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Happy Days (Tour - Bristol Hippodrome)

Happy Days on tour, currently in Bristol, is an endearing trip down memory lane, enjoyable for fans of the TV series, but ultimately middle-of-the-road entertainment at best

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

© Paul Coltas

As the theme tune booms out, this new musical adaptation of the TV series Happy Days bursts onto the stage with panache, if nothing else.

This is certainly a trip down memory lane. All your favourite characters are here. From the lovely Marion Cunningham (Cheryl Baker), to the adorable Chachi (Eddie Myles) and Joanie (Emma Harrold). Ben Freeman may not match the ease and charisma of Henry Winkler, but he leads the show as the Fonz. What more could you want?

Less would be an appropriate answer. The musical tries to cram in every character from the sitcom. Around the "save Arnold's canteen" story are dozens of half-baked plot threads. Many could be cut out so that the musical focuses on the Fonz's identity crisis, which at least is interesting.

Yet it cannot be denied that Happy Days has charm. Not only do you see your favourite characters again, but you are treated to some energetic choreography, thanks to Andrew Wright's direction. Whilst the songs are not memorable, the ensemble numbers are entertaining and Heidi Range brings seductiveness to Pinky's songs.

The level of effort from the actors is apparent, which makes Happy Days endearing to watch. Other than that it is relying on the nostalgia for the TV series, and whilst fans will enjoy this, it is a middle-of-the-road production at best.

- David Jobson

Revised from Review at The Mayflower, Southampton

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