The Most Happy Fella | No Exit Cafe | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Molly Hernandez and William Roberts

Molly Hernandez and William Roberts

Adam Veness

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through May 7 2017
Price: $34, $29 students and seniors
New York Times theater critic Brooks Atkinson said of the 1956 production of this musical by Frank Loesser (based on Sidney Howard's 1924 play They Knew What They Wanted) that it was “about as close to opera as the rules of Broadway permit.” Indeed, the triangle at the heart of the story—foolish older rancher marries vivacious younger woman who in turn is sexually attracted to a feckless but virile hired hand—is pure opera, and most of Loesser's tunes approach bel canto. But the show’s pasted-on “happy” ending is less La Scala than Great White Way. That said, Theo Ubique’s staging in an intimate cabaret space brings out the best in Loesser’s finely shaded character development, an effect heightened by director Fred Anzevino’s preference for fine actors, like Molly Hernandez, who communicate volumes with a tiny movement of the hand or a slight twitch of the mouth. And when Loesser’s show transitions from dialogue to song, watch out! His full-throttle operatic score, sung by a strong-lunged, open-throated cast, blasts like heavy metal turned to 11. —Jack Helbig



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