‘Trip Down Memory Lane’

East Rock To Stage ‘Happy Days’

Posted: February 13, 2014

Cortland Morris (center), playing Arthur Fonzarelli, rehearses the opening scene with the rest of the cast of “Happy Days” on Feb. 11 at East Rockingham High School in Elkton. (Photo by Jason Lenhart / DN-R)
East Rockingham’s Kyle Nickel, playing Richie Cunningham, rehearses with the rest of the cast of “Happy Days” on Feb. 11. (Photo by Jason Lenhart / DN-R)
The cast of East Rockingham’s spring musical “Happy Days” warm up before rehearsal Feb. 11 in Elkton. (Photo by Jason Lenhart / DN-R)

East Rockingham High School Sophomore Kyle Nickel was skeptical when he first heard the plans for his school’s spring musical, but he’s since been sold on the idea.

Now, he confidently announces that his role as Richie Cunningham in “Happy Days — A New Musical” is his favorite so far. Nickel, 16, has already played three other lead roles.

“It’s funny; I get to show emotion with it,” he said of his current role while sitting on stage during one of the group’s last rehearsals. “It’s family-friendly. I love this show.”

His favorite song in the musical? The introductory tune, an upbeat chorus graced with lines from the namesake TV show, after which composer Paul Williams crafted the musical.

Though the story is set in 1959, the show’s musical counterpart was first staged less than a decade ago.

“It’s virtually brand new,” said Terri Butler, choral director for the high school. “No other school in this particular area has produced it.”

She and Kate McDonald, world languages teacher at East Rock, are directing the show, and the cast and crew are from band, choir, theater and other backgrounds.

“We open auditions to the entire student body,” said Butler, adding that auditions were held in November. Since then, the group has been perfecting the performance.  

The musical shows the efforts of the all-too-familiar characters — yes, including Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli — to save their favorite hang-out, the famed which is under threat of demolition.

“We just felt like this would be a show that this community would appreciate and flock in to see,” Butler said, explaining the decision to go with “Happy Days.”

For many, seeing the show will be “a trip down memory lane,” she added.

A 50s-style rock band, not an entire orchestra, will back the roughly 45-member cast and crew. To further emphasize the theme, parents will show off motorcycles outside the auditorium during certain showings and one will even be featured on stage during the performance.

Showings are scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 20-22 each night with a final performance at 3 p.m. Feb. 23. However, dates could move back a week depending on the weather.

Tickets are $5 for students and seniors; $10 for general admission and $12 for preferred admission. To purchase tickets, visit blogs.rockingham.k12.va.us.

Contact Candace Sipos at 574-6275 or csipos@dnronline.com.