The Worth Street Theater Company production, with DeLaria as the indomitable Winnie, will begin Feb. 1 at CSC’s East Village Theatre, 136 East 13th Street (between Third and Fourth Avenues). Opening is Feb. 15. Jeff Cohen will direct, David Greenspan (She Stoops to Comedy) will fill the nearly mute role of Winnie's husband Willie. The brash comedienne and cabaret singer has shown herself adept at musical comedy (On the Town) and comedy (The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told). Winnie is one of the most challenging dramatic roles in the canon of modern drama. Though a secondary character, Winnie's husband Willie has a few lines, Happy Days is basically a two-act monologue. Winnie begins the play buried waist-high in a mound of dirt, while chirping on about memories, small joys and the glorious gift that is life. By Act Two, the earth has climbed to her chin, though Winnie's spirits have flagged only slightly.
The role is typically attempted by established dramatic actresses late in their careers. Estelle Parsons, Charlotte Rae, Olympia Dukakis and Ruth Maleczech are some of the American actresses who have attempted it in recent years.
Along with Waiting for Godot, Endgame and Krapp's Last Tape, Happy Days is considered one of Beckett's four major dramatic works.
Happy Days is Worth Street's first production since its 2003 revival of The Normal Heart, a production that was a critical favorite, but a box office disappointment, ending its run earlier than expected at the Public Theater.