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Paul Sorvino Takes the Lead in The Most Happy Fella and the Sorvino Asthma Foundation

Having begun his career as a singer, actor Paul Sorvino relishes the musical complexity of his current stage production, the New York City Opera revival of Frank Loesser's modern operatic musical, The Most Happy Fella, which received six Tony nominations and was selected by the New York Drama Critics Circle as the best musical of the season when it premiered in 1956. Critics have hailed its lush score of arias, duets, canons, choral numbers, dances, instrumental interludes, parodies and folk hymns.

Sorvino has starred in over 100 films including Goodfellas, Nixon and Reds, as well as the TV series Law and Order. The seasoned actor projects a commanding presence, and he is in prime shape for the physical demands of The Most Happy Fella .

A blend of opera, operetta and musical comedy, the show is based on the play They Knew What They Wanted by Sidney Howard. It tells the story of Tony (Sorvino), an Italian-born winemaker who resides in California's Napa Valley and courts a pretty young waitress, Rosabella, through the mail--but, afraid of rejection, he encloses a photo of his younger and better-looking foreman Joe.

Joining Sorvino are Lisa Vroman (The Phantom of the Opera) as Rosabella, Ivan Jernandez as Joe, and Leah Hocking (Hairspray) as Cleo. The production is directed by Philip William McKinley and features choreography by Peggy Hickey, sets by Michael Anania, costumes by Ann Hould Ward and lighting by Robert Wietzel. It is scheduled to run through the end of March.

Seeing Sorvino perform now, it's hard to believe that early in his career he feared his stage days were over. In his 20s he waged a severe battle with asthma. Struggling through rehearsals for the Broadway musical Bajour, Sorvino was fortunate to meet two fellow actors who changed his life by showing him a yoga breathing technique. "My asthma was cured in one day," says Sorvino, who still uses the technique daily and has now been free of asthma symptoms for nearly 30 years. Eager to get the word out about this underused therapy, Sorvino wrote the 1985 bestselling book How to Become a Former Asthmatic. In 1993, he founded the Sorvino Asthma Foundation, which provides public education about asthma and aims to create a network of asthma centers for children and adults across the United States. With support from the New York City Department of Health Asthma Initiative, the foundation has created a video demonstrating for children the daily breathing exercises that can provide relief of asthma symptoms for many children and adults.

New York City Opera www.nycopera.com

Sorvino Asthma Foundation www.sorvinoasthmafound.org

Paul Sorvino Asthma Foundation

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