BWW Blog: Eric Ulloa of Goodspeed's THE MOST HAPPY FELLA - There's No Business Like Show Business
Ensemble. Production photo by Diane Sobolewski
There's no business, like show business, like no business I know...
Sitting onstage in my oversized denim jeans, plaid shirt and straw hat, I "read" my prop newspaper, making up different headlines and stories out of the pictures and blurry text on it. To my left "Marie" is telling "Tony" that he's crazy for wanting to get married. To my right, I can catch glimpses of the girls waiting with their props for "Standing on the Corner". Directly in front me are 300+ people from all walks of life and professions...doctors, lawyers, teachers, business executives and a plethora of other professions that keep the world spinning. It's then that I think, "What am I doing? Is this really my job? I'm in a costume playing with toys and cut out scenery!" The thought stays in the back of my head throughout the rest of the show. We take our bows, the crowd is on their feet with smiles and tears running down their cheeks...still, I question our purpose. I take off my costume, put some in the laundry bin, hang up the rest and head out the stage door ready for my between show break. A man stops me halfway down the street, stares at me for a moment and then just says, "Thank You." I thank him for being a great audience and as I begin to move on he stops me again and says, "No. Thank YOU. Thank you for telling me a great story. Thank you for letting a grown man cry. Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for giving me an afternoon of absolute pleasure...I needed it."
Doug Carpenter. Rehearsal photo by Diane Sobolewski
Everything about it is appealing, Everything the traffic will allow...
In just these three weeks of previews we've had an actor get a black eye by being hit during a dance number, we've had an actor lose a sibling and we've had an actor whose body was racked by food poisoning. And every one of them went "on with the show," perhaps a little shaky, but with full knowledge of what they've signed up for and that their onstage family was there for them.
Yes, the bows feel great, the parties are fun and you smile when you receive a rave review, but there is very little glamour in the world of theatre. Those who sign up thinking it'll make them famous or that a pretty face and flirting will get them by, sadly soon realize that they've made a massive mistake.
Bill Nolte. Photos by Diane Sobolewski
This is a world of passion. This is a world of storytellers. This is a world of truth.
This is especially true in our production of The Most Happy Fella. From day one we've all been told to just "tell the story". We were handed a beautiful (and tricky) show full of passion and romance and were steered by our creative team to commit to this world and to invest in our surroundings. We were encouraged to formulate relationships and connective tissue so that we weren't an ensemble full of actors adrift and just BS-ing their way through scenes. I can turn to my wife in the show and know who her brother is onstage and who took our son's first photos and why I came to work on Tony's ranch, and NONE of that is in the text...it's all in our creation and in our commitment to a true life onstage. That's theatre. That's passion. That is what's appealing...a stage full of professionals all living in one world and transporting audiences away for two and a half hours.
Nowhere can you get that happy feeling, when you are stealing that extra bow...
After five weeks of rehearsal and three weeks of previews, we are officially open.
Come and see us...
Come see the most gloriously voiced cast that I've ever worked with sing this triumphant score. There is so much love onstage that you can't help but smile when you're up there because you are absolutely working with the best that there is in this business.
Come see Frank Loesser's masterpiece in what I think is the best revival you will ever see of it. Trust me...I'm objective and picky.
Come see Rob Ruggiero's passionate work and leave with tears in your eyes and a soul swept away by romance. This man is a master of knowing how to streamline material, work out the kinks and present a powerful package to audiences.
Come see Parker Esse's choreography and how it's not just "dancer tricks" that so many have clogged our stages with and experience how he makes it all feel as if it were rooted within us and just part of the story.
Come see Mamie Parris and Bill Nolte command this vehicle, carving out career defining performances. Mamie will forever shatter your views of what an ingénue is and redefine it for any young actress watching her. Bill will give audiences the tour de force performances that we all hope we will see when we enter a theatre. He will take you on a journey that will raise you to your feet by curtain call...not because you want to, but because you have no choice but to.
Come see this actor sitting in his oversized denim jeans, plaid shirt and straw hat thinking that he'd rather be nowhere else on Earth, because by being up there he too makes the world spin and allows people to think and feel and cry and laugh and escape for a few hours every day.
....Now let's go on with the show.
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