Producer Amy Anzel has become a bit of a celebrity recently by appearing in the TV series The Sound of the Musicals, a documentary series about the making of Musical Theatre shows. Amy is producing the brand new musical Happy Days which starts previews on 11th January 2014 in Bromley. I sat down with Amy for a cup of tea and a chat about the show.
Can you tell me about yourself and your career highlights to date?
I am an American producer, presenter, and actress now living and working in London. I moved to the UK in 2009 after marrying my lovely Scottish husband. Although I love performing, I am loving producing even more! Producing the UK premiere of HAPPY DAYS – A NEW MUSICAL is undoubtedly my career highlight to date.
What is the show Happy Days about and how did putting the show on come about?
HAPPY DAYS – A NEW MUSICAL is a brand new musical based on the hit 1970s television series ‘Happy Days’. It features all of the characters from the television programme. In the show, Arnold’s, the famed drive-in malt shop and everyone’s favorite hangout, is about to be knocked down and turned into a parking lot and shopping center. So everyone in the town including the hometown hero, The Fonz, bands together and tries to save Arnold’s.
The show features 21 original songs by Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Globe winning Hall of Fame songwriter Paul Williams, who wrote the music and lyrics for Bugsy Malone in addition to many popular hits of the 70s including The Carpenter’s ‘We’ve Only Just Begun,’ ‘Rainy Days and Mondays’, the ‘Rainbow Connection,’ and ‘Evergreen’. The show also (of course!) features the ‘Happy Days’ theme song from the TV show.
My involvement with the show began when I was cast in the original developmental workshops back in 2004 and 2005 in Los Angeles when Garry Marshall, the creator of the TV show, was turning the TV show into a musical. After moving to the UK in 2009, I saw that 1950s Americana was doing very well in the West End with GREASE, JERSEY BOYS, and HAIRSPRAY, so I called Garry Marshall and asked if I could option the rights to bring HAPPY DAYS to the UK. Garry and his family have been extremely supportive in helping me bring the show to the UK and will be there on Press Night in Bromley to cheer us on and share in that very special moment.
If we asked your friends to describe you in three words, what would they be?
Optimistic, Persistent, Fun-Loving!
Happy Days the Musical has been put on using crowd-funding. For those who may not be familiar with this, what is it and how does it work?
We raised a portion of the capitalisation with crowd-funding, which is a platform that allows investors to invest anything from £10 upwards and when the show makes money, they make money. This is unlike Kickstarter and other incentive based campaigns as they don’t share the monetary profits with their investors. Rather, their ‘investors’ just get things like signed T-shirts, scripts, etc. instead of profits. We turned to crowd funding as we felt that there are so many HAPPY DAYS fans out there who would love to get involved in the production if they had the chance and viola – we found 345 of them, who we now consider not only investors, but ambassadors of the show.
With so many theatre shows failing these days, do you feel there is more pressure than ever to try to make a show succeed and how have you dealt with this?
It is sad that so many shows seem to fail these days. However, I feel that I have done my due diligence over the past several years and have taken the temperature so to speak of the British public. I therefore wholeheartedly believe that this show will do well.
Do you have a particular favourite moment, song or line from the show Happy Days?
I have several favourite moments in the show as I absolutely love the music and I think the show is really well written. However, if I had to pick a favourite moment, it would be the dance contest towards the end of Act I. I also really love the opening number ‘Run’ in Act II. These numbers are full of great choreography. Wait till you see just how incredible the dancing is in this show!…thanks to our fabulous director/choreographer Andrew Wright!
Do you have a favourite Musical Theatre show or song that means a lot to you?
I hate to sound cheesy and obvious, but my favourite Musical Theatre show is HAPPY DAYS – A NEW MUSICAL. It’s like my child. I feel like I’ve been pregnant for four years and I’m now about to give birth to the most perfect child!
Happy Days starts it’s UK tour on 11th January 2014 in Bromley. For full tour dates click here.