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Happy Days (Brighton)

"Goodbye grey skies, hello blue…" – audiences are sure to leave the theatre smiling after a performance of Happy Days!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Adapted from the hit 1970s television series set in 1950s America, Happy Days – A New Musical brings to life the nostalgia, innocence and fashion of the original show.

Cheryl Baker, Ben Freeman & Heidi Range
© Hazeldine Coltas Limited

Written for the stage by the series creator Garry Marshall, this hit US and West End production manages to entertain young and old audience members alike, with its colourful set, simple yet heart-warming storyline and catchy ‘50s songs (including, of course, the infamous theme tune which you will leave the theatre humming for days).

The choreography is spotless and from start to finish the visual spectacular of movement is sleek and seemingly effortless. The cast are excellent, all with something about them to remind fans of the show of the original characters we knew and loved.

Cheryl Baker, who is whooped by audience members as she plays homage to her Bucks Fizz days of skirt removal, superbly portrays the sweet yet frustrated housewife Mrs Cunningham, Emmerdale's Ben Freeman takes the part of a (slightly taller but cool enough) Fonz, and the Sugababes' Heidi Range plays Pinky, the Fonz's love interest and bad girl, who really only wants to grow up to be just like Mrs Cunningham.

The musical's tour continues through the coming weeks and is sure to wow audiences – even though some of the younger generations may be unaware of the TV show and the reason for its popularity. I took my 11-year old daughter who had never heard of Happy Days and she is now a firm fan.

The set and costume design (both by Tom Rogers) compliment the cutesy plot which sees the characters fighting to save Arnold's Diner, the local burger bar which was always the focal point of the television show.

It is wonderfully acted and produced, having been worked on over the years by producer Amy Anzel, whose belief in the show's ongoing success has supported it through to this staging. Like with many musicals set in the same decade, such as Hairspray and Grease, there is something timeless about the ‘50s era.

So this show will appeal to those who lived through it and those who enjoy the legacy of its music and style, with some audience members during the Brighton run dressing in bomber jackets with their hair in quiffs!

Despite not being a sell-out show (leaving audience members free to dance and clap at the finale without injuring people close by) Happy Days will leave audiences feeling a child-like glow and a longing for life to really be that sweet.

The national tour of Happy Days continues until 5 July.