Photo: Ken Singleton and William Roberts in THE MOST HAPPY FELLA (Adam Veness)
Review: THE MOST HAPPY FELLA at Theo Ubique
By Rebecca Keeshin
Ah, Napa. What a place to be this month when it feels like the whole city is itching for a vacation. Luckily, if you go on over to the No Exit Café, you can easily take a two and a half hour trip with Theo Ubique’s THE MOST HAPPY FELLA. When you walk into the space you are encompassed by an array of lights and flowers, immediately welcoming the audience into the world they are about to enter. The scenic design by Adam Veness creates a quaint and luminous setting that engages the viewer even before the house lights come down.
Known as Frank Loesser’s “most operatic musical,” The MOST HAPPY FELLA is no vocal walk in the park. The score is vigorous and requires a high level of skill. On Monday night, the company at Theo Ubique demonstrated not only skill in their production, but an understanding of the work that led them to strongly communicate to the audience the story at hand. THE MOST HAPPY FELLA showcases some of the fine singers that Chicago has to offer. Jeremy Ramey’s musical direction has led the entire company, from the actors to the orchestra, in the direction of precision and discovery with the music. The cast is composed of opera singers and musical theater artists, and it serves the score to have trained singers of both worlds coming together. The choreography by James Beaudry goes hand in hand with the music in its specificity. It is elegantly staged and executed with the amount of space the actors have. It is clear that this entire team knows this space inside and out and the best way to showcase their story in it.
Led by William Roberts and Molly Hernandez, it easy to fall in love and truly care about the story. At first, you are just as alarmed as Rosabella when you realize that Tony, or “The Most Happy Fella” himself is an older man. It makes sense that Rosabella would spend a night with the young and appealing Joe after discovering her pen pal is an old grape framer. Amidst the story unfolding between Tony and Rosabella, we also meet Rosabella’s brassy friend Cleo (Courtney Jones) and watch her love story unfold with friendly and likable Herman (Joe Giovannetti). The two discover they are both from Dallas and fall for one another, despite Herman’s constant state of content and good nature that drives Cleo wild. All four actors have shining voices that carry us through the performance and connections to each other that leave us rooting for a positive outcome; as well as Ken Singleton’s performance as Joe that leaves us ready for adventure after his rendition of “Joey, Joey, Joey.”
THE MOST HAPPY FELLA is a celebration of life and the different paths we all take to finding where we fit in this world. Love comes in many forms, and THE MOST HAPPY FELLA proves that love will lead us to where we are supposed to be.