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Review: Musical

Happy Days:

A New Musical

King's Theatre, Glasgow

Alison Kerr

For anyone growing up in Britain in the 1970s, the decade before video recorders and four TV channels, Happy Days was a staple of the television diet which provided an introduction to Americana, canned laughter - and sitcoms that really aren't funny at all. For most of us youngsters, there were only two reasons to tune in: the theme song and the eye candy. The new Happy Days musical, which opened in Glasgow on Monday, turned out to have similarly limited appeal - plus the added bonus of 1970s TV nostalgia.

Penned by Garry Marshall, who wrote the original Happy Days, as well as Mork And Mindy (and please don't let that one be resurrected in musical form), the show finds Arnold's Diner - the epicentre of smalltown life - on the brink of closure, as the site is being eyeballed by a construction company. Cue a variation on the old "let's put on a show" scenario as the locals join forces to save the diner.

Needless to say, the plot matters not one jot in Happy Days. What matters is the music - Paul Williams's catchy if forgettable songs reflect all sorts of 1950s pop - and the feelgood factor which stems both from the lively performances by a dynamic young cast and the fact that they vividly recall the original characters, notably James Paterson and Cheryl Baker as Mr and Mrs Cunningham.

Vocally and in terms of presence, Sugababe Heidi Range stands out as Pinky Tuscadero, a sort of Mae West in pedal-pushers.

As for The Fonz? Well, Ben Freeman does a good job but, let's face, it there is only one Fonzie. Correctamundo?

Runs ends Saturday.

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