Total Pageviews

Monday, May 12, 2008

"Happy Days - A New Musical" much like the sit-com at Goodspeed

EAST HADDAM - What you see is what you get at the Goodspeed Opera House’s production of "Happy Days - A New Musical."
The musical, written by Garry Marshall, with music and lyrics by Paul Williams, is much as one would expect, based on the successful television show by the same name. The theme song from the sitcom "Happy Days," which kicks off and closes the show, is the most memorable of the many perky tunes in the production.
All the characters you knew and loved from the original television show are there, including Richie (played Saturday night by David Larsen), Potsie, Ralph, Chachi, Joanie, Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham, Arnold and of course, what "Happy Days" show would be complete without the Fonz.
The story line was pretty weak, with just enough structure to support the real attractions to this show, which are the relationships these beloved characters have with each other, and the nostalgia factor for the audience.
Arnold’s diner in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is slated for demolition by developers, unless the town can raise money to save it from destruction. In comes Fonzie to save the day, and others pitch in to help.
As in the TV show, The Fonz was the pivotal character. Joey Soucy plays the role of Fonzie as if he were born to it, perfectly capturing the essential king of cool attitude.
Pinkie, his ex-girlfriend, comes back to town and sparks fly between the two, but it is clear they are meant to be together. Sandra DeNise plays Pinkie with an appealing Brooklyn accent, although why someone from Milwaukee speaks with a Brooklyn accent is never explained. Nevermind - DeNise’s Broadway-belting voice, which was strong and fine.
Besides, logic is not what this show is about - as the title suggests, this musical is all about happy days, not depressing nights.
The Dial-Tones, an A Cappella quartet made up of Richie, Potsie, Chachi, and Ralph singing "The Thing About Girls" was harmonic and pleasant, while the trio of Marion, Pinkie, and Joanie singing "What I dreamed Last Night (reprise)" was quite good. Savannah Wise plays Joanie Cunningham with lots of spunk and energy.
The show has everything one could wish for in a musical - plenty of athletic swing dancing, with choreography by Michele Lynch, some impressive tap dancing by Cynthia Ferrer as Marion Cunningham and ensemble, a bit of acting, and lots and lots of singing.
What show set in 1959 wouldn’t be complete without big poodle skirts? - David C. Woolard designed the colorful period costumes.
Even though the actor’s voices were amplified, the band, directed by Michael O’Flaherty, was a trifle loud at first, and ran over Richie, played by David Larson, who was filling in for Rory O’Malley Saturday night. But they settled down as the show progressed.
The sets, which change between Arnold’s diner, the Cunningham’s Bakelite yellow and blue kitchen, to the entrance of Fonzie’s apartment, and the garage he works at, are simple but effective, designed by Walt Spangler.
Perhaps this is the start of a new genre - nostalgic musicals based upon nostalgic television series. Maybe we can someday look forward to musicals about classic television shows such as "The Brady Bunch," "The Munsters," "Green Acres," "The Beverly Hillbillies," and "I Dream of Jeanie" to name just a few.
In the meantime, there’s "Happy Days - A New Musical" to enjoy at the Goodspeed Opera House through June 29.

Location: Goodspeed Opera House, Route 82, East Haddam
Production: Book by Garry Marshall. Music and lyrics by Paul Williams. Directed by Gordon Greenburg. Choreography by Michele Lynch. Music supervisor John McDaniel. Music director Michael O’Flaherty. Scenery design by Walt Spangler. Costume design by David C. Woolard. Lighting design by Jeff Croiter. Sound by Jay Hilton.
Running time: 2 ½ hours with one intermission
Show Times: Performances are Wednesdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. through June 29. There will be performances on select Thursdays at 2 p.m. and Sundays at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $26 - $63. Call the box office at 860-873-8668 or visit their Web site at
Joey Sorge ... Fonzie
Rory O’Malley ... Richie Cunningham
Sandra DeNise ... Pinky
Cynthia Ferrer ... Marion Cunningham
Kevin Carolan ... Howard Cunningham
Stanley Bahorek ... Ralph
Billy Harrigan Tighe ... Potsie
Savannah Wise ... Joanie Cunningham
Lannon Killea ... Chachi
Bob Amaral ... Arnold
Hanna-Liina Vosa ... Lori Beth

No comments: