Happy Days A New Musical at New Century Theatre

Photo Credit: Usnar Imagery

Photo Credit: Usnar Imagery

You could figure out time travel, pack the station wagon and take a trip down I-94 to visit Richie, Fonzie, Mr. C and the rest of the gang in Milwaukee. Or, you could take the easy route and just head to the New Century Theatre in Minneapolis to see Minneapolis Musical Theatre’s production of Happy Days A New Musical.

Based on the hit ABC sitcom from the 1970’s, Happy Days, we are transported back to 1959 as the gang tries to save their beloved Arnold’s from being turned into a parking lot and some place called a mall. That’s right, malls weren’t around yet. In order to raise money and outbid the developers, Arnold Delvecchio (Richard Choate) has planned a dance contest which will be guest judged by Fonzie’s (John Zeiler) love interest Pinky Tuscadero (Quinn Shadko). But that’s not all. Mr. Cunningham (Bill Marshall) and his fellow Leopard Lodge members (think the Elks or Lions club) have lined up a wrestling match between Fonzie and his just released from prison nemesis the Malachi Brothers (Kameron Nelson and Gregory Adam).

Though the main plot of the show is to save Arnold’s from developers, the heart of the show is the relationship between Fonzie and Pinky. As the king of cool Fonzie doesn’t want to reveal Pinky still holds his heart. While Pinky doesn’t want to let her image as the confident and tough girl slide when what she longs for is a white picket fence and family to call her own. As Pinky, Quinn Shadko shines. Her attitude, dialect and look are straight from the original character in the show. John Zeiler as Fonzie is reminiscent of a young Henry Winkler, right down to the famous comb move and signature “ayyy” expression.

As with most of Minneapolis Musical Theater’s productions, the set is sparse and props are kept to a minimum. But for this production that set design actually works. These characters are iconic and don’t need to be hidden behind elaborate set pieces and bulky props. The costumes, however left a lot to be desired. A lot of the ladies dresses appeared to be ill fitting. For the guys their clothing didn’t seem to period appropriate. They felt too modern and as though the actors were wearing their own clothes. While, Pinky’s clothing was much better and geared toward the unique style of the character, the sex appeal she is known for was missing.
The show is a great trip down memory lane full of references to many of our favorite moments in Happy Days history. With toe tapping songs, dancing and many laughs this is a great show for date night.
For more information on Happy Days A New Musical, visit Hennepin Theatre Trust’s website.
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