Throughout the classic TV comedy Laverne & Shirley’s successful seven-year run, Eddie Mekka’s Carmine “The Big Ragu” Ragusa would sing, dance and steal the heart of Cindy Williams’ Shirley and fans alike.
These days, Mekka keeps busy fronting an old time rock band, performing on ships and at Italian festivals, and acting in musicals around the country.
“I really love the theatre and it’s given me the chance to do a lot of things and see a lot of places,” Mekka says. “I’ve done Grease, Hairspray and of course, Fiddler on the Roof.”
In fact, Mekka has performed in Fiddler five times at the Bucks County Playhouse over the past 20 years in the lead role of Tevye.
“I’ve done so many shows there that I feel I know everyone in Bucks,” Mekka says. “I’m glad the theatre was renovated because it really needed it, but I am a little afraid that they might not have as much community involvement as they once did.”
Not that it’s stopping Mekka from returning to the area. From Oct. 26 through Oct. 28, the actor will be taking on the roles of both Eddie and The Narrator in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the Fuge, 780 Falcon Circle, Warminster.
“I’ve never been there but I’ve seen photos of it online and it looks like a perfect venue for the show,” he says. “This is where the NASA astronauts trained. I think that will bring people out, and the show is going to be a lot of fun.”
Mekka owns one of the original leather jackets he wore when he guest starred as Carmine on Happy Days to help Fonzie and is getting that ready to step into the shoes of the motorcycle-thug Eddie, who gets to sing “Hot Patootie: Bless My Soul” in the show.
He’s also looking to have some fun playing around with the audience as the narrator.
“I’ve seen the show at midnight screenings a number of times and I just love the music,” he says. “It’s rock and roll music from my era and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Mekka recently working opposite his ex-co-star Cindy Williams in a production of “Sylvia” and has stayed in touch with most of the cast.
“I still see the gang every so often. Occasionally, we all do the autograph shows together,” he says, “and if I’m not working with Ron Howard (Ritchie, Happy Days), I’m playing baseball with him.”
Although he would love to get back to television someday, he doesn’t see it happening because of all the reality shows that have hit the airwaves.
“Laverne & Shirley was good family television but now it’s all [junk]. We could make people laugh without saying the ‘F’ word or taking your clothes off,” he says. “If something came along, it would be great, but I don’t mind sticking with the theatre. It has been very loyal to me and there’s no reality stars in theatre. I would like to see them try.”