The Inland Valley Repertory Theatre has been around since 1990 presenting popular plays and musicals in various locales. This group’s latest production is “The Most Happy Fella” set to open on Aug. 26 at the Candlelight Pavilion Theater in Claremont.
Founded by Donna Marie Minano and her husband, Frank, both seasoned performers. Frank acts as the Producing Artistic Director of IVRT and Donna Marie is the general manager.
Donna Marie grew up in Arcadia, attending Baldwin Stocker Elementary and Arcadia High School. The school district’s music program gave her sufficient background to attend Occidental College and Cal State Long Beach to obtain a music degree in oboe. In addition to the theater, wherein she often appears as a vocalist, she conducts the chorister program at Claremont United Methodist Church, teaches general music in the Claremont Unified School District, and also accepts singers for private instruction.
As the production got under way, another Arcadian, Robert Hoyt, became available for the role of Giuseppe in “The Most Happy Fella.” Hoyt, a tenor, had a short period available before he is to begin rehearsals with the Los Angeles Opera for performances for the coming season. His debut at L. A. Opera will be in the up-coming “Ring” cycle of
Wagner operas, notably in “Gotterdammerung.” His vocal training began seriously under Larry Warden at Arroyo High Choir, and was enhanced with his connection to Citrus College’s Ben D. Bollinger, and finally college level experience and professional appearances with opera companies and theater groups all over the country. It is a happy coincidence that Hoyt returned to his Arcadia roots just long enough to appear in the IVRT production.
“The Most Happy Fella” is a creation of composer/lyricist Frank Loesser who is remembered for the music in “Guys and Dolls” and even “Jingle Jangle Jingle.” This musical, with a strong story line, is special for Californians. The story takes place in Napa Valley and tells of a middle-aged vintner’s tale to find a bride. Hit songs such as “Standin’ on the Corner” and “Big D” are surrounded by many catchy tunes.
Heading the cast is Frank Minano as Tony reprising his award-winning role in IVRT’s 1994 production of “The Most Happy Fella.” Laura Lindahl appears as Rosabella. Others in the case include Isaac James, A.J. Mendoza, Sarah Errington, Jonathon Arana, Harriet Bennish, Jim Brown, Zentaro Mitani, Bobby Collins, Tess Jose, Ben Dunlap, Tom Molinaro and Mark MacKenzie. Directing is Terre Gunkel, with Music Director Dave Osborn; Choreographer is Dawn Ellen Ferry and Assistant-Director Hope \Kaufman.
By Bill Peters