If you’re too young to remember ’50s-set TV sitcom Happy Days, you probably don’t know what a massive, all-conquering cultural impact it had - and in the pre-internet ’70s, no less.
Every week, countless millions worldwide eagerly awaited the next whimsical adventure of Italian-American greaser Arthur Fonzarelli – The Fonz – and his pals Richie Cunningham, Potsie Webber and Ralph Malph, as they went about their business in Eisenhower-era Milwaukee.
Now, Happy Days is here again, in the form of a brand-new musical that claims TV’s original Fonz Henry Winkler as its creative consultant. Directed and choreographed by Olivier Award nominee Andrew Wright, Happy Days – A New Musical commences previews at the Churchill Theatre Bromley on Saturday 11 January 2014 before embarking on a national tour.
The show is written by Happy Days’ original creator Garry Marshall, who has also directed a slew of major hit movies including Pretty Woman, Beaches and The Princess Diaries 1 & 2.
It includes 21 original songs by Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe award-winning songwriter Paul Williams, whose credits include Bugsy Malone, Evergreen and Rainy Days and Mondays. The show also features the much-loved Happy Days theme tune from the TV show.
Ben Freeman will take on the role of The Fonz, alongside Cheryl Baker as Mrs Cunningham and Sugababe Heidi Range as Pinky Tuscadero.
Freeman is currently playing Fiyero in Wicked at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre. His other West End credits include Warner in Legally Blonde and Norman in Dreamboats and Petticoats. He's best known to TV audiences as Emmerdale’s Scott Windsor.
Formerly one quarter of ’80s pop champs Bucks Fizz, Cheryl Baker made her West End debut in the musical Footloose, going on to appear in Beauty and the Beast and Menopause The Musical.
Heidi Range is best known as the longest serving current member of multiplatinum selling girl group the Sugababes. Last year, Heidi took part in the ITV series Dancing on Ice, and its subsequent live UK tour.
The rest of the cast includes Lucy-Jane Adcock, Charlie Allen, Henry Davis, Ray Gardner, Emma Harrold, Grace Holdstock, Katie Monks, Eddie Myles, James Paterson, Edwin Ray, Sam Robinson, Andrew Waldron, Scott Waugh and Jason Winter.
The Happy Days musical features the Cunningham family and the rest of the gang – Potsie, Ralph Malph, Joanie and Chachi - battling to save their beloved diner Arnold’s from demolition. In a race against time, can The Fonz save the day?