Production could signal future joint ventures for the holidays
By Jim Flint for Ashland.news
Rogue Valley’s theater companies have always been in a friendly competition for customers to fill their seats. But they also support each other in many ways.
This year, the region’s major theater organization, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and a smaller but also long-time presenter of stage productions, Oregon Cabaret Theatre, are cooperating in a very direct way.
Each company is putting on its own holiday show — Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” at the Cabaret and an irreverent parody of the same story, “It’s Christmas, Carol!” by OSF at the Bowmer Theatre.
At the same time, the two organizations are collaborating to bring a holiday classic to the stage, Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.” OSF will host at the Thomas Theatre and OCT will produce the show.
“We were thrilled when Nataki (Garrett, OSF artistic director) approached us in 2019 with the possibility of bringing ‘White Christmas’ to OSF in 2020,” said Valerie Rachelle, Cabaret artistic director.
“She had seen that ‘White Christmas’ had been announced to be produced in our 2020 season. At that time, OSF wasn’t producing a holiday show, and Nataki was reaching out to start a conversation about OSF hosting our holiday show in their space.”
The pandemic interrupted and the collaboration never happened. But as COVID waned, discussions resumed, an agreement ensued, and the 2022 dates for “White Christmas” were set.
“White Christmas” was one of Rachelle’s favorite childhood holiday films and one of her most favorite movie musicals.
“I have directed the show before for PCPA (Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts) Theaterfest on the central coast of California,” she said. “And although the musical is a little different from the movie, the generosity and love that it portrays is a universal story for all of us and the perfect heartwarming gift for the holiday season.”
OSF will host with its crew, house management, equipment, and box office. However, the production is fully produced by OCT, which will provide performers, designers, director, choreographer, and other support personnel.
OSF Executive Director David Schmitz said OSF is excited to make the Thomas Theatre available to the Cabaret at the same time the festival is producing its own holiday show.
The “White Christmas” cast includes Galloway Stevens as Bob Wallace; Jonathan Luke Stevens as Phil Davis; Natasha Harris as Judy Haynes; Blair Baker as Betty Haynes; John Leistner as General Waverly; Livia Genise as Martha; Alex Boyles as Ralph Sheldrake; Lauren Blair as Rita; Christie Dabreau as Rhoda; Shannon Carter, ensemble; Gabrielle Smith, ensemble; Michael Persson, ensemble; Owen Ing, ensemble; Colby Hamann, ensemble; Evan Sheets, ensemble; and Payton Kennedy and Addison Sakraida, alternating as Susan.
Could the Cabaret collaborate again with OSF and/or might OSF consider collaborating with other companies during its off season?
“We are absolutely interested in future collaborations,” Schmitz said, “and we’re eager to see how this partnership with OCT works out for all involved.”
“We’re looking forward to the learnings from this year to hopefully find a repeatable model,” he added.
Rachelle echoed Schmitz’s comments.
“We’re seeing how it goes for both companies,” she said. “It’s a way to start more community development and support for all theaters in the area. I think it would be a great second story if OSF and OCT find ways to collaborate and support each other more.”
She believes collaborations among other local companies would be good for theater in the valley.
“Wouldn’t it be amazing if the winter brought tourists to see multiple holiday shows presented by multiple theater companies in the valley? We have so much to offer during the smoke-free winter months, including holiday craft fairs, the Festival of Lights, and now three professional holiday productions,” Rachelle said.
Performances of “White Christmas” are scheduled Dec. 1 through Jan. 1, with matinees at 1:30 p.m. and evening shows at 8. Tickets can be purchased at osfashland.org.
‘A Christmas Carol‘
The Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol,” will play on the Cabaret stage from Nov. 17 to Dec. 31.
It tells the story of the miserly curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge, visited on Christmas Eve by three spirits intent on setting him on the unlikely path to redemption.
The cast includes Marshall Gluskin as Scrooge; Austin Miller as Bob Cratchit; Stephen Dominguez as the Ghost of Christmas Present and Fezziwig; Todd Neilsen as Jacob Marley; Cody Pettit as Fred; Melanie Marie as Mrs. Cratchit; Alysia Beltran as Belle and others; Zaq Wentworth as Peter Cratchit and others; and Chloe Boyan as the Ghost of Christmas Past and others.
Playgoers are given the option of ordering dinner with the show, served 90 minutes before curtain time.
Matinees start at 1 p.m. and evening shows are at 8 p.m. For more information and to order tickets, go to oregoncabaret.com.
‘It’s Christmas, Carol!’
If you laughed your head off at the antics of Mark Bedard, Brent Hinkley and John Tufts in Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Marx Brothers comedy romps, you’re going to love them in OSF’s reprise of its holiday show, “It’s Christmas, Carol!”
OSF will present its second annual holiday special Nov. 23 through Jan. 1. The song-filled parody was written by the zany trio, who return to star in the 2022 encore production at the Bowmer Theatre. Pirronne Yousefzadeh directs.
The three men, each with an impressive theatrical résumé, have chalked up a collective total of 35 seasons with OSF.
The story is about businesswoman Carol Scroogenhouse, who is taken by three ghosts through time and space to reckon with how she’s abandoned humanity for hollow capitalism.
Schmitz says feedback on last year’s production of the show was very positive.
“Bedard, Hinkley and Tufts were the first and only call we made when we decided to move forward with a holiday show in 2021 at OSF,” he said.
“And they didn’t disappoint. They’ve built a hilarious, playful, and inclusive holiday tradition. We may someday face the possibility of doing the show without them, but it’s hard to imagine that day.”
The show has been extensively reworked since last year.
“The playwrights are re-writing the show to make it faster and even more hilarious,” Schmitz said. “If you saw the show last year, you absolutely must see it again, as there will be new musical numbers, new jokes, and new hilarity. We also have some new actors.”
The cast includes Bedard as The Ghost of Holiday Past; Shayna Blass as Barbara Cratchit and others; Christiana Clark as Narrator; Armando Duran as Wezzyfig and others; Jeremy Gallardo as Tim Cratchit and others; Brent Hinkley as The Ghost of Holiday Future; Amy Lizardo as Mrs. Wezzyfig and others; Benjamin Pelteson as David Cratchit and others; Lynette Rathnam as Marley and others; Erica Sullivan as Carol Scroogenhouse; and John Tufts as The Ghost of Holiday Present.
For more information and to purchase tickets, go to osfashland.org.
Reach writer Jim Flint at email@example.com.