The Most Happy Fella
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Jeff Thomas

Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma is the perfect setting for Frank Loesser’s The Most Happy Fella. This musical is set in the Napa Valley in the 1950s. Tony Esposito (Stephen Walsh) is a middle-aged vineyard owner who seems to have everything to be happy except the love of a woman. One day while visiting San Francisco, he has a meal at a restaurant and leaves the waitress a big tip and a message on a napkin expressing his feelings for this young woman he calls Rosabella (Tara Generalovich).

One of the beauties of this production is how easily it flows between musical and opera. Loesser took four years to write the score and the book, and when it opened on Broadway in 1956, it ran for two years and was the first show Columbia Records recorded in its entirety. Loesser, who also wrote Guys And Dolls and the Pulitzer Prize winning How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, struck an interesting balance, in The Most Happy Fella, between his classical music background (his father taught classical piano and his older brother was a concert pianist) and his love for pop music. There are moments where the tragic love stories in opera are hinted at such as in the song Please Let Me Tell You That I Love You, but they blend well with other hit songs like Warm All Over and Standing on the Corner (Watching All the Girls Go By). A cast of over 40 people adds a rich choral quality to this enjoyable production.

For tickets or more information call (707) 763-8920 or visit www.cinnabartheater.org.

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