Theatre Review: ‘Happy Days – A New Musical’ at Westchester Broadway Theatre

Published: Monday, May 16, 2016 By: Lori Speiser Source: NY Theatre Guide

Happy Days – A New Musical is currently playing at the Westchester Broadway Theatre. Garry Marshal wrote the book for the musical based upon his very popular television sitcom from the seventies.  All new songs were written by Paul Williams to follow the story line with the exception of the use of the Happy Days theme.  The show had its debut in 2007 in Connecticut and received mixed reviews.  The musical did not go to Broadway, but went directly onto a First National Tour.

"Portraying such beloved and well-known characters is a daunting task. . .the actors did a good job. . ."

The main story line carrying the play is the need to save Arnold’s Malt Shop. A construction company has plans to build a mall on the location and a lot of money will be needed to rescue the favorite meeting place. Fonzie and gang start planning fund-raising events which include a dance contest and a wrestling match. Pinky Tuscadero (Fonzie’s old girlfriend) comes back to town to help, which sets off the secondary story line of whether love lost can be rekindled, and is complemented by a third story line between the young Joanie and Chachi wondering if love has been found

 

All of the main characters, known and loved for a decade on the television show are present, but a few are more background characters while some minor characters from the show are given a stronger presence. For example, the Malachi brothers are brought in as the wrestling opponents, and they are painfully silly.

While the dance contest was a highlight of the play, many of the musical numbers throughout the show were overshadowed by the volume of the music, which made it difficult to hear the actors’ voices and to make out the words. At the end of the song “ ‘Aaay’mless” as the music died down, Maria Logan’s beautiful and clear voice could finally be heard, making me wish to have heard it better in her other songs.

Richie (Herb Porter), Potsie (Michael Linden), Schyler Conaway (Ralph) and Chachi (Mike D’Amico) formed the group “The Dial-Tones” singing in harmony together a number of times.  Michael Linden delivered a wonderful voice in “The Thing About Girls.” I would have enjoyed seeing more of him as his role was small.

Mia Weinberger as Joanie was a bundle of energy.  Mike D’Amico was also fun to watch and did a great job as Chachi.  Nick Varricchio as Fonzie was both cool and full of angst at the appropriate moments.

Portraying such beloved and well-known characters is a daunting task.  The actors did a good job, but at the end you still long for the originals.

Running Time: 2 hours with one 30 minute intermission.