I caught a performance of The Most Happy Fella at Point Loma Nazarene University on Saturday night the 16th of November.
It was good.
What stood out to me the most in this production was the evenness of the cast.
Since this was a student-run show, it was possible that one or two cast members would stand out and run away with the show.
It was also possible that a few cast members would be in way over their heads and drown on stage.
That’s simply the nature of student productions, by and large.
However, that was not the case with The Most Happy Fella.
The entire cast was evenly matched and it kept the audience “in” the show. I found myself caring about the characters and their circumstances.
I wasn’t distracted by thoughts such as “Wow, that guy is amazing”, or "I hope that guy isn’t a music major because he’s wasting his time--and money.”
I was able to sit back and enjoy the story because the entire cast was up to the task of communicating it.
The Most Happy Fella is not your typical piece of musical theater. The music is tuneful but it has substance and it is difficult.
One element that was missing was language. When Tony finds out that his Rosabella is pregnant with someone else’s baby, he’s supposed to say, “God damn you.”
Since Point Loma is a Christian school, this was removed after an earlier performance.
“Thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain”. Under the circumstances of the scene, Tony was not taking the Lord’s name in vain, he was quite earnest in his conviction.
I can’t believe we’re even talking about this. It is a juvenile, childish approach to language that is out of place in the context of the performing arts.
There is no such thing as a bad word, they are neutral. The ideas that words express might be deemed to be good or bad but the words have nothing to do with it.
In this situation, Tony is trying to express an emotion of suffering, anger and betrayal and the inclusion of "God damn you" is appropriate and would have been dramatically impressive.
What else would the administration at Point Loma care to rewrite?
How about, “Take your stinking hands off me you darn dirty ape”?
That’s just nonsense because an ape might be able to darn garments but could never be a darn itself. An ape could be darned but that would be beyond weird.
I suppose it’s no big deal but I was shocked by the edit.