Happy Days The Musical, Lyceum
When ‘Arnolds’ the local diner is threatened with being taken over by big business Fonzie and the Happy Days gang do all in their power to raise money to save their favourite meeting place.
This new musical by the creator of Happy Days Garry Marshall with songs and music by Paul Williams is an attempt to recapture the wonderous charms of the long running tv series. Bringing the Fonz and the Cunninghams back to life, however, was always going to be a difficult task, such was the charm of the original and despite valiant efforts by the cast this really does have the ‘work in progress’ feel about it.
There are however some joys to behold in this production. Heidi Range as Pinky Tuscadero is excellent as the Fonz’s ex and largely sings well throughout the night. Ben Freeman too as ‘The Fonz’ has a great voice but his Fonz seems a little serious and could certainly do with turning on the charm and perhaps smiling more throughout. Cheryl Baker is a great casting choice as Marion Cunningham and fits the part perfectly as is Andrew Walden as Ralph Malph who provides many of the laughs on the night.
The songs are, however, largely forgettable and the storyline is flimsy, but this hardworking and professional cast manage to gloss over that until the final third when a badly directed wrestling match featuring the Fonz all but leaves this production floundering.
There are moments in this production when you get the sense of what might have been. Sadly there are many more that remind you of how good the original was and how much charm it had. A feeling sadly lacking in what feels like a musical by the numbers that won’t quite satisfy anyone, whether you’re a fan of the original or not.