraphernalia I accumulate: cards, flowers, etc.
Martín Solá: I'll tell you four things that I have with me at all times: a pitch-pipe, a bottle of room temperature H2O, a bag of Ricola, and a little jar of pomade.
A) The pitch pipe -I, as you and most of my colleagues know by now, am ritualistic about preparation before a show. I usually spend an hour before coming to the theater and most of the half-hour call to focus and center myself for the work. One of the things that most helps to focus and relax is vocalizing, so I always have a pitch pipe handy for that.
B) A bottle of water - As most singers know, hydration can have a great affect on one's vocal apparatus. I drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day, but usually a good deal more. I always have a bottle of water on my station, and another one waiting in the wings.
C) A bag of Ricola helps to soothe the nervous tickle in my throat that arises just before that phrase with the high notes is about to happen...do you know what I'm talk'n about?
D) A little jar of pomade - because "whatever happens out there, you gotta look good baby!"
Daniel Berryman: 1. Ricola. I always have one after a show and if I have a sore throat they're a life saver! Well, actually... they're Ricola!
2. Water. I find that the most important thing I need to do to keep my voice healthy is to stay hydrated.
3. Cards. I'm very thankful that my wife and family send me opening night cards and I like to keep them at my station. If I'm having a bad day or a bad show I can read them and remember that I have an incredible support system.
EU: Tell me your most embarrassing onstage moment.
GR: Oh there have been many. One of my favorites was when I was doing the The Full Monty, and the time came for the big reveal at the end. Traditionally, the audience is blinded by stage lights so really all they see are the silhouettes of six naked guys. Well, final dress rehearsal, they had invited the theater's 'guild' invited to watch. So the audience was full of the theater's more well-to-do theater supporters. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) they got more than they bargained for when instead of a blinding back-light, the front house lights bumped up full, giving the invited audience the full FRONTAl Monty.
MS: My most embarrassing moment on stage? There have been a few, but this one always makes me laugh. In 2008 I played Che in Evita at The Theater by the Sea in Rhode Island, and on opening night I made an incredible blunder. For "And the money kept roll'n in", the entire number was staged around Che paying off various parties with bribe money, as he narrated the story of the corruption in Argentina under the Perón regime. Well, I entered the stage for that scene, but forgot to bring on the money. I cannot remember exactly what we all did, but there was some creative company improvisation happening on that stage for the better part of 3 minutes. It made for a very exciting and memorable opening! HA!
DB: This summer I was in a production of "Les Miserables," playing Marius. In Act 1 Marius falls in love with Cosette in a moment but she runs off before he has a chance to ask her name. When he realizes she's gone he runs all around to try to find her. This particular night I was running back on from stage left (the stage was in a thrust) and as I stepped on to stage my feet flew out from under me. I proceeded to slide the whole length of the stage until I found myself sitting flustered on the opposite stage edge. The audience gasped! Physically, I was perfectly fine but I was very embarrassed. Thankfully Eponine came over to me and sang, "Good God, oh what rumpus!"
EU: If you could go back in time and perform in a different era, which one would it be? Why?
GR: I think Hollywood in the 1930's would have been an amazing time to be in the film industry, and even though I'd like to go back for a day and watch a performance of Shakespeare during its heyday, I'd have to say Broadway in the 1960's. I love so many classics from that decade.
MS: If I could go back and perform in another era, it would have to be 1930's - 1950's. As a classically trained singer, I find that I am well suited for that style of music. The beautiful melodies and lush orchestrations speak to my sensibilities. To perform some of those works in a theater with a full orchestra and no amplification would be a dream come true. I also love the popular music from that era, it contained memorable melodies and well crafted, clever lyrics. Performing Latin ballads, tangos and boleros from this era is another one of my passions. I admire is the style and fashion from that time as well. I love that men wore suits and hats, and women wore dresses. I like the sense of formality that can bring to special events. I'm glad that in 2013 we can all show up for work in our most comfortable pair of jeans, but I love to get dressed up in a suit and tie and take my wife to the opera or the theater. I also happen to own a Fedora, but I only wear it on very special occasions, because people look at you funny. I sometimes think that I was born in the wrong era.
DB: I would go back to the Golden Age of musical theatre when there were no mics. I enjoy singing with a more classical sense of style (Hooray for THE MOST HAPPY FELLA!) and to think of singing in shows like Brigadoon, Camelot, Oklahoma, etc. with only you, your fellow cast members, the orchestra and the true acoustics of the space... well, that would be amazing.
Thank you gentlemen.
There have been a great number of emails piling up at www.ericulloa.com and it's been awhile since I have responded, so let's tackle a couple shall we?
First off, I want to thank Jack and his husband for a lovely note that was sent about how much they enjoyed our production. We have such a wonderful time telling this story and it's great to hear back on how much we've affected our audiences and in this case, on their 70th birthday! Happy Birthday Jack and we're so pleased we were able to share the special day with you.
We also had a question from Steve about audience reaction and why audiences laugh at the more tender/emotional moments. You know Steve, once we introduced audiences into the show, we found some of the laughter weird at first and a bit jarring, but I think I can explain why this happens in two quick points.
"The Most Happy Fella" is billed as a musical comedy brought to you by the man who wrote "Guys and Dolls" and "How to Succeed..." so I think people come in expecting a lighthearted laugh-a-thon. Those who have seen our show know that though there are laughs, this story has very intense moments and is ultimately a beautiful story of love and forgiveness. Also, the fact that the libretto for the show is very light and nonstop charm until we hit our first very dramatic moment near the end of act one may also be deceiving to some. I just think audiences become a bit confused and are unprepared for what is presented to them.
The natural human reaction to situations that are uncomfortable tend to result in us laughing or attempting to shrug off awkward situations. I think those final moments (don't worry, no spoilers here) find Tony and Rosabella in a very uncomfortable position and the audience can feel it. Wanting the best for them, I think we tend to laugh a bit to make it all lighthearted and encourage a happy ending. I know when I first watched this scene I was crying as if someone died but had the biggest smile plastered on my face.
Remember when I said two quick points...
Well folks, check back in next week for more fun, laughs and verbose question answers. Have a great weekend!