“The Root Beer Bandits” at the Garry Marshall Theatre


The Root Beer Bandits are back!!

The Root Beer Bandits is an utterly delightful musical play for kids that was first staged at the Falcon Theater in 2007, directed by Joseph Leo Bwarie. Book & lyrics by Lori Marshall & Joseph Leo Bwarie; Music by Rachael Lawrence.

The Falcon Theater has since been revamped and renamed after its late artistic director Garry Marshall. Joseph Leo Bwarie was appointed co-artistic director, along with Dimitri Toscas, and together they have been devising thoughtful seasons of live theater productions to serve their community.

Special Events:

The Garry Marshall Theatre has designated Friday, April 19, 2019 at 7pm as a sensory-sensitive performance. (Tickets at regular prices are available at the box office, on website and by phone – see more information below.)

Other special events include, on Sunday, April 14, 2019, 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, 2019.

Yee-haw! Grab your cowboy hat and boots and head on down to the Garry Marshall Theatre where a bubbly musical, The Root Beer Bandits, guarantees a rootin’, tootin’ good time for kids and adults.  Playing over several weekends, this good ole-fashioned slapstick musical comedy, set in a rustic Californian frontier town during the 1860s, will have you giggling and clapping along.

Featuring 12 original songs, composed by Rachael Lawrence, with book and lyrics by Lori Marshall and Joseph Leo Bwarie (Bwarie also directs the show.)

The show kicks off with a lively number from the Sarsaparilla City welcoming committee, a trio of colorfully dressed saloon can-can women who sing a song about “Californai-aye.”

Next we meet one of the five main characters, the small town’s Sheriff Bailey (Clayton Snyder) who explains that “here in the land of the lucky, home of the brave, we make root beer. Period.” Sheriff Bailey is a mild-mannered kind of lawman rather than the gun-slinging type. Smartly dressed in a three-piece suit and overcoat, he frequently consults his dog-eared but handy book of American laws.

Next on the scene is a black kerchief-wearing bandit who attempts to stick up the audience, but really he’s just fooling with us. This wiry fellow is Zeke (Josey Montana McCoy) who has joined forces with a rough-talking, brassy and red-haired outlaw named Copper Penny (Kelly Brandeburg) to lead a life of crime. As she explains, “They call me Copper Penny, Princess of the Ponderosa. I’m bad!” The two villains blow into town with a bit of a half-baked scheme. They are planning to steal the town’s supply of root beer, though it’s unsure what they then intend to do with their spoils. The pair sing a witty song called “Dastardly Duo” describing how “being bad ain’t easy, but it’s our evil recipe – we’ve got bad guy style!” 

When they run into the town’s southern belle and dress store owner Sally Sue, played with genteel aplomb by Cloie Wyatt Taylor, Zeke attempts to stick her up with a banana. The dastardly pair decides to kidnap this poor hapless maiden lest she expose their wicked scheme.  Meanwhile, plucky little Pollyanna Peppercorn (Grace Yoo) from the pony express mail service has stumbled into town with an important letter for Sheriff Bailey. But poor Polly’s pony has run away and now she can’t find the important letter. Wracked with a sense of failure, Polly sings a cute and wistful ballad about how she’d really rather write songs for a living, “The Ballad of Pollyanna Peppercorn.”

There’s plenty of silliness, pratfalls and gentle humor in this wonderfully charming show. The gorgeous costumes are designed by Jessica Champagne-Hansen and the clever sets by Tania Orellana.  Composer Rachael Lawrence’s songs are lovely and drive the plot forward beautifully, showcasing the thoughtful lyrics. A song that encourages you to “Believe in yourself” was an audience favorite.  Although I could have done without Polly’s girly dress makeover, it was nice to see there were no guns or shoot-outs at high noon in this town. When Sheriff Bailey catches up with the thieves, he insists on a sing off instead.


The Root Beer Bandits is a truly fantastic little show that’s sweet, fun and inoffensive (no guns or violence).  With inexpensive tickets and a brisk running time of only one hour and fifteen, it’s a perfect slice of delightful entertainment that families with kids of all ages will enjoy.

The Root Beer Bandits

Songs composed by Rachael Lawrence, with book and lyrics by Lori Marshall and Joseph Leo Bwarie.

Directed by Joseph Leo Bwarie.

Garry Marshall Theatre

4252 West Riverside Drive, Burbank CA 91505


April 4—April 28, 2019

Fridays at 7pm,

Saturdays at 2pm & 7pm, and

Sundays at 1pm

Special event: 

Sensory sensitive performance

Friday, April 19, 2019 at 7pm

(tickets at regular prices on sale at box office, on website and by phone.)

Special event: 

Sunday, April 21, 2019 at 1:00 pm –

Rootin’ Tootin’ Easter Egg Hunt – $28.00

VIP Easter Egg Hunt – $47.00

General pricing for Tickets:                     

Under 12 – $20.00

Adult – $22.00

Family 4-Packs – $80.00

Sheriff Star VIP – $39.00


Phone 818-955-8101

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.

Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.


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