Bristol Hippodrome


Happy Days March 2014


Happy Days a new musical opened at the Bristol Hippodrome this week to a mixed reception and a one-woman standing ovation at the end.

But it wasn’t me.

We were a party of four and while two loved it, I was one of the other two who declared diplomatically they were ‘undecided’.

I thought the show based on the 1950s US sitcom is dated and well past its sell-by-date.

But my daughter Madeline Middleton, a dispense optician at Portishead, and her primary school aged daughter Brooke loved the show.

Madeline said: “As a young child I watched Happy Days on the television and I thought the show worked and was very funny.”

To me it was definitely a rip-off of the glorious Grease with John Travolta mixed with a bit of the film storyline from the Cliff Richard film Wonderful to Be Young!

Only this time it was a diner not a youth club the cast were striving to save.In fact the diner and the folding stage set were among the best parts along with Cheryl Baker and James Paterson playing Mr and Mrs Cunningham.

The best bits were when Cheryl stood on the kitchen table and ripped her skirt off in a hilarious send-up of her Eurovision performance and the Triumph motorcycle which had a walk on part.But the James Dean and Elvis impersonators were cringe worthy and apart from the theme tune Happy Days the 23 original numbers are forgettable.

However, I need to add I have never been a fan of US ‘canned humour’ having lived on a military base in Germany at the end of the 50s and in the 70s while the rest of the world watched I would boast I never catch a single episode of the hit television series.

Madeline added: “James Paterson as Howard Cunningham was amazing and held the show together and I was surprised how good Cheryl Baker’s voice is as a lot of 80s pop stars are rubbish singing live but she was really good as Marion Cunningham.

“I really liked former Sugarbabe Heidi Range as love-interest Pinky Tuscadero.

“Her lovely voice has Joni Mitchell-style husky undertones.

“Unfortunately Ben Freeman as Arthur ‘The Fonz’ Fonzarelli didn’t do it for me, he was too clean, he needed to be dirtier, raunchier and sexier.

“The problem is he is too young for the part.”

Me - I like a more sophisticated script and happily my favourite show of all time is coming soon – Blood Brothers.

A decade ago producer Amy Anzel played one of the Pinkettes in the early acting workshops in the US and was so determined to bring the show to Britain she has sunk her life savings in the project.

And during her introduction to the show she urged the audience to like it – which made it even harder to write an unbiased review.

With the original Fonz Henry Winkler onboard as creative consultant this is its first UK national tour.

The blurb says ‘this brand new UK Tour based on the hit TV series features the unforgettable ‘King of Cool’ Arthur ‘The Fonz’ Fonzarelli.

Join your favourite 50s family, the Cunninghams and the rest of the gang – Potsie, Ralph Malph, Joanie and Chachi as they battle to save their beloved diner Arnold’s from demolition.

In a race against time, can everyone's favourite hero The Fonz save the day?

In 1981 as part of Bucks Fizz pop singer Ms Baker won the Eurovision song contest with Making Your Mind Up – and that’s all I can say.

For further booking information click HERE.


Carol Deacon