The Garry Marshall Theatre lit up the Burbank sky with the unveiling of their new marquee Thursday night. The occasion marks a reinvention of sorts for everyone involved. Art Directors Joseph Leo Bwarie and Dimitri Toscas were on hand to introduce the new sign, as were some of Garry’s closest friends and family.
“This is really exciting,” said Joseph Bwarie, “the gathering of people from all crosses of Garry’s life coming together, and lights mean something in everyone’s life. But neon lights across from Bob’s Big Boy, we’re giving Bob a run for his money!” With a countdown starting from 13, which was Garry Marshall’s favorite number, the neon marquee became alive and was greeted with an enormous applause.
“Joe and I have been working on this for months and months,” remarked Dimitri Toscas, “we worked to get it together and it’s moving to see the lights turned on.” Marshall’s friends were also on hand to walk the red carpet and talk about what it means to have a resurgence in Burbank’s art community. Actress and Director Jenny Sullivan was “thrilled” to witness the event. She went on to say the ceremony was a “big deal and emotional.”
Actor Jack McGee said attending the event was “rewarding, it gave me goosebumps, I’ve worked with for Garry a number of times before, I did my first theatre out here and I’m just thrilled to be here.” Joe Mantegna, another one of Marshall’s closest friends, said the event was “Great. I lived three doors down from Garry for the last twenty-six years. It’s a fitting thing for a guy who’s done so much for this community to have a theatre named after him.”
The theatre conducted rehearsals tonight for their opening of “Master Class.” Coincidentally, “Master Class” was one of Marshall’s favorite plays. One of the points stressed by friends and family in attendance was that just because Marshall isn’t physically here to help run the theatre doesn’t mean his presence isn’t felt.
Marshall’s wife, Barbara Wells, explained further by saying, “[The theatre] was doing great for twenty years, and now we had to do something to freshen it up, give it a new name and let everyone know that we’re back in business and that we’ve never stopped. When the season finished in July, Gary had done that. That was his season that he had planned everything. We filled out his year and now we’re freshening it up and are trying to get more things going on.” Furthermore, there are planned fundraisers that will be happening in the near future to help the theatre continue to run in its pristine condition. “[Garry] paid for everything. He did everything. I said, ‘If I could direct, act, or write, I would.’ I don’t do any of those things,” said Wells.
The first large fundraising event is a gala scheduled for November 13, which was Garry’s birthday. The gala is set to host an auction that will include memorabilia belonging to the Marshall family. The gala is important to the theatre as it is currently being run as non-profit.
Marshall’s granddaughter capped off the night by saying her favorite moment was that all of the people she knew were there and that she “got to meet them all and the lighting of the marquee was very exciting.” To find more information on tickets and events, visit www.garrymarshalltheatre.org,