Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Most Happy Fella

“You ain’t young no more, and you ain’t good-lookin’, and you ain’t smart.”

Thus says Marie to her brother, the unconventional protagonist of The Most Happy Fella. He has proposed to a young woman by letter and sent a photo of his handsome foreman in his stead. This Cyrano set-up could have carried a musical comedy but writer Frank Loesser was more ambitious. He resolves things quickly to focus on Tony’s rocky marriage to his wary new bride.

Loesser is best remembered for the brassy scores of Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed. The Most Happy Fella is something different. The brass is mixed with complex arias, quartets and chorales. The title role was originated by operatic baritone Robert Weede though Loesser denied the work was an opera. When asked he said “It’s a musical with a lot of music.”

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