‘Clue,’ ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ ‘Legally Blonde,’ ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and ‘Pine Mountain Lodge’ promise a mix of comedy, song and suspense
By Lee Juillerat for Ashland.news
There’s still three months to go for this year’s Oregon Cabaret Theatre, but plans are already being firmed up for 2024, the Cabaret’s 39th year.
Rick Robinson, the Cabaret’s managing director, says the offerings will include “a lineup of shows sure to delight its audiences with its Cabaret signature mix of laughs, music, and heart.”
Opening the 2024 season will be “Clue,” which is based on the iconic 1985 Paramount movie that was inspired by the classic Hasbro board game. The tale begins at a remote mansion, where six mysterious guests assemble for an unusual dinner party where murder and blackmail are on the menu. When their host turns up dead, they all become suspects. “Clue” will open on Feb. 2 and play through April 7.
Next up will be the Cabaret’s spring show, the B-movie musical “Little Shop of Horrors.” In the play, the meek and dejected floral assistant Seymour Krelborn stumbles across a new breed of plant that he affectionately names “Audrey II” after his co-worker crush. The foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivorous plant promises unending fame and fortune to the down-and-out Krelborn, but only as long as he keeps feeding it blood. “Little Shop of Horrors” will play from April 19 through June 23.
The summer offering playing from July 5 through Sept. 1 will be the Broadway smash based on the popular movie, “Legally Blonde: The Musical.” The Tony-nominated musical tells the story of Elle Woods, whose life is turned upside down when her boyfriend Warner dumps her so he can attend Harvard Law School. Determined to get him back, Elle ingeniously charms her way into the prestigious law school, and with the support of some new friends, sets out to prove to herself and to the world that she’s more than just a pretty face.
The world premiere of Robinson’s adaptation of “Sherlock Holmes and the Study in Scarlet” will be the Cabaret’s fourth offering. The play will take audiences back to the very beginning of the Holmes/Watson relationship in 1881, when Dr. John Watson has returned to London after serving in the second Anglo-Afghan War and is looking for a place to live. An old friend tells him that a consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, is looking for someone to split the rent at a flat at 221B Baker St. The resulting partnership plunges the new duo headlong into one of Holmes’ most devilish mysteries. Nate Cheeseman as Sherlock and Galen Schloming as Watson will return to the Cabaret to reprise their roles for “Study in Scarlet,” which run from Sept. 13 to Nov. 3.
The holiday season will feature the return of the Cabaret’s popular musical from 2016, “Pine Mountain Lodge,” which will feature classic standard songs of the 1930s and ’40s. “Pine Mountain Lodge” tells the story of a returning World War II veteran who’s been tasked with shutting down his late father’s flagging upstate New York hotel, only to discover that the hotel is by two quarreling ghosts, former lovers and famous dance partners. The ghosts put aside past grievances to convince the young man to put on one last show to save the old hotel from bankruptcy. “Pine Mountain Lodge” will run from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31.
Valerie Rachelle, the Cabaret’s artistic director, says the selection process is complex, explaining, “Our production team has been keeping a list for years of shows that we are interested in producing, as well as shows that have been recommended to us. That list is now over 100 titles, including musicals, comedies, dramas and even new works. We meet up in January every year and begin to pull about 15 titles off that list that we put on a survey for our patrons. We then ask our patrons to vote for their top five. This way, we get to see not only what our audiences are hungry for but also what our teams are passionate about producing.”
Saturday and Sunday matinees will be offered for all shows in 2024 along with select Thursdays.
And, regarding next season’s offering, Rachelle adds, “We choose our 2024 season from a place of pure joy. Laughter, love, comedy, joy, fun.”
The Oregon Cabaret, she believes, is part of the region’s fabric. As she explains, “The Oregon Cabaret Theatre is a professional theater, in that all of our artists, artisans, craftspeople, designers, etc. are paid. But we are community theater in the sense that we are the Rogue Valley’s theater. We have history with our local patrons and strive to be a magical place for friends, families, and loved ones to experience live theater together in a beautiful historic building. It’s our community that has kept us alive. It is our community that kept showing up for us. We are so thankful for all of our supportive patrons and grateful to be thriving today.”
Rachelle notes the Cabaret, like others theaters regionally, has faced a variety of challenges in recent years, which has led to questions about how to ensure its future.
“I’m often asked the best way to support the Cabaret after the unprecedented disruption to live events we’ve experienced over the last several years,” Rachelle says. “My answer is always the same: Subscribe with us. A great base of subscribers provides the Cabaret stability and enables us to take risks, both financial and artistic. We can’t guarantee that you’ll love every show we offer, but we can guarantee that we will continue to strive to make every Cabaret show better than the last.”
The Cabaret will again offer dining featuring a full menu of starters, dinners, brunches, beer, wine, beverages and desserts. And, because the Cabaret has a full liquor license, cocktails will be available. Reservations are required for dinner or brunch. Food and beverages are not included in the ticket price. No reservations necessary for starters, desserts or beverages.
The Cabaret also offers a 15% ticket discount for groups of 12 or more as well as discounted group dining packages.
The box office is located at First and Hargadine streets in Ashland. To purchase tickets or for more information call 541-488-2902, order online at oregon.cabaret.com. or visit the box office at 241Hargadine St.
Email freelance writer Lee Juillerat at email@example.com.