Finley, Etc. Set for 'Happy Days' Musical at Paper Mill

Paper Mill Playhouse has announced its mainstage production of Happy Days: A New Musical, based on the hit Paramount Pictures television series created by Garry Marshall who also wrote the book, with music and lyrics by Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe-winning Hall of Fame songwriter Paul Williams.  Directed by Paper Mill favorite Gordon Greenberg, Happy Days: A New Musical will run at the Millburn theatre from September 26, 2007 through October 28, 2007. Press Opening is Sunday, September 30th  at 7:30pm.

"Goodbye gray skies, hello blue! Happy days are here again with Richie, Potsie, Ralph Malph and the unforgettable king of cool Arthur 'The Fonz' Fonzarelli. Based on the hit Paramount Pictures' television series, Happy Days: A New Musical reintroduces one of America's best loved families, the Cunninghams, and the days of 1959 Milwaukee complete with varsity sweaters, hula hoops, and jukebox sock-hoppin'. The famed drive-in malt shop and number one hang-out, Arnold's, is in danger of demolition, so the gang teams up to save it with a dance contest and tv-worthy wrestling match against former Phister prison members Count Jacques and Jimbo, aka the infamous Malachi Brothers. Even the daredevil diva Pinky Tuscadero returns to help and reunite with her 'legend in leather,'" state press notes.

Joey Sorge, who has performed in numerous Broadway productions including The Drowsy Chaperone, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and as "Young Buddy" in Follies has been cast as The Fonz.  Richie Cunningham will be portrayed by Rory O'Malley, who recently made his Broadway debut in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and was featured in the film Dreamgirls.  Felicia Finley, Broadway's The Wedding Singer, The Life (April), Smokey Joe's Café, and off-Broadway in The Wild Party at MTC, plays the spirited Pinky Tuscadero.  Patrick Garner, playing Howard Cunningham, has performed on Broadway and off-Broadway in musicals such as Gypsy and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Playing the role of Marion is Cynthia Ferrer, who originated the role of "Kathy Selden" in the First National Tour of Singin' in the Rain.  Natalie Bradshaw, a seasoned regional theater performer makes her Paper Mill debut in the role of Joanie.  Ralph Malph will be played by Todd Buonopane who recently made his Broadway debut in the original company of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Christopher Ruth, a graduate of The Boston Conservatory and a recent featured soloist with the Boston Pops, will be playing Potsie. Eric Schneider will be playing Chachi. Schneider appeared in the off-Broadway production of Altar Boyz. Arnold will be played by Michael J. Farina who has appeared in the Broadway and National touring casts of Fiddler on the Roof, My Fair Lady, and Sunset Boulevard.

The members of the ensemble include: Julia Burrows (Lori Beth), Andrea Dora (Pinkette Lola), Lauren Parsons (Pinkette Sally), Tom Plotkin (Jumpy Malachi), and Andrew Varela (Count Malachi), who was last seen at Paper Mill as the "Pirate King" in Pirates!.

Happy Days will be directed by Gordon Greenberg, who directed Pirates! for Paper Mill last summer.  Greenberg's other credits include The Baker's Wife, O.Henry's Lover and  the off-Broadway revival of Jacques Brel... (Zipper Theatre).  Choreographer Michele Lynch most recently created the waltzes for the Tony Award-winning play The Coast of Utopia (Lincoln Center), and choreographed Jason Robert Brown's 13 (Mark Taper Forum).  Scenic design is by Walt Spangler, whose recent projects include Carol Burnett's Hollywood Arms, directed by Hal Prince; the acclaimed revival of Mame, starring Christine Baranski for the Kennedy Center and Twelfth Night in Central Park for NYSF.  Costumes will be designed by David C. Woolard. His work includes the costume designs for Paper Mill's Pirates!, The 60's Project, All Shook Up and Redhead. Lighting Design will be by Jeff Croiter whose previous designs for Paper Mill include Pirates! and The Baker's Wife. Paper Mill's resident sound designer Randy Hansen will once again join the Paper Mill team.

Emmy and Grammy award-winner John McDaniel is Music Supervisor. McDaniel returns to Paper Mill where he was Music Supervisor for last season's hit Pirates!. In addition to his work as Music Producer of "The Rosie O'Donnell Show", McDaniel has worked extensively both on Broadway, and regionally. The Music Director for Happy Days: A New Musical is Shawn Gough. Music and Lyrics are by Paul Williams. "We've Only Just Begun," "Rainy Days and Mondays," and "An Old Fashioned Love Song" are among Williams's many standards. 

The book for Happy Days: A New Musical is by Garry Marshall, who is a veteran producer, director and writer of film, television and theatre.  Mr. Marshall has created, written and produced some of television's most beloved situation comedies, including "Happy Days," "Laverne & Shirley," "Mork & Mindy," and "The Odd Couple."  His plays include Shelves, and The Roast, which he co-wrote with Jerry Belson (Winter Garden Theater). In addition, he co-wrote Wrong Turn at Lungfish with Lowell Ganz, which he then went on to direct in Los Angeles, Chicago, off-Broadway with George C. Scott, as well as at the Falcon Theatre starring Hector Elizondo.  He has directed 15 movies.  Among them are "Pretty Woman," "Beaches," and "Overboard." Mr. Marshall built the Falcon Theatre, located in Burbank, California, with his daughter, Kathleen, in 1997. 

Happy Days: A New Musical will play the following performance schedule: Wednesdays at 7:30PM, Thursdays at 2:00PM & 7:30PM, Fridays at 8:00PM, Saturdays at 2:00PM & 8:00PM and Sundays at 2:00PM & 7:30PM.  Single tickets are now on sale and range in price from $25 to $92.  Student rush tickets are $16.25 and are available the day of performance in person with current student ID. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973-376-4343, or at the Paper Mill Box Office on Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at  Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted.  This production was made possible in part by assistance from Robert Boyett Theatricals LLC.

Photo - Felicia Finley

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