Bard Summerscape Announces Casting for “Most Happy In Concert,” Conceived by Tony Award Nominee Daniel Fish and His Oklahoma! Music Collaborators Daniel Kluger and Nathan Koci
Mikaela Bennett, Tina Fabrique, Jules Latimer, Erin Markey, April Matthis, Mallory Portnoy, and Mary Testa Perform Songs from Frank Loesser’s The Most Happy Fella, August 5-7Bard SummerScape today announces casting for Most Happy in Concert, a setting of Frank Loesser’s songs for The Most Happy Fella from director Daniel Fish and arrangers Daniel Kluger and Nathan Koci, who previously collaborated on the Tony Award-winning production of Oklahoma! that originated at Bard SummerScape in 2015. The live-in-person performances take place on the evenings of August 5, 6, and 7 on an outdoor stage being constructed at Bard’s Montgomery Place campus on the Hudson River.
Most Happy in Concert begins nightly at 7:30pm. Tickets are $45 for a pod of 1–3 people and $90 for a pod of 3–6, and can be purchased by visiting Bard’s website at fishercenter.bard.edu, calling 845.758.7900, or emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frank Loesser, the legendary composer-songwriter behind Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, accrued a string of honors including an Academy Award, multiple Tony Awards, and a Pulitzer Prize. New York Magazine has proclaimed his 1956 classic The Most Happy Fella, featuring some of his most soaring lyricism, “one of the greatest musicals ever. Or one of the greatest operas,” and concluded, “Hell, it’s just great.”
A meditation on the desire for human connection, made only more poignant by the isolation of the past year, Most Happy in Concert is conceived and directed by Daniel Fish and features music arrangements by Daniel Kluger and Nathan Koci, vocal arrangements by Nathan Koci and Daniel Fish, and orchestrations by Daniel Kluger.
Of Most Happy in Concert, Fish explains, “The need to be seen, to be heard, to be recognized shakes itself free from traditional storytelling to emerge in the primal act of song. What happens when, out of stasis, the need to scream becomes a song? What occurs in people when they allow music to work on them and possess them? The answers lie in the singing of Loesser’s extraordinary songs, including ‘Warm All Over,’ ‘Standing on the Corner,’ ‘Somebody Somewhere,’ and ‘My Heart Is So Full of You.’ In this concert setting, plot fades away and a different kind of story emerges—one made of raw human emotion expressed in song and persona."
In Most Happy in Concert, a cast of seven female and non-binary vocalists, backed by a 13-piece instrumental ensemble comprised of Grammy-nominated members from The Resonance Collective Jazz Orchestra, performs songs from the work: Mikaela Bennett (Acquanetta at ProtoType, Renascence), Tina Fabrique (Ragtime, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying), Jules Latimer (Paris, Angela’s Mixtape), Erin Markey (Peter Pan at Bard SummerScape, Dr. Ride’s American Beach House), April Matthis (Toni Stone, Gatz), Mallory Portnoy (Oklahoma! At Bard SummerScape, St. Ann’s Warehouse, and on Broadway, Privacy), and three-time Tony nominee Mary Testa (Oklahoma! At Bard SummerScape, St. Ann’s Warehouse, and on Broadway, Guys and Dolls).
Health and Safety at Bard SummerScape
The health and safety of Bard’s audiences, artists and staff are of paramount importance. All SummerScape productions will be presented in adherence with strict COVID protocols and in accordance with NY State guidance and Bard College’s safety regulations. Learn more about SummerScape 2021 health and safety protocols here.
About the Cast
Mikaela Bennett is a recent graduate of The Juilliard School and has quickly become celebrated as a singer and actress for her work on stage and in the concert hall. Her Off-Broadway credits include Renascence (World Premiere), Acquanetta (directed by Daniel Fish, World Premiere), and The Golden Apple (Encores!). Outside New York, she has starred in West Side Story (Lyric Opera; Royal Albert Hall) and Cinderella (MUNY). Orchestras/Venues include LA Philharmonic, NY Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, BBC Proms, Carnegie Hall. Most recently, Bennett sang the role of Mary Wintergreen in MasterVoices’ concert production of Gershwin’s Let ‘Em Eat Cake at Carnegie Hall.
Tina Fabrique has made numerous appearances on stage and screen, with Broadway / New York, first national tour credits including Bring in Da Noise, Ragtime, How to Succeed, Gospel at Colonus, Dessa Rose, Once on This Island, Dolphins and Sharks, 70 Girls 70l The Wiz, Ella, and performances at venues such as Radio City Music Hall and The Apollo Theater. Regional credits include Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Women of Brewster Place, The Haunted Life, and Newsies. TV & Film: Blue Bloods, Reckless, Donna, God Friended Me (CBS); New Amsterdam (ABC); Boys in the Band (film); Law and Order - SVU and Criminal Intent; Reading Rainbow - Sings Theme; The Last OG; and Mrs Fletcher. Awards: For Ella, The Kevin Kline Award, The Carbonell Award, The Acclaim Award; for The First Noel, The Audelco Award; The James Cleveland Gospel Music Award (Best Female Vocalist).
Jules Latimer is a recent graduate of The Juilliard School. Her Off-Broadway credits include Paris (Atlantic Theater); Regional: Angela’s Mixtape (Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse) and Romeo and Juliet (Chautauqua Theatre Company). Some of Latimer’s favorite roles have been Prospero in The Tempest, She in The Owl Answers, and Pumpkin in Paradise Blue.
Erin Markey is an actor and writer/creator of live performance works that are darkly comedic and driven by original music. Their most recent shows, including Singlet (Bushwick Starr, 2018), Boner Killer (Joe's Pub, Under The Radar Festival 2017), and A Ride On The Irish Cream (American Realness Festival 2016), have toured nationally and internationally. Their newest work-in-development, Little Surfer, is a NY Voices Commission at the Public Theater. As an actor, Markey appeared as Wendy in Leonard Bernstein’s Peter Pan at The Fisher Center as part of Bard Summerscape (2018), Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme in Assassins at New York City Center Encores! (2017), Markey is a company member of Obie Award-winning Half Straddle (2009-present). They recently appeared in Dr. Ride’s American Beach House (Ars Nova 2019), which was a New York Times Critics Pick. TV appearances include HBO’s High Maintenance (2019) and TruTV’s At Home with Amy Sedaris (2019).
April Matthis At the Fisher Center at Bard: Scaffold Room (Ralph Lemon). Off-Broadway: Toni Stone (Roundabout/OBIE Award for Performance); Fairview, LEAR (Soho Rep); Signature Plays—Funnyhouse of a Negro (Signature Theatre); IOWA, Antlia Pneumatica (Playwrights Horizons); On the Levee (LCT3). With Elevator Repair Service: The Sound & the Fury; Fondly, Collette Richland (NYTW); Measure for Measure (The Public Theatre); Everyone’s Fine with Virginia Woolf (Abrons Art Center); Gatz (Perth Festival). Regional: Little Bunny Foo Foo (Actors Theater of Louisville), A Streetcar Named Desire (Yale Rep). TV: “Instinct” (CBS), “New Amsterdam” (NBC), “Evil”, “The Good Fight” (CBS/Paramount +). Film: Black Card (HBO, Showtime), November (The Shed, dir., Phillip Youmans), Fugitive Dreams (FantasiaFest). OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance.
Mallory Portnoy was most recently seen on Broadway as Gertie Cummings in Daniel Fish's Tony Award-winning revival of Oklahoma!. Other New York credits include Oklahoma! (St. Ann's Warehouse, Bard SummerScape), Privacy (The Public Theater in Association with The Donmar Warehouse), and A Midsummer Night's Dream (The Public Theater/Shakespeare in the Park). Regionally, Portnoy has appeared in productions at Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Chautauqua Theater Company. TV: Grace and Frankie (Netflix), The Helpsters (Apple TV). Portnoy is co-creator of the comedy series Human Interest (winner of Best Digital Short Series at Series Fest) and Roger, The Chicken (LA Comedy Film Festival, Friars Club Comedy Film Festival). Training: University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign, Juilliard.
Mary Testa is the recipient of the Legend of Off-Broadway Award, three Tony Award nominations, two Lucille Lortel Award nominations, six Drama Desk Award nominations, two Drama League Award nominations, two Outer Critics Circle Award nominations, an Obie Award, and a special Drama Desk Award celebrating Queen of the Mist and “Three Decades of Outstanding Work.” Testa’s Broadway credits include Oklahoma!, Wicked, Guys and Dolls, Xanadu, Chicago, 42nd St, Marie Christine, On the Town, Forum, and more. Opera: Anna Nicole at BAM. Off-Broadway: Oklahoma!, The Portuguese Kid, The Government Inspector, First Daughter Suite, Caucasian Chalk Circle, Queen of the Mist, Love Loss.., A New Brain, and See What I Wanna See, among others. Film: The Mother (short; 3 Best Actress Awards), Big Stone Gap, Eat Pray Love, The Bounty Hunter, more. Television: The Good Fight, Divorce, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Bull, SMILF, Two Broke Girls, Difficult People, and Whoopi. Testa is featured on fourteen original cast albums. Her album with Michael Starobin, Have Faith, is now available.
About the Creative Team
Daniel Fish is a New York-based director who makes work across the boundaries of theater, film, and opera. He draws on a broad range of forms and subject matter including plays, film scripts, contemporary fiction, essays and found audio. His 2015 Bard SummerScape production of Oklahoma! transferred to Broadway from St. Ann’s Warehouse in 2019 and won the Tony Award for Best Musical Revival. Other recent work includes White Noise, inspired by the novel by Don DeLillo (Ruhrfestspiele Recklingshausen, Theater Freiburg, and Skirball NYU), Michael Gordon’s opera, Acquanetta (Prototype Festival)/Bard SummerScape), Don’t Look Back (The Chocolate Factory), Who Left This Fork Here (Baryshnikov Arts Center, Onassis Center), Ted Hearne’s The Source (BAM NEXT WAVE, L.A Opera, San Francisco Opera), and ETERNAL, a video installation. His work has been seen at theaters and festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe including, The Walker Arts Center, PuSH, Teatro Nacional D. Maria, Lisbon/Estoril Film Festival, Vooruit, Festival TransAmériques, Noorderzon Festival, The Chocolate Factory, The Public Theater’s Under The Radar, Opera Philadelphia/Curtis Opera Theater, American Repertory Theater, Richard B. Fisher Center at Bard College, Yale Repertory Theater, McCarter Theater, Signature Theater, The Shakespeare Theater Company, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, Staatstheater Braunschweig, and The Royal Shakespeare Company. Residencies and commissions include The MacDowell Colony, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Mass MOCA, The Chocolate Factory, The Bushwick Starr, LMCC/ Governors Island. He is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Department of Performance Studies and is the recipient of the 2017 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts for the Theater.
Daniel Kluger is a composer whose experience as an arranger, music producer, and sound designer uniquely informs his success at creating music for theater and film. He earned a 2019 Tony nomination, 2020 Grammy nomination, Drama Desk Award, and Outer Critics Circle Award for his work on Daniel Fish’s visionary Broadway revival of Oklahoma!. As music producer, arranger and orchestrator, Kluger re-conceived the score for a seven piece bluegrass band, simultaneously giving it a more contemporary sound while also evoking the world of territory-era Oklahoma, without changing a note of the music. Kluger’s scoring work echoes the neoclassical style of contemporary composers like Nico Muhly, Jóhann Jóhannsson and Hildur Guðnadóttir. He produces scores for some of the most innovative theater directors, including Daniel Fish, Anne Kauffman, Sam Gold, David Cromer, Trip Cullman, Gaye Taylor Upchurch, Giovanna Sardelli, Oliver Butler, Arin Arbus and more. Most recently at the Park Avenue Armory Kluger created an original score for Ödön von Horváth’s Judgment Day, directed by Richard Jones. Recent Broadway work includes the world premiere of The Sound Inside, the revival of Marvin’s Room, and the world premiere of Significant Other.
Nathan Koci is a performer, conductor and composer across multiple media including folk music, contemporary classical music, dance, and experimental theater. He most recently served as the Music Director and Vocal Arranger for the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Oklahoma!. As a music director, he has worked with directors and artists such as Rachel Chavkin, Daniel Fish, Jim Findlay, Daniel Kluger, Anais Mitchell, Molly Smith and Alice Reagan. As a performer, he has premiered new works by Timo Andres, Anthony Braxton, Ted Hearne, John Heginbotham, Maria Kalman, William Kentridge, Guy Klucevsek, and Stew and Heidi, among others, working with ensembles including Dance Heginbotham, Alarm Will Sound, The Knights, Ensemble Modern, Bang on a Can, the Tri-Centric Orchestra, the Michael Leonhart Orchestra, and Wordless Music. He performs and records on horns, accordions, pianos, and banjos with groups including The Hands Free, The Opposite of a Train, and Shovels and Rope and teaches improvisation and arts engagement at The New School College of Performing Arts in NYC. www.NathanKoci.com
About the Fisher Center at Bard
The Fisher Center develops, produces, and presents performing arts across disciplines through new productions and context-rich programs that challenge and inspire. As a premier professional performing arts center and a hub for research and education, the Fisher Center supports artists, students, and audiences in the development and examination of artistic ideas, offering perspectives from the past and present, as well as visions of the future. The Fisher Center demonstrates Bard’s commitment to the performing arts as a cultural and educational necessity. Home is the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Frank Gehry and located on the campus of Bard College in New York’s Hudson Valley. The Fisher Center offers outstanding programs to many communities, including the students and faculty of Bard College, and audiences in the Hudson Valley, New York City, across the country, and around the world. Building on a 159-year history as a competitive and innovative undergraduate institution, Bard is committed to enriching culture, public life, and democratic discourse by training tomorrow’s thought leaders.
The Center presents more than 200 world-class events and welcomes 50,000 visitors each year. The Fisher Center supports artists at all stages of their careers and employs more than 300 professional artists annually. The Fisher Center is a powerful catalyst of art-making regionally, nationally, and worldwide. Every year it produces 8 to 10 major new works in various disciplines. Over the past five years, its commissioned productions have been seen in more than 100 communities around the world. During the 2018-19 season, six Fisher Center productions toured nationally and internationally. In 2019 the Fisher Center won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical for Daniel Fish’s production of Oklahoma! which began life in 2007 as an undergraduate production at Bard and was produced professionally in the Fisher Center’s SummerScape Festival in 2015 before transferring to New York City. In 2020 the Fisher Center launched UPSTREAMING, a new virtual stage aimed at broadening our commitment to reaching audiences far beyond the physical walls of our building, and developing new frontiers and technologies for artists to explore. fishercenter.bard.edu
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About Bard College
Founded in 1860, Bard College is a four-year residential college of the liberal arts and sciences located 90 miles north of New York City. With the addition of the Montgomery Place estate, Bard’s campus consists of nearly 1000 park-like acres in the Hudson River Valley. It offers bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, and bachelor of music degrees, with majors in nearly 40 academic programs; graduate degrees in 11 programs; nine early colleges; and numerous dual-degree programs nationally and internationally. Building on its 161-year history as a competitive and innovative undergraduate institution, Bard College has expanded its mission as a private institution acting in the public interest across the country and around the world to meet broader student needs and increase access to liberal education. The undergraduate program at our main campus in upstate New York has a reputation for scholarly excellence, a focus on the arts, and civic engagement. Bard is committed to enriching culture, public life, and democratic discourse by training tomorrow’s thought leaders. For more information about Bard College, visit bard.edu.
The 2021 SummerScape season is made possible in part through the generous support of Jeanne Donovan Fisher, the Martin and Toni Sosnoff Foundation, the Advisory Boards of the Fisher Center at Bard and Bard Music Festival, and Fisher Center and Bard Music Festival members, as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Commissioning and development support for The Stage at Montgomery Place provided by the Fisher Center’s Artistic Innovation Fund, with lead support from Rebecca Gold and S. Asher Gelman ‘06 through the March Forth Foundation.
Commissioning support for Most Happy in Concert orchestrations provided by Jenny Gersten.
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