New Musical Happy Days, brightens the Bristol Hippodrome this week, with the enthusiasm of its cast and colourful Americana set.
The twee take on middle America, written for TV in 1974, transfers to stage reasonably well.
But, this production lacks any clout in its storyline and its upbeat musical numbers are highly forgettable.
Who the show is aimed at is a little curious. Is it the older fans of the original TV series? They will enjoy the nostalgic trip down memory lane, but, ultimately will find the lack of emotional depth and shallow characterisation a little wearing.
It seems more appropriate for teen girls, who would likely delight in the superficial ‘love’ story and well choreographed dancing, but who were completely absent from the audience.
Despite a cast who very strongly resembled their original TV counterparts, and performed their hearts out, the show needs much stronger input from the creatives.
There are potentially more interesting aspects of the storyline that are bogged down and missed. The Fonz, having a crisis and doing a runner was a missed opportunity to get a little deeper into his King of Cool character and find some interesting vulnerabilities.
The rather pointless attempt at giving the wonderful Cheryl Baker, as Marion Cunningham, a scene dreaming of having a little more control in her life is time wasted as this is a story all about the boys from start to finish.
Set designers should also avoid setting off the teeth itching of suffering pedants by keeping an eye on that disappearing apostrophe in Arnold’s through the show.
It was Henry Davis and Sam Robinson’s night though, as they gave the most fun and memorable performances as the delinquent Malachi brothers.
Ulitmately, Happy Days will never join the ranks of Hairspray or Grease, because it lacks the strong, sassy female characters that teenagers will be able to relate to.
It’s a bit of fluffy fun for the Happy Days fans, but for world weary grown-ups who like their musical theatre with a little misery and a song to cry over before the finale, Blood Brothers is just around the corner.
Running at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 08 March 2014