An updated, re-imagined and modernized version of the children's classic Hansel and Gretel will open March 25 at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank and run through May 21. Written by Lori Marshall, daughter of the Falcon's founder Gary Marshall, the production is directed by Kevin Larkin and stars Jo Anne Worley in the pivotal role of the nanny/witch. Also featured are the voices of Penny Marshall, Gary Marshall and other surprise celebrity guests.
Worley's first local shows were at the now-defunct Music Box Theatre. Her first Equity job was in a Billy Barnes revue, which eventually took her to New York. When she returned to L.A. she landed a role on TV's "Laugh-In," a comedy show starring Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. The Monday night program, broadcast from "beautiful downtown Burbank," was a big hit that made Worley famous. She continued to do theatre, though, and has been seen in such shows as The Wizard of Oz, Annie and The Pirates of Penzance, among others.
Marshall got the inspiration for Hansel and Gretel from raising her four-year-old twins. "The girls have recently made the discovery that it's cool to have a sibling," Marshall said. "They can play. They can fight. They can make up. But they will always have each other as an ally."
Director Larkin said the challenge of the piece "was in doing a total revamping of a fairy tale. It's all about family, and that it's absolutely OK to be from a one-parent family."
Besides Worley, the cast includes Tom Urich, Liam Kyle Sullivan, Alicia Lee, Daston Kalili and Beth Anne Garrison.Falcon Theatre is located at 4252 Riverside Drive, directly across the street from pop-icon landmark Bob's Big Boy. For tickets and information call (818) 955-8101.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent