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Not like the good old days; REVIEW.

Byline: BRIAN DICK

Happy Days BIRMINGHAM HIPPODROME TRYING to recreate an iconic television series and re-cast one of the most famous roles in post-war American popular culture was always going to be a road riddled with potholes.

Low-brow, candy floss entertainment the TV show might have been but a glance at the careers of Ron Howard, Henry Winkler and Scott Baio after they left Happy Days reveals the chemistry that lasted a decade.

The Fonz propelled Winkler across the world - and vice versa, so any theatre company brave enough to try and recapture that magic has to be pretty sure of itself. Which is probably why Happy Days arrives in Birmingham stacked with names.

Sugababe Heidi Range is an effective leading lady, the fish who escaped Fonzie's net and small town Wisconsin to make something of herself.

Emmerdale's Ben Freeman does the necessary as Fonz and once you've accepted there's only one Winkler, his performance is convincing enough. And ex-pop, children's and current reality star Cheryl Baker not only brings her credentials to the production but probably outshines Range and Freeman with her delivery of the show's best lines.

The costumes and choreography fall into the no-brainer category and the set is simple yet effective.

But if we're being honest Paul Williams's score and lyrics never really leave first gear and certainly don't do justice to his reputation as an Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe winning songwriter.

Freeman, Range and Baker do everything they can to elevate the songs above the prosaic, which the latter two do with Emma Harrold as Joanie in What I Dreamed Last Night.

But it's not until they finally relent and let rip with a full blown rendition of Happy Days as the finale that anything sticks.

By then the tyranny that is audience participation and Freeman's exhortations to get up and dance fall on deaf - and in my case, disinterested - ears.

BRIAN DICK

CAPTION(S):

Cheryl Baker, Ben Freeman and Heidi Range head the cast of Happy Days
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Apr 24, 2014
Words:334
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