Saturday, 18 January 2014

Review: Happy Days (UK Tour) at the Churchill Theatre Bromley - westendframe

Friday, 17 January 2014

Review: Happy Days (UK Tour) at the Churchill Theatre Bromley

Happy Days (UK Tour)
Churchill Theatre Bromley
Reviewed on Thursday 16th January 2014

Too often these days shows open in the West End that simply are not ready, they receive bad reviews, word of mouth becomes awful and then they close prematurely. However, instead of immediately opening in the West End, Happy Days, a new musical based on the American television sitcom created by Garry Marshall, has embarked on a six month UK tour. Whilst the musical's producer, Amy Anzel, has clearly stated her desire for a West End transfer, the creative team now have six months to ensure the show is as good as it could possibly be before any decisions regarding a transfer are made.
Happy Days is a bright and cheerful musical. Interestingly I have never seen the TV show, which aired between 1974 and 1984, but I honestly don't think that detracted from my enjoyment at all. Happy Days has all the necessary ingredients for a fun, feel-good show. 

Set in the 50's, the musical follows the Cunningham family (and their friends Potsie, Ralph Malph, Joanie and Chachi) as they battle to save their local diner Arnold’s. As the story is very light-hearted it is the big characters and full-out musical numbers which carry the show.

Happy Days is directed and choreographed by Andrew Wright whose choreography is astoundingly brilliant. Visually there is almost too much to take in as the choreography is so spectacular. The ensemble is fierce and on point at all times, executing the choreography exquisitely. 

Special mentions must go to Lucy-Jane Adcock and Jason Winter who stood out whilst performing some terrific lifts! Heidi Range, the longest serving member of The Sugababes, graces the stage with natural charm and stage presence as Pinky Tuscadero alongside Bucks Fizz star Cheryl Baker, who always brightens up the stage with her loveable personality as Marion Cunningham.

Happy Days is bursting with energy and with a speedy running time of two hours and fifteen minutes scenes don't drag, but they do dip. Obviously not every scene can be high energy but certain moments need to be sharper and move swiftly forward. Vocals aren’t yet consistent but there is not a single cast member who does not give their all. 

The score is great fun. Of course the Happy Days Theme is heavily featured and I don't think I have ever heard so many audience members humming/whistling/singing the same song during an interval. Happy Days is one of those musicals which demands the audience to jump to their feet for the finale, during which you are encouraged to take pictures and publish them on Twitter. 

I would happily see Happy Days again, in fact I'm already looking forward to catching the tour in a few months to see how it has developed. When a show opens in the West End it is lucky to have a month of previews, but Happy Days now has six times that to be fine-tuned and improved before it opens its doors to West End audiences (if it transfers). 

From what I understand Happy Days the TV show has been closely studied meaning fans of the programme, which famously starred Henry Winkler as The Fonz, will not be disappointed, but, as I mentioned, you don't have to be an avid fan of the sitcom to have a fun night out. The cast's energy is infectious and you can't help but leave the theatre with a spring in your step and a smile on your face.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Please visit for full tour schedule, further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Paul Coltas

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