SUNDAY, APRIL 12
A live orchestra and cast of 55 students present Frank Loesser’s romantic musical favorite “The Most Happy Fella,” April 24-26 at Oklahoma City University.
Filled with sweeping ballads and splashy numbers, the musical marks the finale of the 2008-09 season of Oklahoma City University’s Oklahoma Opera and Music Theater Company. OCU’s production, set in the postwar 1940s, features David Herendeen as director and Jan McDaniel as musical director.
“Frank Loesser set out to write a work that was all things to all people: a populist musical that celebrated America as a melting pot, a Broadway hit with ‘boffo’ songs, and a truly American opera,” McDaniel said. “And he succeeded in spades.”
The musical unites such show-stoppers as “Standing on the Corner” and “Big D” with angst-ridden recitative — and includes a trio of chefs who speak and sing only in Italian, a secondary love story seemingly ripped from Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” and a title character whose simple, luxurious vocal lines suggest Leoncavallo and Mascagni.
The show’s lasting popularity has inspired two Broadway revivals.
The PG-rated love story, from the composer/lyricist of “Guys and Dolls,” tells the story of a mix up when a middle-aged wine maker’s mail-order proposal is accepted by a young woman who thinks the handsome young foreman is her intended husband.
Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a 3 p.m. Sunday matinee, in Kirkpatrick Performing Arts Auditorium, NW 25th and Blackwelder. Advance tickets ($12-25) are available from 405.208.5227.
A free director’s talk with Herendeen will be held 45 minutes before curtain. McDaniel will be featured in the April 24 broadcast of “Spotlight on the Arts” on KCSC/KBCW public radio, 90.1 FM, with Brad Ferguson.
“’The Most Happy Fella’ is a particularly sentimental work for me, since I met my wife Catherine during a production of the show, when I was musical director and she was a dancer,” McDaniel said. “Interestingly, Frank Loesser met the love of his life, Jo Sullivan, during the first production of ‘Fella,’ when she was cast in the lead female role of Rosabella. It seems that love is in the air whenever ‘The Most Happy Fella’ is performed!”
For more information about OCU’s Opera and Music Theater Company, the Bass School of Music, and Oklahoma City University, visit www.okcu.edu/music.