Theatre

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Happy Days the Musical

Lyceum

The best thing about this show, the latest in a never-ending parade of musical nostalgiafests at the Lyceum, are the American radio commercials played before it starts.

Personally speaking, my night was made when I heard the jingle which went ‘Bogey Brothers bake better bread.’

We certainly didn’t need producer Amy Anzel to come on before curtain up to tell us we could laugh and clap at this musical based on the TV series from the 70s and 80s. I didn’t do much of either.

Apart from the title song there is little in the way of a memorable tune, despite some spirited singing by ex-Sugababe Heidi Grange as Pinky, until just before the end, Dancing on the Moon.

And the dance routines were only average.

Ben Freeman makes a fair stab at being The Fonz but all you really need for this is slicked hair, a leather jacket and the ability to stick two thumbs up.

Sadly, thumbs down from me but if you were a fan of the series you might enjoy this – there were a fair few in the audience.

Martin Dawes

From Paris With Love

Grand theatre, leeds

Ahead of the Tour de France’s Grand Depart in Yorkshire this summer the county’s own opera company embarks on a new departure of its own with Paris as its destination.

This is Opera North’s highly-entertaining attempt to bring a bit of French romance to a wet English winter, and woo a few people who may not be brave enough to hop straight on to a Ring cycle.

The first half is a sequence of lollipops from operas set in the French capital, the second a collection of cafe songs that reek of Pernod and Gitanes.

Highly-trained opera singers do not always land happily when they make the leap across to popular music, but here it works well, especially when gutsy soprano Jeni Bern belts out Edith Piaf and baritone Geoffrey Dolton brings Jacques Brel to life. There’s a very Gallic on-stage band, and proceedings end at top speed with Opera North’s orchestra and female chorus moving into top gear for the Can-Can.

Philip Andrews