Mayor to make cameo appearance in opera


 By Kurt Anthony Krug

Legal News
Dearborn Mayor John B. O’Reilly Jr. is looking forward to life beyond the political stage when he makes his operatic debut at the end of March in “The Most Happy Fella.”
“It should be fun,” says O’Reilly. “I have a very small role. I’m the priest where the wedding takes place. Hopefully, people won’t be scared away when enduring my singing.”
“The Most Happy Fella”—based on author Sidney Howard’s play “They Knew What They Wanted”—will be performed by the Friends of the Opera of Michigan (F.O.T.O.) at the Michael A. Guido Theatre, located at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center in Dearborn at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 30, and Saturday, March 31.
Frank Loesser wrote the book, music, and lyrics for “The Most Happy Fella,” which debuted on Broadway in 1956. The story revolves around Tony, an Italian middle-aged wine merchant, whose mail-order marriage proposal has been accepted by a much younger woman. To complicate matters is that the lady in question accepted this marriage proposal because she saw a photo of Tony’s handsome and much younger vineyard foreman, whom she believed to be Tony himself.
Presented through special arrangement with Music Theater International (MTI), “The Most Happy Fella” cast includes Quinto Milito as Tony; Katherine Kujala as Rosabella; John Hummel as Joe; Annie Klark as Cleo; Elizabeth Mitchell as Marie; and Steven Patterson as Herman. In addition to O’Reilly, internationally renowned tenor Carlos Tenor will also make a cameo.
“Quinto’s been working on getting a production (of ‘The Most Happy Fella’) in Dearborn for a long time. He was involved in a production in the 1970s. He wanted to do one with (the late Mayor Michael A. Guido),” says O’Reilly. “(This play is) just a lot of fun and hopefully people will give it a shot. It’s a great way to introduce young people to opera.”
O’Reilly is no stranger to the arts, having performed on stage in his youth. In fact, he has an associate degree in theater from the Academy of Dramatic Arts at Oakland University, an undergraduate degree in fine arts from the University of Detroit (now the University of Detroit Mercy), where he later earned a juris doctorate in law.
“I needed to start making a regular living,” O’Reilly says, laughing, with regard to pursuing his law degree. 
He was president of the Dearborn City Council for 17 years—all five of his terms, winning the highest number of votes in each election since he first ran in 1989. He was Dearborn’s mayor pro tem in 2006 and was elected mayor in 2007, winning a special election following Guido’s death in 2006. Serving as the mayor of Dearborn is a family tradition for him; his father, John B. O’Reilly Sr., was mayor from 1978-85.
“The real talent will be on stage from the Detroit area. It’ll be a lot of fun. We have some really good local talent. This is something people can enjoy—it’s not heavy. You’ll understand it. It’ll be fun and funny—a great way for people to have a good time,” says O’Reilly.
Ticket prices are $24 and $29 and can be purchased at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center Box Office, located at 15801 Michigan Avenue in Dearborn between 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday through Thursday. For phone orders, call (313) 943-2354 or go online to (
If tickets are purchased at Henry Ford Community College (HFCC), $10 of the cost will be donated to the HFCC Foundation to help HFCC students. To purchase tickets at HFCC, stop by the Office of Development or the Office of the President, located on the third and fourth floors—respectively—of the Andrew A. Mazzara Administrative Services & Conference Center, both of which are located on HFCC’s main campus in Dearborn. Also, those interested in purchasing tickets can call the Office of Development at (313) 845-9620 and tickets will be mailed to them. Checks should be made out to the F.O.T.O. with the HFCC Foundation receiving its portion directly from that organization.
“The college is very happy that the F.O.T.O. has selected us to receive a portion of the proceeds. Our hope is that the community supports this event, resulting in significant charitable support to the (HFCC),” says John J. Lewandowski, executive director of the HFCC Foundation.