published Thursday, July 25th, 2013

The Fonz, Richie and gang reunite for 'Happy Days' musical — July 26-28, Aug. 1-3

IF YOU GO

What: "Happy Days: A New Musical"

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 26-27; 2 p.m. Sunday, July 28; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 1-3

Where: Artistic Civic Theatre, 907 Gaston St., Dalton, Ga.

Admission: $15 adults, $13 seniors, $11 students

Phone: 706-278-4796

Website: www.actdalton.org

If the catchphrases "Heyyyyyy!" and "Whoa!" are part of your lexicon, "Happy Days" was probably must-see TV in your home back in the day.

The series, which ran from 1974 to 1984, has been off the air for nearly 30 years, but the characters of Arthur Fonzarelli, Richie Cunningham, Potsie, Joanie, Chachi and many others will come to life in a new stage show, "Happy Days: A New Musical," opening at the Artistic Civic Theatre in Dalton on Friday, July 26.

"Everyone of a certain age knows all these characters," says Tim Etheridge, managing director of the theater. "We're excited about it. I don't think people around our area have seen it."

Set in 1959 in Milwaukee, where the original series took place, the musical's plot revolves around the popular hangout, Arnold's, and its purchase by a conglomerate. When Arnold's regulars hear about plans to turn the joint into a mall and parking lot, they go into action and plan a fundraising dance contest.

Also central to the plot is The Fonz, the cool, leather-jacketed character played on the TV series by Henry Winkler, who doesn't want to have to move his office -- the men's room at Arnold's. To highlight Arnold's plight, it is suggested The Fonz have a wrestling match with his nemeses, the Malachi brothers.

Other than the television theme song -- which memorably begins "Goodbye gray skies, hello blue!" -- all the songs are new. But Etheridge says the musical numbers fit perfectly in the late 1950s doo-wop era. Some of them, he says, are intoned by The Dial Tones, the four-part harmony group Richie forms with Potsie, Ralph Malph and Chachi.

Garry Marshall, the creator of the series, itself a spin-off from a "Love American Style" episode, wrote the book for the original stage production. The music was written by Academy Award winner Paul Williams.

Etheridge says the cast of 24 ranges in age from 15 to 50 and includes actors from Dalton, Chatsworth, Chattanooga and surrounding areas.

His wife, Lori Etheridge, directs the show, and Andrew Chauncey of Chattanooga is musical director.

"We're having a good time," he says. "There's lots of dancing and singing. [The material] will be familiar to a lot of our core audience."

Contact Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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