Review: Happy Days – A New Musical

Written by: Staff Writer

Churchill Theatre, Bromley

Not everyone is familiar with the plot of Happy Days or the iconic character, the Fonz.

But as a fan of the TV series, I found myself waiting eagerly to hear the timeless theme tune and seek out Arthur Fonzarelli

I wasn’t disappointed by either.

Ben Freeman in the Happy Days musical

It’s a real achievement when a troupe can delight the audience by bringing on-screen heroes and heroines to life before our eyes, while bringing a fresh feel to a tale that could be seen as dated – especially in this era of internet and reality TV.

We all long for a golden age and Happy Days brings it to us with all the brightness, laughter, colour and music we could wish for.

I was amazed by the sets, the stage direction and choreography.  The dance routines were fun and natural. The spontaneity of each routine was fluid and engaging. The cast entertained an incredibly diverse audience with apparently the greatest ease. The choreography blended well with the dynamic mid-scene set changes and stage transitions. The set designs were appropriately bold and bright, reflecting the bright optimistic smiles of the Happy Days cast.

For those of you keen to see the iconic show transformed for stage but without the loss of a warm feeling of nostalgia, you simply won’t be disappointed. Every catchphrase and nuance of the original television series of the 1970s is faithfully captured and enhanced.

Heidi Range as Pinky Tuscadero and Ben Freeman as the Fonz, have a strong onstage presence that does them credit. They take the characters of Pinky and the Fonz and make them their own while remaining true to the originals. Cheryl Baker adds a flash of colour to the Cunningham household as she plays off the quips and comments of James Paterson in the part of Howard Cunningham.

As the play enters its second half, the tempo picks up along with the dance routines and sense of melodrama. Scott Waugh (Ritchie) and Emma Harold (Joanie) come in to their own in the second part. Each has their turn at centre stage, but are at their best when acting and singing together.

Arnold is a favourite for many Happy Days fans, and Ray Gardner is wonderful as the diner owner. Much of the show is set in Arnold’s so keep an eye out for the smooth stage entrances and even dialogue transitions, as the cast swiftly switch between locales.

Without giving too much away, keep an eye out for the show’s villains, Henry Davis and Sam Robinson as the Malachi Brothers.  You’ll get quite a few heartfelt laughs from these two cartoonish characters. Their antics are comic and are bound to put a smile on even the sternest face.

Happy Days – A New Musical is a show not to be missed and full of potential to make it as a West End hit.

Author: Staff Writer

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