When I asked Cindy Williams—best known as Shirley Feeney on Laverne and Shirley—whether it was a blessing or a curse for her to be so closely identified with the role, she didn’t hesitate with her answer.
“It’s a blessing,” she said. “It’s a total blessing. It’s not like I played Hannibal Lecter. I was on a show that delighted people, and that was our intention, to make people laugh, so people approach me with the best of themselves. It’s an absolute blessing.”
Her discussion of the hit sitcom will be a large part of her new one-woman show, Me, Myself and Shirley, which is coming to the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Annenberg Theater for four shows, from Thursday, Jan. 20, through Saturday, Jan. 22. The Palm Springs performances will serve as the kickoff of an 18-city tour for Me, Myself and Shirley through April.
While Williams will be traveling quite a bit over the next several months, she won’t have to go far to start the tour: She’s a proud resident of Desert Hot Springs.
“I used to rent a house here when I was doing Laverne and Shirley, and I’d spend my weekends down here,” she said. “Then I owned a house here for many, many years in Palm Springs, and now I live in Desert Hot Springs, and have lived here for about 12 years. … I was in Las Vegas doing a show (Menopause the Musical) for five years, so I was living there. But I have my little house in Desert Hot Springs, and I love it.”
There’s much more to Cindy Williams than Shirley Feeney. Other TV credits include Room 222; Love, American Style; Law and Order: SVU; 8 Simple Rules; and, of course, Happy Days. She’s got numerous big-screen credits, including The Conversation, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and American Graffiti, directed by George Lucas. She’s had success onstage, starring in numerous national tours, including that of Grease; she also enjoyed a Broadway stint in The Drowsy Chaperone.
It was her work as the Rev. Mother Mary Regina in productions of Nunsense and its sequels that led to the premiere of Me, Myself and Shirley in June 2021. She was set to play the role in a Nunsense production at the Wick Theatre in Boca Raton, Fla., when producers decided a show with a smaller cast would be best in these times of COVID-19.
“Danny Goggin, who wrote Nunsense, called me and said, ‘Why don’t you write your one-woman show now?’” Williams said. “And I said, ‘What one-woman show?’ Anyway, I did, with (Greater Tuna producer) Charles Duggan, and then we went into the Wick and took over the Nunsense spot, since it’s just one person onstage. We did that for three weeks at the Wick, and that’s how it came about.”
As the press release for Me, Myself and Shirley enthuses, “Williams will chronicle the stories, the secrets, the embarrassing moments, and the highs and lows of her life in Hollywood” during the 90-minute show. While Williams will touch on a variety of subjects—including her unsuccessful audition for the role of Princess Leia—much of the second half focuses on Laverne and Shirley.
“The audience’s response was just beautiful, because everybody laughed at the same things that they’d laughed at 40 years ago,” Williams said about the Laverne and Shirley clips. “That was just a wonderful, beautiful blessing of a surprise.”
At the conclusion of each show, Williams does a Q&A with the audience.
“At every Q&A that I have done—which has been, like, 21 of them—they always ask me if we got hurt on the show,” Williams said. “That surprised me. They always ask how old I am, and I’m waiting for them to ask how much I weigh.”
Me, Myself and Shirley will be performed at 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday, Jan. 20 and 21; and 2 and 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 22, at the Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 N. Museum Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $55. For tickets or more information, visit www.memyselfandshirley.com.