Cindy Williams doing what she loves
"Laverne & Shirley" TV star Cindy Williams, with stage and screen credits that include the role of Ron Howard's girlfriend in the 1973 movie classic "American Graffiti," is in town doing what she really likes to do.
That's theater, appearing before a live audience that she says actually serves as another member of the cast and creates a new "energy every night."
Williams, 66, headlines "Weekend Comedy" at Alhambra Theatre & Dining. The performances began Wednesday and end Oct. 20.
The story line involves two couples — one older, one younger — who accidentally rent the same cottage for a three-day weekend and decide to share it.
Described in a news release as "a comedic clash between generations," Williams said Wednesday it tells a story.
"It's relatable," she said.
Williams explains the show explores "the ups and downs of relationships," including love, stress and fun.
Williams was set to star in "Sylvia" last year at the Alhambra but it conflicted with a tour of "Nunsense." During an interview Wednesday, as the Beach Boulevard dinner theater was being prepared for the first night of the run, Williams said she had been in town 11 days, rehearsing and preparing.
Williams hasn't seen much of the area yet but intends to, especially St. Augustine, on an upcoming Monday, the only day the theater is dark. The show runs Tuesday-Sunday nights as well as matinees on Saturday and Sunday.
Williams grew up in California. "I wanted to be a registered nurse, but I didn't have the academic skills," she said.
She was drawn into writing and then performing. "I figured somehow and someday it'll happen," she said. "I waited tables until it did."
Credits include one of the "Blob" movies, directed by "Dallas" star Larry Hagman, in which she's eaten by the blob. She appeared in others, but is best remembered for "American Graffiti."
Her first roles were in TV, including commercials and roles in the 1960s and early '70s shows "Room 222," "Nanny and the Professor" and "Love, American Style."
It was "Laverne & Shirley," the situation comedy of two young working-class women in Milwaukee, also starring Penny Marshall, that made her a household name. One of the executive producers was Garry Marshall, Penny's brother.
The show ran from 1976-82 and fans regularly thank her for it. "People recognize me," she said, and they reminisce about watching the show with their families "on the couch on Tuesday night."
They consider her "as a family member," she said. "It's so joyful and comforting."
She said Penny Marshall called her recently to let her know the show was airing on TV. Marshall had the TV on and "heard our voice."
Williams starred as Shirley Feeney. She and Marshall, as Laverne DeFazio, worked in a beer factory.
She said the show was appreciated because the characters directed the comedy at themselves.
"We never make fun of other people on that show," she said.
A TV show isn't necessarily easy. "It was really hard work," she said. Their goal, before a studio audience of 400 people, was "to make ourselves laugh out loud."
Before hitting it big, there are other challenges: Being poor, paying the rent, not having a reliable car to make an audition, losing a part.
"It's the spin of the roulette wheel," she said.
Williams has two grown children, daughter Emily and son Zak, with former husband, comedian and actor Bill Hudson, and said both children are adults and "wonderful kids." Hudson is the father of actress Kate Hudson.
Williams' advice to young people considering an acting career is direct. "You've got to get into the theater," she said. "Do everything – Shakespeare to The Three Stooges."
Her preference, however, is what she's in town to do.
"I like to make people laugh."