‘Teacher Lawrie’ Produces Musical From Personal Experience

By CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA | Reporter

For the past 20 years, Lawrie Chiaro Smylie has worked as a vocal teacher at Palisades Charter Elementary School. Known by parents as “Teacher Lawrie,” she has been writing songs since the age of 10 and working on small musicals on the side.

But what her students don’t know is that she has been working to produce a 60-minute show, “Let’s Write a Musical,” based on work her and her late husband produced before his death.

Before losing her husband Ben to cancer, the pair wrote a musical together in hopes of boosting his spirits. The music consisted of original love songs she had written for Ben, and the two performed it in their living room to an audience of 50 friends.

After a standing ovation and much consideration, Lawrie decided to take the musical to the next level and try to get it on stage for the entertainment of others.

“When I brought the original musical to the director, he said this story isn’t personal enough,” Lawrie said in an interview with the Palisadian-Post.

Director and choreographer John Coppola had asked Lawrie to make the story more personal, and suggested the musical incorporate the story of Lawrie and her husband writing the piece together.

Since then, the show has sold out five performances at the McCadden Theatre in Hollywood.

“I think he’d be very proud of me, I think he’d be delighted,” Lawrie said when asked what she thinks her husband would have thought about the musical going into a professional production.

“It’s been very cathartic and therapeutic to work on something that’s all about him and me,” she continued.

While the show is not appropriate for children, Lawrie has no intention of leaving her students behind.

“I am passionate also about my job teaching music at Pali Elementary,” she said. “I love being a part of the Pali community.”

Along with teaching, Lawrie hopes a local theater like Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica or Odyssey in West LA will take interest in her musical and keep the show—and the legacy of her husband—alive forever.

Tickets are still available for the recently added showing on June 22.