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‘Happy Days’ takes audience back to the ’50s

Monica Dien
Staff Writer

Nostalgia and charm filled the room as “Happy Days,” the musical, made its debut at Tibbies Center Stage Theater in Fontana selling out every performance this season.

“The show is just fun and light hearted whether you grew up watching the television show or saw it in reruns as a kid,” said musical director Todd Vigiletti

“The musical brings the characters from the classic television show to life and you get a connection.”

The cast of the classic show was brought back to life on stage as the story followed the pending closure of Arnold’s Diner, the popular hangout in the series, as the old gang tried to raise enough awareness and money to save it from destruction.

The dinner theater show, according to Vigiletti, is a 90 minute rendition of a “Happy Days” television episode with music.

“The show has a lot of energy and color in it,” Cavon Black, theater server and actor, said.

“A lot of people in the cast have chemistry and you can see it in the performance.”

“Happy Days” went on a national tour but never made its way to the Broadway stage.

After it was shelved, Tibbies Theater decided to resurrect it and became the first theater to perform it locally with its quaint cast.

“You get to see a lot of the same people play different parts which is talent when you have to switch characters in the middle of the show,” Black said.

The shows leads, Johnny Fletcher and Jill Morrison, who portray Fonzi and Pinky Tuscadero are not only love interests in the show but a couple off stage.

Tuscadero left the national tour of Tony award winning show, “Memphis,” to do “Happy Days.”

“The gal playing Pinky was actually in the original national tour of ‘Happy Days’ and not only is she playing the lead in our production but she choreographed the show as well,” Vigiletti said.

Vigiletti’s wife, Jennifer Vigiletti, was in charge of costume design for the show.

Fashion of the ‘50s was showcased on stage with bouncy poodle skirts, cat eye framed glasses, saddle shoes, and the famous black leather jacket donned by the infamous Fonzi.

Garry Marshall, who wrote the television show also wrote the script for the musical.

“(The show) was so nostalgic because I used to watch the show when I was younger and it’s such a throwback,” said Kathy Dobson, resident of San Bernardino.

“The casting was perfect and there were loads of energy coming out of them.”

In addition to the show, guests were able to experience a dinner theater experience prior to the show with dessert and drinks during intermission.

“It’s not deep, it’s not heavy, it’s not cutting edge new theater,” Vigiletti said.

“It’s a classic old fashioned musical with great music and fun, quirky lines for all ages.”

“Happy Days” ended its run last weekend, but information on upcoming productions can be found at CenterStageFontana.com.

Monica Dien can be reached at monica.dien@laverne.edu.

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