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Garry Marshall Theatre makes space for future designers, productions

Garry Marshall Theatre makes space for future designers, productions
Two mannequins appear to wave to passing cars on Riverside Drive as they stand in front of the Garry Marshall Theatre to promote the weekend fundraising yard sale in Burbank on Saturday. (Dan Watson / Burbank Leader)

The Garry Marshall Theatre has accumulated a lot of props, sets, costumes and various trinkets during its 20 years in Burbank.

So much so that theater officials decided it was time to do a little “summer” cleaning. This past weekend, almost everything was up for sale during the group’s yard sale.

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It was not easy figuring out what to keep and what to sell, said Joseph Bwarie, one of the theater’s artistic directors, on Tuesday.

Having worked for the theater for many years, he said could match almost every item to the productions in which they were used.

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A dance troupe left the yard sale with an old wrestling mat that was used in a “Happy Days” musical, while others bought mannequins used in a production of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

Other items people took home for just a handful of dollars were parasols, dolls, dining sets, marquee letters and tables.

The items theater officials kept were mainly those used or were related to productions created by the late Garry Marshall, as well as period-specific props that are more difficult to come by.

“It wasn’t about making money,” Bwarie said. “It was all about making space for the new things to come in to the theater.”

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One of the theater’s goals, Bwarie said, is to provide a platform not only for actors, but also for sound, lighting, stage and costume designers.

“The Garry Marshall Theatre is a place for those artists to showcase what they do,” Bwarie said. “It’s such an intimate space here that really the work that they do — costumes, props, lighting and sound — it’s so close that the detail work that goes into it really does show to the audience.”

A possible future designer happened to be at the yard sale over the weekend, Bwarie said.

A young girl had stopped by and was looking at spare pieces of fabric the theater had laying around. Bwarie said she purchased some fabric, went home and, within a few hours, came back to the yard sale wearing a dress she made from the materials she had just bought.

“It was like seeing a future dress, costume or fashion designer,” Bwarie said. “I told her mom that she could take whatever she wants and that I didn’t want their money because there was some creativity happening.”

Had there been more room in the theater’s storage space or even if an addition was built to house items, Bwarie said they would have kept everything they could.

But that isn’t the case, which is fine for the co-artistic director, who said he would much rather see new and old talented designers come to the theater and have a chance to create a production the way they envisioned it to be.

Items that didn’t find a new home were repacked and stored again for consideration in upcoming productions.

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