The Root Beer Bandits Announced At Garry Marshall Theatre

The marshallARTS Family Series presents The Root Beer Bandits - A Rootin' Tootin' Wild West Musicale, at the Garry Marshall Theatre in a new, updated pull-out-all-the-stops version complete with live band, added songs, a revised book, and all-new costumes for its 15th anniversary.

The book is by Joseph Leo Bwarie (one of the theatre's artistic directors and a record-holding 'Frankie Valli' in Broadway's Jersey Boys) and Lori Marshall (co-author, My Happy Days in Hollywood); the music is by Rachael Lawrence (songwriter, American Girl film series). Garry Marshall Theatre's Artistic Directors are Bwarie and Dimitri Toscas.

The Root Beer Bandits has only 17 performances, April 4 to April 28 (press opening April 5). Tickets, starting at $20, are on sale now by calling 818.955.8101 or by visiting The Garry Marshall Theatre has designated Friday,
April 19 at 7pm as a sensory-sensitive performance.

Returning for its third visit, The Root Beer Bandits tells the story of Polly Peppercorn, the only female to ride for the Pony Express. But as often is the case -- that is her predicament - she really has dreams to become a songwriter.

When Polly delivers a letter to Sheriff Bailey of Sarsaparilla City, they discover that Copper Penny is scheming to steal the city's famous root beer supply. With Sally Sue Tucker, a trailblazing female entrepreneur named helping her, and Sheriff Bailey, Polly sets things right and makes it clear that everyone is capable of greatness, no matter what their circumstances may be.

Hold onto yer hats, 'cuz laughs are sure to be a-plenty in this high-paced vaudevillian show including a chase, a Ho' Down, a sing-off at high noon, and although the show has a surprise ending, its no surprise that girl power saves the day!

Bwarie said, "The Root Beer Bandits has a cast full of comic archetypes from California's past that illustrate the state's history. And although they are fictional -- each of them represents a different idea of the laws of the land and how to achieve the American dream. When we first did the show fifteen years ago, we had no idea of - as time goes on - how important ideas of friendship, community, pursuing dreams and not being boxed in by other people's ideas would become as themes."

Garry Marshall Theatre favorite Clayton Snyder (Disney's Lizzie McGuire, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum) leads the cast, with Grace Yoo (Allegiance), Cloie Wyatt Taylor (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Troubadour Theater Company's Little Drummer Bowie), Kelly Brandeburg (Beach Blanket Babylon), and Josey Montana McCoy (Floyd Collins Ovation & LADCC Award nominee).

Also on the creative team are choreographer Christine Lakin (ABC's The Goldbergs) and dramaturge Dr. Katherine Nigh. The 2019 production features scenic design by Tanya Orellana (Princess Grace Fabergé Theatre Award recipient), costume design by Jessica Champagne-Hansen (Head of the Costume Program in the theatre arts department of East Los Angeles College), lighting design by JM Montecalvo (Trolls The Experience in New York City), sound design by Robert Arturo Ramirez (Arrow on The CW), along with properties designed by Benjamin Warren and Siena LaGambina (Mr. Marshall's 10-year-old granddaughter). Casting is by Elizabeth Ayoob; arrangements are by William Stone; the production stage manger is Emily Lehrer.

Sensory sensitive performance and other special events

The limited run of Root Beer Bandits is part of the ever-growing marshallARTS Family Series programming. The marshallARTS live stage productions are designed to educate, cultivate, and entertain the next generation of theatergoers, their friends, and their families.

With its commitment for making theatre accessible to all, Garry Marshall Theatre has designated Friday, April 19 at 7pm as a sensory-sensitive performance designed to create an experience that can be shared and enjoyed by all including our community's children and families living with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other sensory and social sensitivities.

At this performance there will be a reduction in lighting and sound effects that may be considered jarring or startling; modification of the house lights during the performance; access to resource materials to prepare for your visit, and (as always) a judgment-free, no-shush zone -- patrons are free to talk or move about the venue during the performance

Other special events include, on Sunday, April 14, a celebration of the 159th anniversary of the day the first Pony Express letter was delivered in California in 1860; and a rootin', tootin' Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday, April 21.

More about The Root Beer Bandits

In the spring of 2003, Garry Marshall brought together book writers Joseph Leo Bwarie and Lori Marshall, with songwriter Rachael Lawrence, to develop a new family musical set during the time of the Pony Express with the Working Title Polly and Penny's Wild West Adventure.

The trio created a small western township called Sarsaparilla City, known for its batches of root beer with a fleck of gold from the California Gold Rush years. Marshall supervised the original production, bringing his keen eye and ear for comedy, to it. Marshall was very hands-on, offering comedy suggestions and punching-up jokes for the characters, all archetypal Wild West personas.

Bwarie said, "The creative team, who had partnered previously on other original works, knew that the West offered a wide-open terrain for exploring history through story and music. Pinpointing an iconic change in how Americans could communicate, the saga unfolds in the year 1860 when the Pony Express began its now famous rides. With a couple of wisecracking, misunderstood outlaws entering the picture with the notion of stealing the city's signature beverage, The Root Beer Bandits was born."

The next summer (at the then Falcon Theatre) the first audience was treated to The Root Beer Bandits -- A Rootin' Tootin' Wild West Musicale - a mixture of vaudeville, melodrama, and musical comedy. Families were delighted with the 65-minute charmer.

The songs, "Wild West Destination," "The Ballad Of Pollyanna Peppercorn," and "Dastardly Duo," harkened back to vaudeville with musical comedy flair. While "What A Friend Is For" and "Gonna Have A Ho'Down" explore some styles of popular dances from that time: the waltz and the hoedown. Additionally, in Polly's anthems, there is a contemporary layer of pop chords and ideas that reflect her ambition of becoming a songwriter, at a time when men dominated the music scene.

Elizabeth and Phill Gross generously underwrite the 2019 production of The Root Beer Bandits-- A Rootin' Tootin' Wild West Musicale.

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