Happy Days at last for Amy

Scott Waugh as Richie Cunningham (left) in Happy Day
Scott Waugh as Richie Cunningham (left) in Happy Day

A musical producer whose struggle to get her show on stage was featured in a TV series is bringing the production to the Lyceum next week.

Amy Anzel’s bid to get Happy Days: A New Musical on to the British stage was portrayed on the Channel 4 documentary series, The Sound of Musicals.

The American was an actress and appeared on stage in the US in the musical version of the 1970s TV hit Happy Days as a Pinkette, one of the backing singers for the Fonz’s love interest, Pinky Tuscadero.

She developed her interest in producing when she married a Brit and moved here.

Amy said: “I was cast as a Pinkette in 2004. I loved the material and loved the show.

“I thought it had great potential.

“When I moved to London in 2009, I noticed that shows about America and the 1950s were doing really well in the West End.

“I contacted the show’s creator Garry Marshall and asked why is it that Happy Days is not in the West End and on tour in the UK? The British really seem to embrace 1950s Americana. I optioned the rights.

“Four years later, after lots of blood, sweat and tears and doors slamming in my face, here we are.”

Amy revealed she had less than happy days trying to work with Simply Come Dancing judge Craig Revell-Horwood as the original director of the show.

She was less than impressed that he wanted his name above the show. In the end he pulled out, to be replaced by first-time director Andrew Wright.

Amy said: “He had the passion I had. He didn’t have the celebrity feel like Craig.”

Speaking of celebrity feel, Happy Days helped to launch a lot of careers. Henry Winkler, who created the iconic role of the Fonz, is still recognised for it, 40 years on.

Ron Howard, who played Richie Cunningham, is these days a top Hollywood film director with a raft of hits to his name including Frost/Nixon, The Da Vinci Code, A Beautiful Mind and The Missing. Scott Baio, who played Chachi, co-starred with Dick Van Dyke in Diagnosis: Murder.

But probably the most famous face to be launched by the show was Robin Williams, who first appeared as a guest star in the role of visiting alien, Mork.

The successful spin-off show, Mork and Mindy, paved the way for his later film stardom.

The TV show creator Garry Marshall, who was at the opening, recalled Robin Williams won a standing ovation from the studio audience, which prompted TV executives to take a closer look at him.

Happy Days: A New Musical stars Emmerdale actor Ben Freeman as the Fonz, ex-Sugababe Heidi Range as Pinky and Buck’s Fizz singer Cheryl Baker as Mrs Cunningham.

And yes, Cheryl does get her skirt ripped off.

Happy Days: A New Musical is at the Lyceum next Monday to Saturday.