The staging opened on Feb. 15 to a host of unflattering reviews, including a particularly negative one in the New York Times. Happy Days, which began previews Feb. 1, also starred David Greenspan. Jeff Cohen directed. It was to have played until March 13. Winnie—the part played by DeLaria—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.