Like Family

Actress/producer Rita Wilson is bringing the one-woman show “Jamaica, Farewell” to the Falcon Theatre in Burbank with hopes that it will lead to a film project ala “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

Wilson had seen “Greek Wedding” as a play and was so enthusiastic about it, she and her husband, actor Tom Hanks, brought it to the big screen via his production company.

Her current project, “Jamaica, Farewell,” stars Debra Ehrhardt and is based on a true story about her journey to the United States from Jamaica and her dream to build a new life.

This will be Wilson’s first project produced at the Falcon. Wilson worked with the Falcon’s Garry Marshall on the TV series “Happy Days,” and later on his film “Runaway Bride.”

“I love that he is so devoted to theater and he and [daughter] Kathleen Marshall have created an amazing theater and a community for people to be able to see first-run plays before they go somewhere else,” Wilson said.

The partnership between the Falcon and Wilson falls in line with one of the theater’s missions: to bring up-and-coming artists together with established professionals, producer Kathleen Marshall said.

“I love the play,” she said. “It’s exciting — inspiring! And Rita brings such great insight into developing female stories.”

For Wilson, part of the excitement stems from her ability to introduce her new production in a real theater space, she said.

“Sometimes they are first produced in a black box or a warehouse, or in a space where there are folding seats brought in,” she said.

“Greek Wedding” debuted in a church because no theaters were available, she added.

Asked if the play will become a movie project down the road, Wilson said, “You never know.”

The charm of the story, and the passion of young girl wanting to come to America, was a story Wilson could relate to.

“The story speaks to me,” she said. “My mother was Greek, my father Bulgarian and they had dreams of coming to America during the war. The desire to live in a country that is free is a story quite appealing to me. People will do anything to get here.”

The comedic elements of the story were also a boost, she said.

“I’m also attracted to comedies — as Garry is. It’s always good to laugh,” she said. “And these are hard economic times, hard political times, and I think an escape and the ability to laugh for a while is not a bad thing.”

Wilson has placed Joel Zwick — who directed “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” — in the director’s chair for a shot at repeated success, she said.

“It’s so collaborative,” Wilson said. “We’re all working as a team, and I love that!”



What: “Jamaica, Farewell” a one-woman show starring Debra Ehrhardt

When: Preview performances begin at 8 p.m. Wednesday; opening night is at 8 p.m. March 25. The play closes April 17

Where: The Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank

Cost: Previews $29.50 to $32; opening night $52 to $57; regular $27 (student) to $42

Contact: (818) 955-8101 or visit

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World