Palm Beach Dramaworks Extends Frank Loesser's THE MOST HAPPY FELLA In Concert, Now Through 8/3
On the heels of overwhelming critical acclaim and passionate audience response, Palm Beach Dramaworks has scheduled additional performances of Frank Loesser's achingly romantic musical The Most Happy Fella, starring William Michals. Originally slated to close on Sunday, July 27, the concert production will now continue at the Don & Ann Brown Theatre (201 Clematis) through Sunday, August 3.
To access the most up-to-date schedule and order tickets, call the box office at (561) 514-4042 or visit the theatre's website, www.palmbeachdramaworks.org, where 24-hour ticketing is available.
The Most Happy Fella, directed by Clive Cholertonwith musical direction by Howard Breitbart, tells the poignant love story of an aging, unprepossessing Italian immigrant grape farmer named Tony Esposito, and a young, world-weary waitress he calls Rosabella. The musical is based on Sidney Howard's 1925 Pulitzer Prize-winning play They Knew What TheyWanted, in which two people are so desperate to love and be loved that they almost ruin their chance for happiness. It is Loesser's most ambitious work: he wrote the libretto as well as the score, retaining Howard's basic plot while adding new characters including Tony's sister, Marie, and a secondary comic couple, Cleo and Herman.
It took Loesser four years to write the piece, which features more than 40 songs ranging in style from soaring operatic arias and duets including "My Heart Is So Full of You" and "Somebody Somewhere," to rousing musical comedy numbers such as "Big D" and "Standing on the Corner." Although there are those who categorize The Most Happy Fella as an opera, Loesser called the show "a musical with a lot of music."
The Most Happy Fella opened to rave reviews on May 3, 1956 and ran for 676 performances. The original Broadway production starred Robert Weedeas Tony and Jo Sullivan, who would go on to marry Loesser, as Rosabella. The show was revived to great acclaim on Broadway in 1992, a production that originated at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut. The score was reduced to a two-piano arrangement, and that version is heard in this concert presentation.
William Michals, one of musical theatre's finest baritones, triumphed at Palm Beach Dramaworks last season as Cervantes/Don Quixote in the concert production of Man of La Mancha. He was last seen on Broadway as Emile de Becque in the landmark revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific at Lincoln Center. Michals made his Broadway debut as The Beast in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and later returned to the show to play Gaston. Other credits include Chauvelin in the national tour of The Scarlet Pimpernel, Javert in LES MISERABLES, Billy Flynn inChicago, Harold Hill in The Music Man, Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music, and the title role in ThePhantom of the Opera. Making her PBD debut asRosabella is Jessica Hershberg, who most recently alternated as Cinderella in the Broadway production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella.
Joining Michals and Hershberg are Jim Ballard as Joe, the handsome, restless foreman; Jeni Hacker as Marie; Laura Hodos as Cleo, Rosabella's best friend; and Shane R. Tanner as Herman. The cast also includes Bill J. Adams, Ken Clement, Matthew Korinko, Abby Perkins, Roland Rusinek, Elizabeth Sackett, Stephanie White, Gabriel Zenone, andAnthony Zoeller.
All musical concerts are performed with limited instrumental accompaniment and minimal staging and design. These full-length presentations include both the score and the book.
Palm Beach Dramaworks is a non-profit, professional theatre and is a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the South Florida Theatre League, Southeastern Theatre Conference, Florida Professional Theatres Association, Florida Theatre Conference, and the Palm Beach County Cultural Council.
The Don & Ann Brown Theatre is located in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach at 201 Clematis Street.
Photo Credit: Joshua Stoughton