Majestic Theatre, (10/11/1979 - 11/25/1979)

First Preview: Sep 20, 1979
Opening Date: Oct 11, 1979
Closing Date: Nov 25, 1979
Total Previews: 23
Total Performances: 53

Category: Musical, Comedy, Revival, Broadway
Description: A musical in three acts
Setting: San Francisco; Napa, California; and Tony's home and barn. 1927.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Bernard B. Jacobs: President)

Produced by Sherwin M. Goldman; Produced in association with Michigan Opera Theatre (David DiChiera, General Director) and Emhan, Inc.

Book by Frank Loesser; Music by Frank Loesser; Lyrics by Frank Loesser; Based on "They Knew What They Wanted" by Sidney Howard; Musical Director: Andrew Meltzer; Music orchestrated by Don Walker

Directed by Jack O'Brien; Choreographed by Graciela Daniele

Scenic Design by Douglas W. Schmidt; Costume Design by Nancy Potts; Lighting Design by Gilbert V. Hemsley, Jr.

General Manager: Mario De Maria

Production Stage Manager: Herb Vogler; Stage Manager: Ben Janney

Conducted by Eric Stern; Music Contractor: Seymour "Red" Press; Associate Conductor: Alfonso Cavaliere

Casting: Johnson-Liff Associates; General Press Representative: The Merlin Group, Ltd.; Dance Captain: Tina Paul; Press Representative: Becky Flora, Glen Gary and Marguerite Wolfe; Advertising: Lawrence Weiner and Associates

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Opening Night Cast

Giorgio TozziTony
Steven Alex-ColeMax
Neighbor
Lawrence AsherThe Priest
Neighbor
Dean BadolatoClem
Neighbor
Frederick Burchinal
Wednesday and Saturday matinees
Tony
Alternate
Michael CapesThe Bus Driver
Neighbor
Richard CroftNeighbor
Sharon DanielsRosabella
Stephen DubovSheriff
Neighbor
Louisa FlaningamCleo
Tim FlavinBusboy
Neighbor
Karen GiombettiWaitress
Neighbor
Bill HastingsThe Cashier
The Brakeman
Neighbor
D. Michael HeathNeighbor
Melanie HeltonNeighbor's Lady
Neighbor
Adrienne LeonettiMarie
Joe McGrathThe Doctor
Linda Michele
Wednesday and Saturday matinees
Rosabella
Alternate
David MilesJake
Neighbor
Richard MuenzJoe
Darren NimnichtPasquale
Dan O'SullivanThe Postman
Tina PaulWaitress
Neighbor
D'arcy PhiferWaitress
Neighbor
Patrice PickeringNeighbor
Candace RogersNeighbor
Dee Etta RoweNeighbor's Lady
Neighbor
Bonnie SimmonsNeighbor
Franco SpotoCiccio
Gene VarroneGiuseppe
Dennis WarningHerman
Jane WarsawNeighbor's Lady
Neighbor
Richard WhiteNeighbor
Carla WilkinsNeighbor
Sally WilliamsNeighbor's Lady
Neighbor
Kevin WilsonAl
Neighbor
Smith WordesWaitress
Neighbor

Swings: Philip Jerry and Laurie Scandurra

Understudies: Lawrence Asher (The Postman), Michael Capes (Clem), Richard Croft (Ciccio), Stephen Dubov (Al), D. Michael Heath (Jake), David Miles (Herman), Dan O'Sullivan (Pasquale), Dee Etta Rowe (Cleo), Franco Spoto (Giuseppe, The Doctor), Richard White (Joe, The Cashier) and Carla Wilkins (Marie)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 1980 Best Actor in a Musical [nominee] 

Giorgio Tozzi

Drama Desk Award

 1980 Outstanding Actor in a Musical [nominee] 

Giorgio Tozzi

Songs

music by Frank Loesser; lyrics by Frank Loesser

ACT 1 Sung By
Ooh! My Feet!Cleo
I Know How It IsCleo and Rosabella
Seven Million CrumbsCleo
I Don't Know (The Letter)Rosabella
Maybe He's Kind of CrazyRosabella and Cleo
Somebody, SomewhereRosabella
The Most Happy FellaTony and Neighbors
A Long Time AgoMarie and Tony
Standing on the CornerHerman, Clem, Jake and Al
Joey, Joey, JoeyJoe
Soon You Gonna Leave Me, JoeTony
RosabellaTony
AbbondanzaGiuseppe, Pasquale and Ciccio
Plenty BambiniTony
SposalizioNeighbors
Special Delivery!The Postman
BenvenutaGiuseppe, Pasquale, Ciccio and Joe
Aren't You Glad?Rosabella
No Home, No JobRosabella
Eyes like a strangerMarie
Don't CryJoe and Rosabella
ACT 2 Sung By
Fresno BeautiesWorkers
Cold and DeadRosabella and Joe
Love and KindnessThe Doctor
Happy to Make Your AcquaintanceRosabella, Tony and Cleo
I Don't Like This DameMarie and Cleo
Big DCleo, Herman and Neighbors
How Beautiful the DaysTony, Rosabella, Marie and Joe
Young PeopleMarie, Tony and Young Neighbors
Warm All OverRosabella
Old People GottaTony
I Like EverybodyHerman and Cleo
I Love HimRosabella
I Know How It IsCleo
Like a Woman Loves a ManRosabella
My Heart Is So Full of YouTony and Rosabella
HoedownTony, Rosabella and Neighbors
Mamma, MammaTony
Abbondanza (Reprise) Pasquale, Giuseppe and Ciccio
Goodbye, Darlin'Cleo and Herman
I Like Everybody (Reprise) Herman and Cleo
Song of a Summer NightThe Doctor and Neighbors
Please Let Me Tell YouRosabella
Tell Tony and Rosabella Goodbye for Me (Tony's Thoughts)Joe
She Gonna Come Home Wit' MeTony
Nobody's Ever Gonna Love YouTony, Marie and Cleo
I Made a FistHerman and Cleo
Finale

Reviews


New York Daily News: "'Most Happy Fella' ages well"

Just how much Broadway misses the late Frank Loesser is evidenced by the handsome revival of "The Most Happy Fella" that came to the Majestic last evening. This most ambitious of his works, first seen in the spring of 1956 (it followed "My Fair Lady" by a bare two months) still has its problems, but it represents such an outpouring of talent that it almost demands to be heard at regular intervals. And this production, its first in over a decade, is in many respects the best.

It is a work that calls for genuine singers, and, praise be, this is a musical in which neither the stage nor the performers are miked, which alone makes it unique among Broadway's current musical shows. Giorgio Tozzi, whose baritone remains a rich instrument after years of operatic service, sings right to us in the role of Tony, the aging Napa Valley farmer who hungers for a wife and child, and Sharon Daniels, the soprano who plays his mail-order bride Rosabella, does the same. And so do the others. How refreshing to hear real singing voices from a stage once more!

You may remember that the big hit (this is a score with almost three dozen song numbers, or thrice the content of the average musical) was "Standing on the Corner," originally written for "Guys and Dolls." And it so happens that this and such other lively pieces as "Big D," "I Like Everybody" and "Abbondanza," some of them introducing rousing dance interludes, provide the evening's happiest moments, along with a few tender and simple musical expressions on the order of "Joey, Joey, Joey" and "Somebody, Somewhere."

But you'll also recall that Loesser, who provided his own book as well as the lyrics and music, was dealing with Sidney Howard's 1924-25 drama "They Knew What They Wanted," and it is the more dramatic aspects of the story that contrarily give the musical its least appeal. At these junctures Loesser, while always composing with intelligence and a sound dramatic sense, falls back too often on 19th century operatic devices, and the effect is almost invariably stale. And the unfortunate Tozzi, already burdened by the tale with one leg in a cast, is further saddled with most of this musical fustian. He's an extremely winning Tony, actually, but he can't surmount the heavy, creaking dramatic strokes of the play and the music employed to illustrate these moments. Even the title song, meant to be jaunty, sounds more like wishful thinking than true high spirits.

Sharon Daniels, a somewhat stiff actress with a pleasant voice, suffers less as Rosabella - she is given a couple of agreeable ballads - but is also ground down by the book eventually. And the Joey, though well sung and adequately set forth in other respects by Richard Muenz, is a rather lost soul in the enterprise, with little more than the strains of "Joey, Joey, Joey" to tag along like wisps of emotion.

As a result of all this, the comedy lovers, Cleo and Herman, come off better than the main pair - she with her opening "Ooh! My Feet!," he with his "I Like Everybody," and the two of them with "Big D." The parts are cliches, but they spark the show in bright performances by Luisa Flaningham and Dennis Waring. And a word for Giuseppe, Pasquale and Ciccio, the trio of chefs who, in the full throats of Gene Varrone, Darren Nimnicht and Franco Spotto, raise the roof with "Abbondanza." Adrienne Leonetti is good in the unattractive role of Tony's resentful sister Marie.

Of course, there are many telling sentimental exchanges throughout the evening - Tony's and Rosabella's "Happy to Make Our Acquaintance" is one such - and one must respect the extent to which Loesser involved himself in a music drama, even though the end result is uneven.

The production, designed by Douglas W. Schmidt, costumed by Nancy Potts and lighted by Gilbert V. Helmsley Jr., is lovely to look at. Jack O'Brien has directed it with a sure hand, and Gabriele Daniele has created several delightful dance sequences, borrowing liberally from De Mille, and who better for a show of this kind?

There is sufficient energy and imagination at work in "The Most Happy Fella," along with spirited singing and dancing, to make the evening worth any theatergoer's while. Even at its most doubtful, it's superior to the average Broadway musical.


New York Daily News
10/12/1979

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