Paper Mill confirmed Aug. 21 Gordon Greenberg will again stage the Garry Marshall-Paul Williams musical, using members of the cast who are now playing through Sept. 2 at the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT. (A Goodspeed rep said there are only scattered tickets left for the largely sold-out run.)
Greenberg told Playbill.com, "Our time at Goodspeed has been enormously productive. We've been focusing, rewriting, and tightening — finding the right balance of humor and heart — and every change is easily tested in front of that evening's audience. It's a perfect laboratory for developing a new musical — and the audiences are wonderful."
Marshall is the creator and producer of the 1974-84 sitcom series "Happy Days," which inspired the new musical; Williams is the Grammy and Oscar-wining songwriter of "We've Only Just Begun," "Rainy and Days and Mondays" and other pop hits.
"Garry and Paul were around for the first week of previews and continue to send in changes as we need them," Greenberg said.
Will the show be different once it heads south to New Jersey? "The show will get larger at Paper Mill — the cast size increases, the band size increases, and, of course, the set increases," the director said. "We're looking at adding another song and a fun curtain call. We'll be expanding musical numbers and dance sequences — and continuing to refine the book. We're all very much looking forward to the next stage of development at the fantastic Paper Mill Playhouse."
The new musical is based on the hit Paramount Pictures TV series about a group of Milwaukee pals in the 1950s. Opening at Paper Mill is Sept. 30
The Paper Mill production was made possible in part by assistance from Robert Boyett Theatricals LLC. Expect Boyett to shepherd the show to its commercial future.
Here's how Paper Mill bills the show: "Goodbye gray skies, hello blue! Happy days are here again with Richie, Potsie, Ralph Malph and the unforgettable king of cool Arthur 'The Fonz' Fonzarelli. …Happy Days: A New Musical reintroduces one of America's best loved families, the Cunninghams, and the days of 1959 Milwaukee complete with varsity sweaters, hula hoops, and jukebox sock-hoppin'. The famed drive-in malt shop and number one hang-out, Arnold's, is in danger of demolition, so the gang teams up to save it with a dance contest and TV-worthy wrestling match against former Phister prison members Count Jacques and Jimbo, aka the infamous Malachi Brothers. Even the daredevil diva Pinky Tuscadero returns to help and reunite with her 'legend in leather.'"
The cast includes Joey Sorge as The Fonz, Rory O'Malley as Richie Cunningham, Felicia Finley as Pinky Tuscadero, Patrick Garner as Howard Cunningham, Cynthia Ferrer as Marion, Natalie Bradshaw as Joanie Cunningham, Todd Buonopane as Ralph Malph, Christopher Ruth as Potsie, Eric Schneider as Chachi, Michael J. Farina as Arnold.
The members of the ensemble include: Julia Burrows (Lori Beth), Andrea Dora (Pinkette Lola), Lauren Parsons (Pinkette Sally), Tom Plotkin (Jumpy Malachi) and Andrew Varela (Count Malachi), who was last seen at Paper Mill as the Pirate King in Pirates!
Greenberg, who directed Pirates! for Paper Mill last summer. Michele Lynch choreographs. The creative team includes scenic designer Walt Spangler, costume designer David C. Woolard, lighting designer Jeff Croiter and sound designer Randy Hansen.
Emmy and Grammy award-winner John McDaniel is music supervisor, as he was for Pirates! The music director for Happy Days: A New Musical is Shawn Gough.
Happy Days: A New Musical will play the following performance schedule Wednesdays at 7:30 PM, Thursdays at 2 PM & 7:30 Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM & 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM & 7:30 PM.
Single tickets are now on sale and range in price from $25 to $92.
Tickets may be purchased by calling (973) 376-4343, or at the Paper Mill box office on Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at www.papermill.org.