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Interview: Playwright Lori Marshall Boogie-ing with CINDY & THE DISCO BALL

Next up at the Garry Marshall Theatre, Lori Marshall & Joseph Leo Bwarie’s Cindy & The Disco Ball opening October 7th

Interview: Playwright Lori Marshall Boogie-ing with CINDY & THE DISCO BALL

Next up at the Garry Marshall Theatre, Lori Marshall and Joseph Leo Bwarie's Cindy & The Disco Ball opening October 7, 2022. Joe co-directs (with Christine Lakin) the cast of Christopher Baker, Jasiana Caraballo, Malynda Hale, Hayden Kharrazi and Abigail Kate Thomas.

I had the chance to field a few queries to Lori the columnist/fairytale playwright/ ghostwriter.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Lori!

What was the initial spark of an idea that developed into Cindy & The Disco Ball: The Musical?

I have twin daughters named Lily and Charlotte. And when they were growing up so many of the fairy tales I read to them before bedtime seemed old-fashioned and outdated. So, Joe and I started talking about modernizing a traditional fairy tale, and the Cinderella story seemed like a story primed for a re-boot. Also, I grew up in the 1970s and to this day the fashion of that era is my favorite because it is so colorful and bold.

What would be your three-line pitch for Cindy & The Disco Ball: The Musical?

Interview: Playwright Lori Marshall Boogie-ing with CINDY & THE DISCO BALL Girl is made to feel invisible. Girl finds the courage to change the narrative. Girl makes others believe in her vision, too, and is finally seen.

What cosmic forces brought you together with Joseph Leo Bwarie to co-write this and nine other children's plays?

I had written a few produced plays for the Falcon myself, with the encouragement of my dad. But he always told me it was more productive and fun to have a writing partner. He had Fred Freeman, Jerry Belson and Lowell Ganz. So I was always looking around to see if someone could write with me. And literally one day I met Joe in the parking lot of the Falcon. He said, "I have seen some of the shows you have been doing, and I think if we worked together, we could make them better." And just like that I had found my partner. It felt like magic, but it was true.

How hands on are you for premieres' pre-productions?

I live in San Francisco, and I now work for a hospice organization so I cannot be as present at the theatre as I used to be. But I talk to Joe all the time and he updates me, and we discuss changes and re-writes over the phone. But he is the show runner, and I trust him completely. I can talk about the characters and the dialogue, but he masters the whole production from acting to dancing to hair and makeup. He holds the complete vision so beautifully.

I saw the Garry Marshall's production of The Root Beer Bandits. I, as an adult, enjoyed it very much. Are there tenets you go by in writing a play for children as opposed to for adults?

I think we have learned over the years we don't write a play for children or adults, we just write a play that we like and others will enjoy it, too. I think the shows we do now are designed more like traditional musicals that can appeal to all ages. When my girls were growing up, I took them to see "Wicked" on Broadway. It was one of the nicest moments I can remember because they loved the show, but I loved it, too. That is the feeling Joe and I are shooting for.

Interview: Playwright Lori Marshall Boogie-ing with CINDY & THE DISCO BALL Any subjects taboo or too grown-up?

As Garry would say, we don't really do "smutty." We know our audience and we know what they like. They like comedy, romance, and drama. And they like a show that can attract a multi-generational audience in which children, parents, and grandparents can all go together and then have dinner in the neighborhood afterwards.

When your father started this theatre space in 1997, he christened it the Falcon Theatre. Was it a no-brainer to rename it The Garry Marshall Theatre after his passing?

It was a no-brainer because he put it in his will. The Falcon was his dream and he felt that by re-naming it after him we could carry on the theatre and make it our dream, too.

You were just a baby when your father was a creative force behind the scenes for The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Danny Thomas Show, The Joey Bishop Show, The Lucy show, to name just a few. How old were you when you first realized your father was an influential figure in show business?

I used to go to "The Odd Couple" and sit underneath the bleachers and watch the run-throughs. There weren't supposed to be kids on the set, but my dad wanted me to see what he did for a living. From my hiding spot under the bleachers, I could see he was the boss, and people listened to him when he gave them a line to punch up their joke. He was appreciated and admired.

As a child, did you ever do a cameo in one of his projects?

Interview: Playwright Lori Marshall Boogie-ing with CINDY & THE DISCO BALL Yes, I was in one episode of "The Odd Couple," and one episode of "Happy Days." I didn't really like acting. I wanted to stay home and write. But my sister, Kathleen, and brother, Scott, liked acting more. But my dad always insisted each one of us do a cameo in every one of his movies. He liked it when we visited the set because it cheered him up.

Did you never get bitten by the acting bug?

No, but my twins enjoyed being in his movies, especially "Runaway Bride," "New Year's Eve" and "Valentine's Day." It was always fun to visit dad on location. There is a fun scene I had with Joe in "The Princess Diaries 2," at the very time we were working on the original "Cindy" script.

Was writing always your goal?

Always. I went to Northwestern Medill School of Journalism and got my undergraduate degree and master's. My dad went there was well.

Writers usually create in a solitary environment (except for TV writing pools). You've co-authored a majority of your work. Do you prefer to have a writing partner rather than go it alone?

Yes. For many years I wrote material primarily with my dad. And I was so grateful when he died that I already had Joe in my life so we can continue to create new work.

Which gives you greater gratification: ghostwriter for others or writing for yourself?

Interview: Playwright Lori Marshall Boogie-ing with CINDY & THE DISCO BALL I like any kind of writing. Words just make sense to me. I'm not a numbers person, but stringing words together and making them work makes me happy. The other day someone asked me to write a speech for a funeral and I said, "I would love that." Telling stories just interests me.

What's in the near future for Lori Marshall?

My mother, Barbara, and I published her memoir last year "One-Way Ticket to L.A.: How a Nurse from Ohio Found Love in Hollywood." It is available on Amazon. We had a great time writing it and my dad would be so proud of her. The pictures inside the book are terrific, too.

Thank you again, Lori! Iook forward to meeting your Cindy.

For tickets to the live performances of Cindy & The Disco Ball: The Musical through October 30, 2022, click on the button below:


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From This Author - Gil Kaan

      Gil Kaan, a former Managing Editor of the now-defunct Genre magazine, has had the privilege of photographing and interviewing some major divas of film, television, and stage in... (read more about this author)


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