"'Happy Days' is classic television," said Bob Whaley, director of ACT I's production. "It's a throwback. ... The plot of the play is Arnold's [the teen hangout] is being bought out by some faceless corporation and they decide that they can't let that happen.
"So they have a dance contest. They eventually have a professional wrestling match with professional wrestlers and while that is going on Fonzie, who [is an] American icon, begins to doubt himself. So there's a subplot with Fonzie. ... Pretty much every part of it is fun and the songs are amazing. So if anyone even thinks they are going to like a musical, I can't imagine they would not like 'Happy Days.'"
Among the cast of about 30 members, Joshua Putman will portray The Fonz. Joining ACT I nearly five years ago, this will be about the eighth production in which he has honed his acting skills.
"He's a very iconic character as a lot of people know if they've seen the TV show. Pretty much the story line is he's involved in a wrestling match with the Malachis and he eventually runs away because he has a hurt knee and his hopes are going to be crushed. [But then] he actually comes back and fights and wins. It's just a real good story about how people can forgive and forget and move on."
Since forming in 2002, ACT I -- a theater group for adults and youth ages 12 to 20 -- has performed about 30 productions. The group helps its members gain an appreciation of the theater by encouraging them to sample various responsibilities, from set design to acting and directing.
"I've been with ACT I since we started 10 years ago and I started out just being a student," Whaley said. "And then eventually I worked my way up to director and then I started building sets. Really I tell people, 'Theater is what I do. My job just pays the bills.'
"ACT I allows me to do good things for people. Through ACT I, I can actually impact people and help them. ACT I, we try to make it a safe place for everyone. So if you're having a problem at school or you don't fit in at school, you can come to ACT I and we're pretty much a giant family. So you can come there, hang out, be safe and be yourself."
Tickets for "Happy Days" cost $15. For more information or to obtain tickets in advance, call 770-386-7343 or visit The Grand Theatre ticket office, 7 N. Wall St., Monday through Friday from 8 to 11 a.m. and 12:30 to 5 p.m.