Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA's Opera Theater to present 'The Most Happy Fella'

March 26, 2015 - Robbie Goodrich
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin State University School of Music's production of Frank Loesser's musical comedy "The Most Happy Fella" will offer an abundance of great roles that will showcase the talents of SFA voice students.

SFA Opera Theater will present "The Most Happy Fella" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, April 9 through 11, in W.M. Turner Auditorium on the SFA campus as part of the College of Fine Arts' University Series, "Connect."

"When 'The Most Happy Fella' opened on Broadway in 1956, there was so much music and so many great songs that pundits and critics argued whether is was an opera or a musical," said Deborah Dalton, associate professor of voice at SFA and director of the production. "It really has everything - blockbuster chorus numbers, comedy songs and lush, gorgeous ballads.

"It's a musical comedy on steroids," she said with a laugh.

With book, music and lyrics by Loesser, "The Most Happy Fella" is based on Sidney Howard's "They Knew What They Wanted."

A touching, dramatic and intensely personal love story, "The Most Happy Fella" will warm hearts in depicting the May-December romance when a city bride is wooed by an aging Italian grape farmer who nearly botches everything until his true goodness shines through, according to the show's description at the Musical Theatre International website.

"With a gorgeous score and spirited dancing, it's a simple and touching love story that makes for an extraordinary night of theatre," the description says.

Dalton has loved this show since she first saw the 1992 SFA Opera production of it.

"Its sizable score showcases strong singers," she said, "including a mature operatic baritone and a young soprano ingénue for the two lead roles. The rest of the large cast consists of a winsome comic duo for the secondary leads and a host of other compelling characters. There are so many good roles to feature our talented voice students!"

In selecting each spring's opera, identifying SFA's most advanced singers and determining which show will give them the best educational and musical experience is of paramount importance, Dalton said.

"We also must double cast roles to give more students an opportunity to perform and to alternate leads so their voices can rest," she said.

Dalton suggests that "The Most Happy Fella" is a production everyone should see. But she warns that there are a few outbursts of what she described as "salty language."

Those who see this year's opera performance will leave with "memories of a lovely production," Dalton said, and with the inspiration to "never lose hope or your dreams," a better understanding of "the power of forgiveness," and the realization of "how words can destroy as well as restore people," she said.

She hopes that each patron experiences what The New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson wrote in his review: "A profoundly moving theatrical experience … a rare achievement for the theatre." He ended the review by saying, "Broadway is used to heart. It is not accustomed to evocations of the soul."

This production is sponsored in part by Point A Media. Prior to Thursday's opening night performance, Dalton will give a 7 p.m. informative talk in Griffith Gallery located across the hall from Turner Auditorium.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $7.50 for students. For tickets or more information, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit www.finearts.sfasu.edu.

Turner Auditorium is located in the Griffith Fine Arts Building, 2222 Alumni Drive.