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November 11, 2008:

THE MOST HAPPY FELLA

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I am bushed. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, I, BK, am bushed and it’s only Tuesday. Yesterday was totally nuts in just about every way. For example, I got up early. That was totally nuts. I then did the long jog. That was totally nuts. I then had a lovelier than lovely early lunch with friend Lauren – that was very nice. We went to Hugo’s and I had Papa’s Eggs – scrambled eggs with a little bacon and a little sausage. No toast and no potatoes, so it was a nice, light meal. I then did some errands and came home to wait for the CD shipment. Whilst waiting, I did work on the computer and had a few telephonic calls. The CDs arrived precisely on time at three o’clock. I then packaged up all the single and multiple orders, as well as prepared the six big boxes for UPS. I’m talking nine hundred CDs – thankfully, six hundred of them were in the big boxes and all I had to do with those was put them in the car with the already filled out UPS forms. I then took all the USPS stuff to the USPS and dropped them off on the loading dock in back. I then drove to the UPS Store and shipped off the six big boxes. When I came home, I then prepared six priority mail boxes with the rest of the orders. Those would have gone out today, but I’m told there is no mail today because it’s Veteran’s Day. So, first thing tomorrow they’ll go out. For a time, I was worried I’d actually run out of CDs, but I got everything packed, although I do have to short one online speculator by fifty CDs. When all is said and done, I’ll have twenty CDs left for emergencies. As I was about to leave the house (this all took exactly three hours to pack and ship – non-stop), the telephonic device rang and I had to have a really annoying conversation – as it turns out, however, the person doing the annoying had to apologize and eat his words because I was in the right, I proved it, and he sheepishly got off the phone. I then hurried out the door and drove to the Dale of Glen to see The Most Happy Fella. The traffic was horrendous, but I got to the theater and parked by about 6:45. I picked up my ticket (an excellent seat), then killed some time at the book store across the street. I then entered the theater, spoke to a few people I knew and then I took my excellent seat. The show began promptly at seven-thirty.

Last night, I saw the Musical Theatre Guild concert staging (or whatever they call what it is they do) of Frank Loesser’s The Most Happy Fella. They have to put these things together quite quickly, so it’s not really fair to criticize them. It’s a hybrid thing – they carry scripts, don’t really refer to them, there’s blocking, but it’s simple and perfunctory, and there’s some choreography. The cast does the best it can, and there were some fine performances, although obviously with more time the performances would have had more nuance. The Tony sang well, and Michelle Duffy was a fine Rosabella. I will say this – The Most Happy Fella remains one of my ten favorite musicals of all time (and high up on that list). It is, for me, a masterpiece. The music is astonishingly beautiful and catchy and fun and romantic and soaring and touching. The story works beautifully. I’ve told the story many times, but when I saw this show for the first time, in San Bernadino at a theater in the round, it was a life-changing experience. Part of that was due to seeing two of the original stars – Mr. Robert Weede and Mr. Art Lund. The direction of that production was supberb – by theater in the round vet Ernie Sarracino. I was so bowled over by every aspect of the show, but especially Mr. Weede, that I wangled my way backstage and asked to meet him. I was at the closing day matinee and they still had the closing night show to do. Mr. Weede came out and was so gracious and so kind and so supportive (I told him I was a would be actor), and I told him (and meant it) that his performance was the greatest I’d ever seen. He invited me to stay for the evening performance and then invited me to the cast party, a kindness I’ve never forgotten. So, he and the show hold a very special place in my heart. It was fun to see it again, but what I’d really like is to see a first-class revival with a brilliant cast and great director, great sets and lighting and costumes, the whole deal. I did see the revival of ten years ago, but while I enjoyed it, it really didn’t get to me emotionally, and that I blame on the two-piano arrangement of the score. I love the sound of two pianos, but I do not think a score like The Most Happy Fella is served well. It’s a big, sprawling, operatic score and it needs its orchestra and orchestrations. Unfortunately, the MTG show used the two pianos. Finally, let me just say this: I am so sick, sick to the point of physical nausea, of the sound in these theaters. I have a roaring headache because they were blasting the sound of the actors. It’s so unpleasant and so unfair to the actors and so wrong on every level. It was grotesque. This isn’t a rock concert, it’s a musical. And then there’s the whooping and hollering audience – it’s offensive – again, it’s a musical, not a rock concert. If you applaud appreciatively, the actors get it – they know you’re enjoying the show. You don’t have to behave like a bunch of tweens. I will be playing the cast album in its entirety today. What a show! What a score! I don’t think we will ever see or hear its like again. It’s breathtaking, actually – those gloriously glorious melodies, each more infectious than the last. And when they get to My Heart Is So Full Of You, one of the most amazing duets in the history of musical theater, I’m a pile of mush.

What am I, Ben Brantley all of a sudden? Why don’t we all click on the Unseemly button below because frankly I am bushed.

Have I mentioned how much I love The Most Happy Fella? Today, I shall get up early, do the long jog, then do work on the Bacharach show and catch up on some telephonic calls that I’ve been putting off. I’ll also deliver a big box o’ CDs sometime in the afternoon.

Tomorrow, I’ll ship out the remaining packages, and I also have a meeting with our very own Miss Alet Taylor. The rest of the week is meals and meetings and Bacharach business, plus a little Nudie Musical writing.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, do the long jog, do work on the Bacharach show, do a few errands and whatnot and deliver a big box o’ CDs. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your all-time favorite Frank Loesser songs? He’s in my pantheon of greats, and I’ll be interested to hear your choices. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, and do remember that I’m the most happy fella.

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