THE NEW ROSABELLA: Considering that Jo Sullivan stepped into the life of composer Frank Loesser as his Rosabella in The Most Happy Fella, it's natural and quite nice that their daughter, Emily Loesser, does the role for the most complete and definitive version that show has yet received -- an impressive three-CD set that Jay Records will release this autumn, replete with dialogue and songs that were dropped along the way.
"It was a challenge," Emily admits. "You can't just sing it -- you've got to act every word. I thought to myself, 'Once I've done this, everything else will seem easy.'" Happily, Mom was on the sidelines coaching, supervising, doing bonus tracks ("Somebody, Somewhere," which was supplanted by "Wanting To Be Wanted").
Emily's hubby, Don Stephenson, sang Herman for the recording, and the two are now together again aboard the good ship Titanic on Broadway -- well, not exactly together: He's in second class, the husband of Marla Schaffel, and she's one of the Kates (Mullins) in third class, so they don't have any scenes together. "But," she postscripts as upbeat as all get-out, "we get to eat dinner together, and we get to walk home together. That's something. You know, I was separated from him for a year doing Jeeves, so this is bliss."
Emily was 3 when her father passed away, so she has no idea what he would make of her career. "I hope he'd approve," she says, "but I'd probably do it anyway." Given her musical lineage, does it come easily for her? "Not at all. I take a lot of singing lessons. I find it hard, but I enjoy the challenge, and I love theatre work." Call it an early calling.
-- By Harry Haun