By Maria Rodriguez
A Most Happy Fella opens at the Hartke Theater on campus.
“Basically, it chronicles the journey of this woman who is known as Rosabella,” said Emma Onasch, senior music theater major who plays the lead role of Rosabella.
She receives a mysterious letter from a customer singing the praises of her physical beauty and inviting her out to Napa Valley to live on a ranch.
Rosabella thinks this man who she thinks is dashing, but turns out to be an old man. But this is a musical, so instead of running away, romance ensues.
It’s a story of a different sort, but it wasn’t the romantic tale that drew Onasch, but the music.
“The score attracted me immediately. It’s some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. It’s close to opera but it’s not,” said Onasch.
This is Onasch’s first leading role. Onasch credits her CUA training through her vocal coach, Arianna Zuckerman and Acting I Professor Gary Sloan, whom she calls “brilliant and wonderful.” So, what’s made playing the lead more difficult?
“I’ve been forced to delve deeper [into my character’s background] because some lines I may not think are important may be important to people’s understanding of the character.”
Onasch likes the investigation of characters and finding the nuances hidden in a character’s lines. This works well, because CUA does a lot of ‘golden age musicals’ which has a lot of ‘type’ characters.
“I think that a lot of people take the characters in golden age musicals for granted…like oh, yeah she’s the dumb ingénue or she’s the classic leading lady and there’s nothing beneath the surface but I think that even though CUA may not always do the more edgy musicals, our challenges as students is to find the fresh take on those old characters,” said Onasch.
In spite of Onasch’s glowing approval of musicals from the genre’s hey-day, CUA will be presenting a modern musical in the spring. Musical theater legend Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods will run on the mainstage next semester.
A Most Happy Fella runs Friday to Sunday on the Hartke Theater stage.