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'Happy Days' coming to Atlanta

Joey Sorge bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Henry Winkler.

The resemblance bodes well for Sorge, who is resurrecting the beloved Fonzie, the character Winkler originated in the TV sitcom "Happy Days." Sorge will don a black leather jacket and a seriously cool attitude to play Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli on stage in "Happy Days: A New Musical," which opens at Atlanta's Fabulous Fox Theatre on Tuesday.

The 39-year-old Sorge grew up with the popular television show.

"I watched it every Tuesday," he said. "(My friends and I) used to role play the people we wanted to be and I used to pretend to be The Fonz."

It was early practice for a character Sorge never really expected to play. About three years ago, he was asked to audition for the role of Fonzie in the stage musical but decided against it.

"They wanted a name to play The Fonz and I just didn't really want to waste my time," he said.

Another Joey - Joey McIntyre of boy band New Kids on the Block fame - was cast for the California run, but once the musical headed east, the role came open and Sorge was again asked to try out.

"I auditioned and they put me on video tape and sent my video tape to Garry Marshall, (who created 'Happy Days'). He said, 'We've found our Fonzie.'

"I've never been able to see myself in (Henry Winkler) exactly," Sorge said, "but I take it as a full compliment."

Sorge turns the compliments around when he talks about meeting Winkler.

"He has just been so gracious and wonderful and complimentary, really, really a nice guy," Sorge said. "And I think he's happy, too, knowing we're doing a good job with his show and his role, not destroying it."

"Happy Days: A New Musical" follows Fonzie, Ritchie, Potsie, Ralph Malph and other characters as they try to save the famous drive-in malt shop Arnold's, which is in danger of being demolished.

"I just think that it's an entertaining night," Sorge said of the show, which is set to run in Atlanta through April 5. "I think the show gives a whole homage to the TV show. To me, that's what this show is about. It really is an homage."