The ‘Bandits’ are back! “The Root Beer Bandits — A Rootin’ Tootin’ Wild West Musicale” reopens at Garry Marshall Theatre October 2-31. Book and lyrics by Joseph Leo Bwarie and Lori Marshall, and music by Rachael Lawrence.
The musical comedy for the whole family returns home to the Garry Marshall Theatre starring Kelly Brandeburg (Beach Blanket Babylon), Tiffany Daniels (Nickelodeon’s That Girl Lay Lay), Josey Montana McCoy (voice of Kaeya “Genshin Impact”), Clayton Snyder(Disney’s “Lizzie McGuire”), and Cloie Wyatt Taylor (“Partners in Rhyme”). With more songs, more story, and more live music than ever before – this kid-approved, full-blown, musical production is bursting with BIG LAUGHS for all ages.
The book and lyrics are by Joseph Leo Bwarie (‘Frankie Valli’ in Broadway’s “Jersey Boys”) and Lori Marshall (co-author, “My Happy Days in Hollywood”); the music is by Rachael Lawrence (“American Girl” film series).
“The Root Beer Bandits” is the story of a woman with dreams of becoming a songwriter in 1860. In an effort to prove that women are capable of anything, she disguises herself to ride for the Pony Express. Her name is Pollyanna Peppercorn, and her adventure is just beginning.
When Polly (Tiffany Daniels) delivers a letter to Sheriff Bailey (Clayton Snyder) of Sarsaparilla City, they discover that Copper Penny (Kelly Brandeburg) is scheming to steal the city’s famous gold label root beer supply, with her partner Zeke (Josey Montana McCoy). Alongside Sally Sue Tucker (Cloie Wyatt Taylor), a trailblazing entrepreneur, and Sheriff Bailey, Polly sets things right and makes it clear that everyone is capable of greatness, no matter what their circumstances may be.
At select performances, the role of ‘Sheriff Bailey’ will be played by Travis Leland.
Christine Lakin (director for ABC’s “The Goldbergs” and “Schooled”) is set to choreograph. Ryan Whyman (Troubadour Theater Company) will music direct. Costume design by Ovation-nominee Jessica Champagne-Hansen (Head of the Costume Program in the theatre arts department of East Los Angeles College), scenic design by Tanya Orellana (Princess Grace Fabergé Theatre Award recipient), lighting design by JM Montecalvo (“Trolls The Experience” in New York City), sound design by Ovation-nominee Robert Arturo Ramirez (“Arrow” on The CW), and props design by Siena LaGambina (Garry Marshall’s granddaughter). Casting is by Elizabeth Ayoob. Production stage manager is Brandon Hong Cheng.
“The Root Beer Bandits “is sponsored by the Hotel Amarano in Burbank, CA – the exclusive hotel of Garry Marshall Theatre.
The History of creating “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 being fictitious archetypal Wild West personas.
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 valuable gold label beverage, “The Root Beer Bandits” was born.”
In the summer of 2005 (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 by the first iteration. And as with all Garry Marshall driven projects, re-writes followed and new drafts including new songs were work shopped into the show.
The songs, “Wild West Destination,” “The Ballad Of Pollyanna Peppercorn,” and “Dastardly Duo,” harken 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, “How The West Was Won” and “Happy Endings” add a layer of contemporary pop, and ideas that reflect her ambition of becoming a songwriter, at a time when men dominated the music scene.
In 2019, the creative team reunited after a ten-year hiatus. “The Root Beer Bandits” was
re-conceived and expanded with the addition of a live band, a revamped book and new songs. The sold-out 2019 production was made possible through the support of Liz and Phill Gross. The production was nominated for Ovation Awards in the categories of Direction and Costume Design.
Garry Marshall Theatre is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing innovative performances, educational opportunities, and storytelling activities for all ages, year-round. Located in the heart of Burbank and Toluca Lake’s media district, the critically acclaimed and Ovation Award-winning 130-seat theatre was founded in 1997 as the Falcon Theatre by Hollywood legend Garry Marshall. Reestablished as the nonprofit Garry Marshall Theatre in 2017, the theatre continues to cultivate new artists and experiences that spark ideas and build community.
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