The East Coast premiere of the musical by songwriter Paul Williams and book writer Garry Marshall (who created and produced the TV series of the same name) will play Goodspeed's Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT — the troupe's developmental space, where critics are not invited — Aug. 9-Sept. 2.
This is the next step in the development of the 1950s-set show inspired by the TV sensation that aired in the 1970s and '80s. Happy Days focuses on biker Fonzie and suburbanites Howard and Marion Cunningham and their kids Joanie and Richie, and their Eisenhower-era pals in Milwaukee.
Sorge was Young Buddy in Roundabout's staging of Follies on Broadway and was part of the ensemble of The Drowsy Chaperone. Finley wowed audiences as the hard-rockin' ex-girlfriend Linda in Broadway's The Wedding Singer. In the stage musical, Fonzie's girl, Pinky, has a larger presence than she did in the TV series.
The Goodspeed cast will feature Rory O'Malley as Richie, Patrick Garner (Broadway's The Smell of the Kill, ...Forum, The Front Page) as Howard, Cynthia Ferrer as Marion, Natalie Bradshaw as Joanie, Todd Buonopane (…Spelling Bee) as Ralph, Christopher Ruth as Potsie, Michael J. Farina (In My Life) as drive-in restaurant owner Arnold, with Julia Burrows as Lori Beth, Andrea Dora (Tarzan) as Paula/Pinkette Lola, Lauren Parsons as Joy/Pinkette Sally, Tom Plotkin (Footloose, Seussical) as Jumpy Malachi, Eric Schneider as Chachi and Andrew Varela (Little Women, Les Miz) as Count Malachi.
(Ferrer and O'Malley are holdovers from an earlier Los Angeles staging of the show. The Goodspeed cast is a mix of Equity and non-Equity performers.) In the fall, Happy Days is expected to be the season opener at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, with commercial producer Bob Boyett attached to shepherd it to a wider future.
Goodspeed regular Gordon Greenberg (Pirates!) will direct; choreography is by Michele Lynch.
A commercial national tour is in the works for 2008, but not produced by Goodspeed, the Tony Award-honored resident theatre known for classic and new musicals.
Visit www.goodspeed.org for more information.
Previously, the musical — with music and lyrics by Paul Williams and libretto (and direction at the time) by the TV comedy's creator-producer Garry Marshall — had a run in Burbank, CA, in 2006.
The show has gone through revisions since its 2006 Los Angeles run at the Falcon Theatre, where pop singer Joey McIntyre played Arthur Fonzarelli, aka the Fonz.
At the Falcon, Happy Days (subtitled A Family Musical!) played two engagements in 2006 (Feb. 15-March 12 and June 23-Aug. 13).
It was billed as the "high flyin', sock hoppin' musical, based on the hit Paramount Pictures' television series" that ran 1974-84.
"It's May 1959 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Fonzie is still the king of cool at everyone's favorite malt shop, Arnold's," according to the earlier Falcon announcement. "The school year is coming to an end and the rest of the gang, including Richie, Lori Beth, Potsie and Ralph Malph, are getting ready to graduate from Jefferson High School."
The "musical celebration of nostalgia" also featured appearances by Pinky Tuscadero and the Malachi Brothers.
The earlier cast included Joseph Leo Bwarie, Cynthia Ferrer, Christine Lakin, Philip Lightstone Matt Merchant, Jaclyn Miller, DeQuina Moore, Rory O'Malley, Robert Petrarca, Anna A. White, Fred Applegate, Ryan Matthew, Jackie Seiden, Matt Walker and Jay Brian Winnick.
Academy, Grammy and Golden Globe Award-winning composer Williams has provided music for the films "Bugsy Malone," "A Star Is Born," "The Muppet Movie" and the theme to TV's "The Love Boat" Among his songs include "Evergreen," "We've Only Just Begun," "Rainy Days and Mondays," "Just An Old Fashioned Love Song" and "Rainbow Connection." As an actor, he has appeared in the films "Phantom of the Paradise," the "Smokey and the Bandit" trilogy, "The Doors," as well as on Broadway in Tru.
Marshall — a producer, director and writer of film, television and theatre — has directed the films "Pretty Woman," "Frankie & Johnny," "Beaches," "Overboard," "Runaway Bride" and "The Princess Diaries" movies. He is also known for his successful television shows including "Happy Days," "Laverne & Shirley," "The Odd Couple" and "Mork & Mindy." In 1997, he founded the Falcon Theatre. He is currently a judge of emerging movie directors on the TV competition series, "On the Lot."