Frank (Guys and Dolls) Loesser is said to have worked five years turning Sidney Howard's They Knew What They Wanted into a musical called The Most Happy Fella. Mr. Loesser apparently didn't quite know what he wanted, for Fella has too much of too many things. There are 33 songs, including a pastoral choral hymn to the summer night that sounds akin to the scythe song in Cavalleria Rusticana, plus some snappy items like Standing on the Corner. But why look for unity of conception and purpose? For Broadway,Fella is exceptionally fine and it has plenty for everybody. A trio of comic Italian waiters arc brilliant in the tenor range of Abbondanza. The dance action scores on exuberance if not on originality, especially the Sposalizio production, a wedding feast which subsides at last with one couple on the floor in the initial attitude of cohabitation.
The plot you may recall: Fiftyish Italo-Californian grape farmer lures pretty mail-order bride by sending her snapshot of his young foreman. At first bitter when she finds out, bride indulges in a one-night stand with foreman Joey, but gradually comes to love old Tony. Complication is that she's pregnant by Joey, but all ends happily.
Of the principals, Robert Weede, as Tony, has warmth and a good voice, but the role's Italian accent cramps his vocal style somewhat. Bride Jo Sullivan is fine of face and figure, but her voice isn't' always up to Loesser's operatic demands. Jo Mielziner's sets suggest the Napa Valley as we've always imagined it, and the audience applauded the Third Act set of a rail and bus depot. (At the Imperial: 45th, W. of B'way, N. Y. C.)