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Center Stage: ‘Happy Days’ musical is cheerful version of an era

By MARSHA WAGNER - | Jan 20, 2021

PHOTO PROVIDED Marsha Wagner

Choosing “Happy Days” — a new musical version of the 1970s TV sitcom — seemed like a great idea to chase the blues away, as the 208th production at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre; well maybe, but this cheerful version of the white-bread innocence of the ’50s is pleasant but “Not All That!” Or in the language of the ’50s not “Cool!”

The plot as penned by Garry Marshall, with the score written by Paul Williams, is typical of the 1950s — a mid-century paradise without even a hint of that era’s devastating problems, including a Cold War with Russia and its Communist satellites, fears of a nuclear annihilation, and Communist witch hunts that destroyed lives and careers. But like this show, yours truly tried to keep her “sunny side up” and focus on the positive and “eliminate the negative.” So, here goes!

As always, Amy Marie McCleary “saved the day” (or rather the evening) with her imaginative choreography and direction. She kept the show moving merrily along with her dance moves that went from wild and crazy Jitterbugs to cool rock ‘n’ rollers. McCleary’s dance moves, as well as her dance cast, were “Right On! Neat!” is my one-word review. The same could be said for the members of the principle cast and ensemble members who gave it their all every time they took center stage.

Another “stand out” is costume designer John P. White, whose crinolines, short shorts, black leather jackets, tight jeans and even kitchen aprons made real fashion statements about that particular time.

So, when all is “said and done,” “Happy Days” may not be a “knock-your-socks-off” kind of night out, but it is still a fun evening out; which counts “Big Time” in these trying times in this world.

Are ya’ll “ready to ride” on a wave of simply “remembering when?” If your answer is yes, then “Happy Days” is the show for you; in which case, “start your engines” by phoning the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater at 239 278-4422 for reservations. The show closes on Feb. 14. Remind ’em when you call that “Marsha sent you!”