National Tour of Happy Days Revs Up for Oct. 31 Debut; Sorge Is Fonzie

News   National Tour of Happy Days Revs Up for Oct. 31 Debut; Sorge Is Fonzie
Goodbye gray skies, hello blue. Happy Days – A New Musical, a song-filled stage adaptation of the hit TV series about Milwaukee friends in the 1950s, begins its national tour Oct. 31 in California.
Joey Sorge as Fonzie.
Joey Sorge as Fonzie. Photo by Diane Sobolewski

New songs by hit composer-lyricist Paul Williams punctuate the show, filled with free-wheeling teens named Richie, Potsie, Ralph and Fonzie and conformity-minded parents, the Cunninghams. Garry Marshall, who created the series, penned the libretto, which concerns the fate of the beloved neighborhood malt shop Arnold's.

The family-friendly musical comedy (seen in developmental productions in Los Angeles, Connecticut and New Jersey) will play through Nov. 16 at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in La Mirada, CA, and then embark on a multi-city tour. The production again stars Joey Sorge in the role of biker Fonzie. The local opening night is Nov. 1.

Wearing a leather jacket — and his hair slick with grease — Sorge, of Broadway's recent Follies and The Drowsy Chaperone, appeared in earlier productions of the Happy Days at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey (fall 2007) and Goodspeed Musicals' Norma Terris Theatre in Connecticut (spring 2008).

Book writer Marshall, composer-lyricist Williams and director Gordon Greenberg have continued to shape and rewrite Happy Days following those developmental engagements.

PS Classics released a world-premiere recording of the score using members of the 2007 Paper Mill company. Additional songs have since gone into the show. Here's how the producers characterize the show: "Goodbye gray skies, hello blue. Happy Days – A New Musical launches its national tour at La Mirada Theatre in October 2008. Based on the hit Paramount Pictures' television series, Happy Days reintroduces one of America's best-loved families, the Cunninghams, and the days of 1959 Milwaukee. This time capsule is complete with familiar friends: Richie, Potsie, Ralph Malph, Joanie and Chachi, Pinky Tuscadero and of course, the king of cool: Arthur 'The Fonz' Fonzarelli."

In the show, Arnold's, the famed drive-in malt shop, is in danger of demolition, "so the gang teams up to save it with a dance contest and TV-worthy wrestling match."

The cast of Happy Days – A New Musical also includes Cynthia Ferrer as Mrs. Cunningham, Matt Walker and Matt Merchant as the Malachi Brothers, John Massey as Mr. Cunningham, Steven Booth (Glory Days on Broadway) as Richie Cunningham, Michael Duval as Potsie, James Michael Lambert as Ralph, Felica Finley (The Wedding Singer on Broadway) as Pinky, Barry Pearl as Arnold, Chris Fore as Chachi, Whitney Bashor as Joanie, Molly Alverez as Lori Beth, plus Joseph Keane, Jaclyn Miller, Jill Morrison, Gabrielle Reid, Leah Sprecher and Jeff Sumner.

Happy Days on tour is produced by Bob Boyett, Nice Productions, Inc., McCoy Rigby Entertainment, CBS Corporation, Tom Miller and La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Music arrangement and music supervision are by John McDaniel. Choreography is by Michele Lynch.

Librettist Marshall created, wrote and produced television's "Happy Days," "Laverne and Shirley," "Mork & Mindy" and "The Odd Couple."

Academy Award-winning composer Williams penned famed songs recorded by The Carpenters ("We've Only Just Begun" and "Rainy Days and Mondays" among others) and Barbra Streisand ("Evergreen"), plus "The Theme to the Love Boat," "The Rainbow Connection" and more.

The creative team includes set designer Walt Spangler, lighting designer Jeff Croiter, costume designer David C. Woolard, sound designer Julie Ferrin and hair and wig designer Judi Lewin.

La Mirada performances will be 7:30 PM on Tuesday through Thursdays; 8 PM on Fridays; 2 PM and 8 PM on Saturdays; and 2 PM and 7 PM on Sundays. There will be no performances on Nov. 1 at 2 PM and Nov. 2 at 7 PM. Tickets are $40 and $48 and can be purchased at La Mirada Theatre's website,


The tour moves to Tempe, AZ, Nov. 18-23 and resumes Jan. 6, 2009, in Milwaukee, followed by Indianapolis, Providence, Toronto, Schenectady, Jacksonville, Naples, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Raleigh, Hershey, Melbourne, Huntsville, Nashville, Houston and Dallas.

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