After watching a Channel 4 show about musicals, I decided I’d quite like to see Happy Days. In the TV show, producer Amy Anzel was trying hard to get this pet project off the ground, and I found myself rooting for her over the course of the programme. When the tour came to Milton Keynes Theatre, I headed up from London one night to catch the show.
Having never seen the original Happy Days programme, I can’t compare it with this musical, but I found it to be an enjoyable piece of retro entertainment. The plot – involving a quest to save diner Arnold’s from demolition by means of a wrestling competition – is thin, but the songs are chirpy and catchy (with the famous TV theme tune making several appearances) and it’s hard not to warm to the production.
Former Emmerdale star Ben Freeman plays the Fonz, and I thought he performed well in the role. The standout performance for me, though, came from ex-Sugababe Heidi Range as Pinky. Though I was a Sugababes fan, I always thought Heidi had the weakest voice of the girls, but here she proves that her talent is strong enough to cut it as a musical theatre lead.
Cheryl Baker stars as Mrs Cunningham, and we get the inevitable nod to Buck’s Fizz in the middle of the show. My favourite moment, though, was when Fonzie was joined by Elvis Presley and James Dean in a routine – very surreal!
I wouldn’t add this to my list of favourite ever musicals, but it definitely makes for an entertaining evening.