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Saturday, 19 April 2014

Review: Happy Days at Sunderland Empire



Jumping The Shark?



Happy Days – A New Musical

Sunderland Empire

Until 19th April 2014
  
Book: Garry Marshall
Music & Lyircs: Paul Williams
Director & Choreography: Garry Marshall
Musical Supervisor: Greg Arrowsmith

Not many productions are a feature of a Channel 4 series and one expects that a number of those who see Happy Days will have done so as a result of “The Sound of Musicals” earlier in the year. Amy Anzel had overcome adversity and had signed the original Fonz Henry Winkler as a creative consultant. Since then Bucks Fizz star Cheryl Baker had jumped onboard to play Marion Cunningham and former Sugababe Heidi Range as Pinky Tuscadero.


Much of this cheery uplifting musical is set in “Arnolds”, the diner, which is under threat from redevelopment. The plot starts with the owner Arnold Delvecchio (Ray Gardner) informing the Fonz (Ben Freeman) and his young band who idolize him.  Local hardware store owner Howard Cunningham and his local freemason-esque group, The Leopard Lodge,  decides to raise the funds to fight this plan.


The story then steered through a fund raising dance at the diner and a televised picnic and wrestling match with a background of inspirative musical numbers and tight dance routines. The musicians skilfully played as the youthful cast worked professionally through these entertaining routines showing off their colourful costumes.  There are even a few nods to Cheryl Baker’s past.


The story is a light-hearted take on a vision of 1959 that may not have existed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The cast are full of energy and performed the show with great enthusiasm. 


The book seems to run out of script, and this is a shame, so the show finishes with a couple of musical numbers during which the audience are encouraged to dance along. Musicals are not easy to write or perform in. Some don’t make it as massive successes. As Ken Mandelbaum once said “Not since Carrie”…



Twitter: @HappyDaysUKTour

Photos: Paul Coltas


Remaining Tour Dates:

MONDAY 14 – SATURDAY 19 APRIL
SUNDERLAND, EMPIRE
0844 871 3022

TUESDAY 22 – SATURDAY 26 APRIL
BIRMINGHAM, HIPPODROME
0844 338 5000

TUESDAY 29 APRIL – SATURDAY 3
MAY
CARDIFF, NEW THEATRE
CF10 3LN

MONDAY 5 – SATURDAY 10
MAY
ABERDEEN, HIS MAJESTY’S
01224 641122

MONDAY 12 – SATURDAY 17
MAY
EDINBURGH, KING’S THEATRE
0131 529 6000
 
MON 19 - SAT 34 MAY
DARTFORD, ORCHARD
01322 220000

TUESDAY 27 – SATURDAY 31
MAY
CANTERBURY, MARLOWE
01227 787787

MON 2 –
SAT 7 JUNE
PLYMOUTH, THEATRE ROYAL
01752 267222

MONDAY 9 – SATURDAY 14 JUNE
WOLVERHAMPTON, GRAND
01902 42 92 12

TUESDAY 17 – SATURDAY 21 JUNE
MILTON KEYNES THEATRE
0844 871 7652

MON 30 JUNE –
SAT 5 JULY
NOTTINGHAM, THEATRE ROYAL
0115 989 5555

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