Review: Happy Days: A New Musical, Theatre Royal Nottingham

Heidi Range in Happy Days
Heidi Range in Happy Days

Happy Days and its iconic character The Fonz have had a secure place in television history ever since they first hit our TV screens in the 1970s.

It is perhaps surprising therefore that these much-loved characters from the colourful rock n roll era have not come to the musical stage sooner.

The UK tour of Happy Days: A New Musical is righting this wrong, 40 years after we were first introduced to the Cunninghams and the rest of that now familiar, friendly gang.

The show’s line up boasts quite an impressive array of names with Cheryl Baker playing Mrs Cunningham, Sugababe Heidi Range as Pinky and former Emmerdale actor Ben Freeman as Fonzie.

The ingredients to make this a great show are all there but somehow it doesn’t quite produce the wow factor you might expect.

The stars all put in good performances and are particularly strong vocally.

Freeman is a good Fonz but has big shoes to fill and there is still a little room before the fit becomes perfect.

Range pouts and struts about convincingly as Pinky and Baker captures our sympathies as the bored housewife, complete with Buck’s Fizz references.

But the storyline - about the quest to save diner Arnold’s from demolition through a wrestling contest - is a bit weak even by musical standards, and apart from the well-known Happy Days theme, the songs do not make enough impact.

In a production that is full of fun, the highlight is undoubtedly the Leopards and their bizarre and amusing ways, which have to be seen to be believed!

Happy Days is on at the Theatre Royal Nottingham until Saturday.