Dax Valdes had been involved at Millbrook for several years and is back as director for HAPPY DAYS In the past we have seen him act and dance as well has heard him sing. He does all of these things exceptionally well, but his true talent has to be choreography and directing. Probably because dance is his strong point, his shows flow brilliantly. He deserves special applause for this production.
The characters from the long running television HAPPY DAYS have become so much a part of our culture that it would be hard for casting to satisfy an audience who grew up with Richie Cunningham and The Fonz. Nicholas Miller had the proper swagger to be Arthur Fonzarelli. Nicholas is tall, handsome, can act, sing and dance. He was perfect as The Fonz. The surprise standout number may have been “Guys Like Us” with James Dean and Elvis. I do have to admit that neither of these guys would pass as the real thing----but good try guys and you did sound terrific. Jake Evan was the typical boy next door, Richie Cunningham, if you are lucky enough to have a nice, good looking guy living next door who can also sing.
Who knew that Richie, Ralph, Potsie, and Chachi had a quartet that rocked. I could have spent an evening listening to these four guys. This was a big cast , but Michael Egan (Potsie), Richard Spitaletta (Ralph), and Ian Fairlee (Chachi) need to be mentioned individually. Not only does each have a great voice, but they kept their characters real.
Richard Guido’s Arnold helped to hold the story together. (The gang has to raise money so that their hang out will not be sold). Richard has been such a big part of Millbrook over recent years and is the company manager this season. It was good to see him on stage in a major role.
Actress Katrina Diehm typifies the reason that I go to Regional Theatre with great enthusiasm. I love seeing talent that can do it all and do it well. We last saw Katrina as The Good Witch, a good witch with a bit of an edge. In HAPPY DAYS she plays the motorcycle babe and The Fonz’s love interest, Pinky Tuscadera. Her voice filled the Main Stage as well as she filled out her short shorts. This is a name you might want to watch.
There was so much talent on stage and not enough space to give all their due. Tommy Lavalee, I could understand every word that you sang. The same can be said for for Jess Brooks. I am sorry that you will not be back this season. Ah, well, maybe next year.
If Artistic Director David Leidholt is responsible for the audience “warm ups” before the shows, it is working. HAPPY DAYS. will be on the Main Stage until July 6th.
Little Shop of Horrors will replace it on July 11th. Rounding Third will open in the Cabaret July 3rd. I would suggest calling for information on the availability of seats. It has been a very successful season. Box Office number is 570 748 8083.