Toby’s Dinner Theatre Happy Days: The New MusicalBy Betsy Marks Delaney • Mar 24th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Toby’s Dinner Theatre
Toby’s Dinner Theater-Columbia, Columbia, MD
Through June 12th
2:05, with one intermission
Reviewed March 18th, 2011
Happy Days (the television show) was one of the best-known TV sitcoms of the ’70s and ’80s, reaching #1 in its fourth season and staying in the top five for three years. The series was one of the first to be shown during daily reruns and was on every day during my junior high years.
For the uninitiated, the series centered mainly on the Cunningham family of Milwaukee, including Howard (Shawn Kettering, playing the dual roles of Plumbing store owner and the show’s co-director), Marion (Esther Covington, wryly funny as she points out the humorous differences between late ’50s suburbia and our modern society), and their children Richie (Jamie Boyle, red-headed narrator of this nostalgic trip down memory lane) and Joanie (Amy Sonntag, a bundle of energy and feisty younger sister), together with the denizens of Arnold’s Malt Shop and (most importantly) Arthur “The Fonz/Fonzie” Fonzarelli (Greg Twomey, with a hauntingly familiar resemblance to Henry Winkler’s voice), a James Dean-esque motorcycle-riding mechanic with a talent for commanding even inanimate object to bow to his will, and who defined the word “cool” for a generation of fans, and made “Ayyyy” and “Whoa” household words.
Happy Days: The New Musical, written by the TV series’ creator, Garry Marshall, proves to be a tongue-in-cheek homage to this once popular show. With catchy tunes by Paul Williams (Bugsy Malone, The Muppet Movie and Phantom of the Paradise among others), the musical, originally directed and produced by Marshall, debuted quite appropriately in Burbank, CA, before a live studio audience. Although it never made a debut on Broadway, the musical was subsequently produced by the Goodspeed Opera House and Papermill Playhouse, and had a two-year national tour in 2009-2010.
The plot centers on Arnold’s, the local diner, which is being threatened with demolition by a local developer who has sold the property to make way for a mall. Arnold (played by the ever-elastic, exceptionally talented David James) thinks his days at the fountain are numbered, but Fonzie swears he will stop the bulldozers, with help from the gang.
At Arnold’s, Ralph (Dan McQuay), Potsie (Dan Sonntag) and Chachi (Chris Rudy) rehearse as doo-wop group “The Dial Tones” for the end of year talent show. Together they hatch a plan to hold a dance contest to raise money. With Fonzie’s former sweetheart and all-around amazing boy-magnet, Pinky Tuscadero (Jessica Lauren Ball in a sassy, show-stopping change from her earlier song-bird appearances at Toby’s), just passing through town on her motorcycle tour, as the contest’s judge, they’re certain to rake in a mint!
Independently, the members of the Leopard Lodge, led by Howard, come up with their own plan: A wrestling match between the Malachi Brothers (Chad Fornwalt and Conrad Buck as the hissably inept bullies) and The Fonz.
The resulting mash-up of fundraisers gives ample time for our favorite characters to sing and dance their way through the plot, from swinging numbers like “The Pink’s Back in Town” and “Message in the Music” to a sweet duet between mother and daughter in “What I Dreamed Last Night” to some downright surreal fantasy numbers with Fonzie at the center (“Snap,” “Heartbeat” – which really captures Rudy’s impressive vocal range – “Aaaymless” and “Guys Like Us” in particular).
This is definitely not Pulitzer Prize-winning material (as with the TV series), but there’s plenty of fun and lots of exuberance from the cast. There are some funny in-jokes, too, for folks who know the series or the era and are paying attention.
The show reflects Toby’s gift for quality productions. Happy Days is directed and staged by Toby Orenstein and Shawn Kettering, with musical direction from Ross Scott Rawlings and fun fight choreography by Grey May. Janine Sunday’s excellent costume design, sets by David A. Hopkins and lighting by Lynn Joslin complete our trip back to 1959. Staging is fast paced and delays between changes simply non-existent, a spectacular feat for a musical without a show curtain.
Happy Days: The New Musical is definitely for the whole family and a great way to introduce a whole new generation to an icon of modern television history.
Based on the hit Paramount Pictures television series, Happy Days, A New Musical reintroduces, Potsie, Ralph Malph and the unforgettable ‘King of Cool'” Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli, and one of television’s most loved families – the Cunninghams: Howard, Marion, Richie, and Joanie. The famed drive-in malt shop and number one hangout, Arnold’s, is in danger of demolition, so the gang teams up to save it with a dance contest and a TV-worthy wrestling match. Even Pinky Tuscadero – Fonzie’s childhood sweetheart, returns to help and – lo and behold! – their old flame is rekindled. Happy Days, A New Musical, has a rockin’ and toe-tappin’ and finger snappin’ score from Oscar-winner Paul Williams (“Evergreen” from ‘The Way We Were’), and a funny book by the TV series’ original creator Garry Marshall. Return to the days of 1959 Milwaukee complete with varsity sweaters, hula hoops and jukebox sock-hoppin’ fun. This perfectly family friendly musical will have you rockin’ and rollin’ all week long! And now the joy of Happy Days will be introduced to the new generation, so bring the kids and grand kids and sit back and enjoy some of the wonderful memories we shared with The Cunninghams with them! ‘Goodbye gray skies, hello blue! Happy days are here again!’
Photos by Kirstine Christiansen.
- Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli: Greg Twomey
- Richie Cunningham: Jamie Boyle
- Pinky Tuscadero: Jessica Ball
- Howard Cunningham: Shawn Kettering
- Marion Cunningham: Esther Covington
- Joanie Cunningham: Amy Sonntag
- Charles “Chachi” Arcola: Chris Rudy
- Ralph Malph: Dan McQuay
- Warren “Potsie” Webber: Dan Sonntag
- Myron “Count” Malachi/Elvis/Leopard: Chad W. Fornwalt
- Jumpy Malachi/James Dean/Leopard: Conrad Buck
- Arnold Delvecchio: David James
- Lori Beth Allen: Arielle Gordon
- Pinkette Lola: Shayla Simmons
- Pinkette Tina: Ali Hoxie
- Principal, Leopard Manny Moon: Alan Hoffman Mark Cohen: Nick Lehan
- Ensemble: Frank Anthony, Elena Crall, Lance Hayes, Christine Nelson
- Swings: Matt Greenfield, Heather Marie Beck
- Chad W. Fornwalt (The Fonz), Chris Rudy (Richie Cunningham), Heather
- Marie Beck (Pinky Tuscadero/Pinkette Tina), Alan Hoffman (Howard
- Cunningham/Arnold/Count Malachi), Janine Sunday (Marion
- Cunningham/Pinkette Lola), Christine Nelson (Joanie Cunningham),
- Conrad Buck (Chachi), Matt Greenfield (Ralph/Potsie), Elena Crall
- (Lori Beth Allen)
- Conductor/Keyboard I: Ross Scott Rawlings or Reenie Codelka
- Keyboard II: Ann Prizzi or Ed Myers
- Reeds/Woodwinds: Charlene McDaniel, Katie Kellert, Steve Haaser or
- Stacey Antoine
- Trumpet: Tony Neenan
- Trombone: Jay Ellis, Jeff Harrington or Griz Gifford
- Drums/Percussion: Aaron Holmes, Anders Eliasson or Jack Loercher
- Directors I Staging: Toby Orenstein, Shawn Kettering
- Additional Staging: Tina DeSimone, Lawrence B. Munsey
- Fight Choreography: Greg May
- Musical Director: Ross Scott Rawlings
- Set Designer: David A. Hopkins
- Costume Designer: Janine Sunday
- Lighting Designer: Lynn Joslin
- Sound Designer: Drew Dedrick
- Motorcycle Team: Kate, Sam & Tony Wackerle
- Production Manager: Vickie S. Johnson
- Production Stage Manager: Kate Wackerle
- Stage Managers: Drew Dedrick, Kate Wackerle
- Technical Director: Jimmy Engelkemier
- Master Carpenter: Jason Krznarich
- Set Construction: Corey Brown, Jason Krznarich, Russell Sunday, Dylan Schmidt, Tim McCormack
- Properties & Set Dressing: Amy Kaplan
- Light Board Operators: Cheryl Hale, Coleen M. Foley, Erin MacDonald
- Sound Operators: Drew Dedrick, Corey Brown
- Stage Crew: Erin MacDonald, Ashley Grant, Nicole Smith, Jason Britt
- Artistic Director: Toby Orenstein
- Associate Artistic Directors: David A. Hopkins, Lawrence B. Munsey
- General Manager: Joel Friedman
- Assistant Manager: Patrick Albright
- Form Manager: Steve Lewis
- Chef / Kitchen Manager: Chuck Cofield
- Chef / Assistant Kitchen Manager: Anthony Beachum
- Director of Group Sales / Tour and Travel: Cheryl Clemens
- Assistant Director of Group Sales / Tour and Travel: Audrey Kyle
- Group Sales Hosting Staff: Heidi Berry, Bonnie Ciborowski, Danny Ciborowski, Paula Jones, Marsha Raymond
- Director of Marketing: Nancy Michel
- Box Office Manager: Judy Abrams
- Box Office Staff: Heidi Berry, Judy Berry, Laura Blasi, Mary Dempsey, Lynae Harris, Breena Hebron, Estelle King, Marie Moineau
- Bookkeeper: Bayna Castner
- Youth Theatre Administrator: Toba Barth
- Theatre Photographer / Website Developer: Kirstine Christiansen
- Bar Manager: Shawn Kettering
- Maintenance Engineers: Stephen B. Harris, Mike Monahan
Disclaimer: Toby’s Dinner Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/6329.
Betsy Marks Delaney is founder and Artistic Director of OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company (O2B2) and General Manager of the Greenbelt Arts Center. Since 2006 Betsy has worked as a director, producer, designer and more. Betsy has also worked with Washington Revels, Arena Stage, the now-defunct Harlequin Dinner Theatre and with community theatre companies both in Maryland and in upstate New York. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Technical Theatre from SUNY New Paltz. Through Hawkeswood Productions, Betsy produces archival performance videos and YouTube highlight spots.