Broadway Across America-Indianapolis; Clowes Memorial Hall; Jan. 13-18
Happy Days: A New Musical
proves what comes around on cable TV generates a whole new life for old sitcoms, hence the enthusiastic family-oriented crowd at Clowes, even on a school night. Just about everyone seemed familiar with Milwaukee, Wis., circa 1959, the Jefferson High School crowd jamming and jawing at Arnold's, their hangout, and the Cunningham family being "this is U.S." in their chrome-highlighted kitchen, white picket backyard, civic-centered Leopard Lodge, airy Phister Park and ultimately The Prom. In a plot turn-around, Fonzie takes center-stage with Richie in the role of narrator. We get drawn into "the big challenge": saving Arnold's from demolition by a corporation wanting the land. Spawning off the schemes to raise money to outbid the usurpers, a handful of personal and interpersonal problems are equally resolved and underscored with pithy "lessons" borrowed from a cross-section of Americana-isms. While there are a few lines to chortle over and a couple of surprising scenes (we won't spoil the fun of spotting them), there aren't any songs to hum on the way out, nor are the dance numbers memorable enough to talk about. More "Frosted Flakes" than "Rice Krispies," what the writing and overall production lacks in snap, crackle and pop, it makes up in being sweet and satisfying with performers and musicians clearly sharing a fun time with what they've got to work with.