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BWW Blog: Eric Ulloa of Goodspeed's THE MOST HAPPY FELLA - When You're Good to Mama

Every musical has to have their antagonist, and in our case we have two here in the Napa Valley. This week we feature our overbearing Italian sister hostess with the mostess our very own "Marie", Ann Arvia.

Ann has the challenging job of making a role that can easily come across as a pain in the ass, into something layered and nuanced while also singing her soprano brains out. And boy does she ever do it beautifully and richly.

Ann also has the very exciting task of singing a song never before heard in The Most Happy Fella (It was cut before the original Broadway opening), "Eyes of a Stranger," which adds such dimension into why Marie acts the way she does and allows audiences to see just how damn good an actress our wonderful Ann Arvia is.

Ann Arvia

Eric Ulloa: If you could go back and retackle a role from your past, what would that role be and why would you want a second chance at it?

Ann Arvia: Hands down, Rose in "Gypsy." I had my first crack at it when I was 37...18 more years of living and life experience makes that a no brainer. Hopefully, I'll get another shot at it while I still have the stamina!

Ann Arvia in "Gypsy"]

EU: As a proud Italian lady, what's your signature dish? The one people rave about?

AA: Well, there are several dishes people kvel over; I'd say that it's a toss up between any pasta with my Grandma Arvia's gravy (sauce) recipe. It's an all day affair that simmers on low with 3 different kinds of neck bones (beef, pork & veal) for depth of flavor. The meat eventually falls off the bone, fish out the bones & you're done. And I've had more than a few compliments on my risotto.

EU: What are three things you will always find at your dressing station?

AA: A fan.

An electric kettle.

A magnifying mirror...sad, but true.

EU: What's a male role in the musical theatre canon that you would love to play in a dream world? Why?

AA: The first one that pops into my brain is Sweeney Todd, because, hello...why wouldn't you wanna??? But then, when I expand my parameters of dreaming, Coalhouse Walker is a frontrunner as well. Again...why not? You get to be everything & run the gambit of human emotions...lover, father, crusader, "widower," crusader...dead. Sorry for the spoiler...

Ann Arvia in her dream role of Sweeney Todd

EU: Tell me about your most embarrassing moment onstage.

AA: Oh, there are many to choose from, but I have to believe that it was the time I called Jean Valjean (in "Les Miserables") "a raisin."
How is that possible, you might ask? Well, in the prologue, during the "Little Inn," Valjean (while on parole) enters and is warming himself by the fire and the Innkeeper's Wife (not to be confused with Mme. Thenardier who shows up later) sings to him, "My rooms are full and I've no supper to spare. I'd like to help a stranger, all we want is to be fair."
On this particular night, the word "stranger" eluded me & in that panicked nanosecond, my brain went, "It's 2 syllables, has an "r", an "s" and an "a" in it."
And out came "raisin."
I walked into the stage manager's office during my 1st break & put in a vacation request.

Ann Arvia in The Most Happy Fella. Photo by Diane Sobolewski

Hope you enjoyed getting to know our lovely Ann, and come back later this week to hear all about the exciting world of Understudy Rehearsals, or as I call it, no rest for the weary!

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Eric Ulloa is thrilled to check “Goodspeed” off the life goal list. Eric has performed at North Shore Music Theatre, Signature Theatre, Fulton Opera House, (read more...)