Thursday, September 28, 2023

Oregon Cabaret produces lively season with fine food, great seats

Oregon Cabaret Theatre attracts sell-out crowds for a variety of performances. "Kinky Boots"
drew raves for its recent run. Up next is a Poirot mystery, running through Nov. 5.


Play goers at "Kinky Boots" enjoy appetizers, drinks and
the company of friends between acts of "Kinky Boots."

WHEN OREGON Cabaret Theatre launched in 1986, its building already had a colorful history.
The former Baptist church had been a pillar of the community for years, but had been fallen to ruin. In the late 1960s, after years of languishing, it was sold and "the Old Pink Church" went through several owners before it was purchased and saved by a visionary man.
Craig Hudson began a meticulous renovation  to restore the structure to its 1911 appearance, including replication of many of the unique stained glass windows. His transformation included landscaped gardens, tiered seating and service areas. He even salvaged a magnificent crystal chandelier and other appointments from a 1927 movie palace in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.
A smashing performance of "Kinky Boots" entertained
sell-out crowds this summer at the cabaret.
OUR FAMILY began its long run with the cabaret the same year it opened and since 1986, we've seen at least production almost every year.
Through the years, the repertoire has expanded from a single show to a five show season with 270 performances spanning February to New Year's Eve.
  The cabaret has also created 15 original shows, and has staged many hit musicals, including "Sweeney Todd" and, recently, "Kinky Boots."

Delightful food is part of the fun at the cabaret,
where play goers can enjoy fine dining, too. 

We saw the cabaret's production of that Tony Award-winning musical, and it didn't disappoint. The energetic production boasted the same high energy we'd enjoyed in the Broadway version, a touching tale of daring and determination. The Cabaret offered dazzling choreography, powerful acting and jazzy costuming with a first-rate cast.
The show's infectious, appealing spirit was enhanced by lively musical numbers.  
OREGON CABARET Theatre offers a historic, welcoming setting -- a beautiful small venue --  complemented by well staged productions and a tasty menu.  This appealing amalgam makes OCT a favorite for this reporter and thousands of other visitors to Ashland. Sets are clever, acting sharp, music tuneful and small space well used. Costumes, lighting, make-up all follow suit.
Kinky Boots (musical) - Wikipedia
The Cyndi Lauper musical, with
a Harvey Fierstein book, drew
raves at the cabaret this summer
Oregon Cabaret Theatre is an institution in
Ashland, just up a stroll up from Main Street.

Sure, this picturesque town is most famous for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. But don't overlook one of the country's most successful dinner theaters, Oregon Cabaret
The Cabaret presents an
interesting display of each
show with a miniature set
 and costume designs.

* * *

 BELOVED ACTOR, dancer and the Cabaret's founding member and artistic director for years, Jim Giancarlo, passed away in 2014. He is deeply missed, but artistic director and accomplished actor Valerie Rachelle took over with spirit and enterprise.  She has artfully preserved the vision of Giancarlo  promising "Our stage may be small, but the scope of our stories is large." She was a spectacular Mrs. Lovett in "Sweeney Todd" and knows her way around both sides of the footlights. She maintains the spirit and seating of the intimate house, giving viewers a bird's eye view of the action. We've seen dozens of top-drawer shows from all over the house.  We've sat on the ground floor, the balcony, and the bar, all good seats because of the clever tiering and seat and table arrangements. Sight lines are fine everywhere, thanks to Rachelle's keen understanding of the importance of audience connection.

*  *  *  
FOR PROXIMITY to the cabaret, you can't beat the lodging of Ashland Springs Hotel, just a few steps across the avenue and down to Ashland's Main Street, restored by an enterprising couple much as the Cabaret was renovated and returned to a glorious structure.

Front row seats give viewers proximity to
the action on stage, but the seating is such
that there are no bad views from the house.
  Hudson's  restoration of the one-time church has delighted thousands since the transformation.  It still reminds of its 1911 appearance, and the stained glass windows are kept sparklingly clean. The theater's unique appointments -- including that vintage crystal chandelier -- are part of the appeal, and the menu includes delectable appetizers, entrees and the famous Dick Hay pie, a decadent chocolate, ice cream and peanut butter dessert named after an OSF designer. If you missed "Kinky Boots," you can enjoy the Poirot mystery and popular Christmas show which round out the season.;

Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers
outside the Cabaret, with  their favorite
Ashland Springs Hotel behind them.


Christene "Cookie" Meyers is featured beneath a
magnificent Deborah Butterfield Horse, on display
at Honolulu Art Museum. Butterfield spends part of her
time in Montana and keeps a studio in Hawaii. 

UP NEXT: Honolulu is a favorite city of sun seekers and couples looking for a blend of beach fun and nightlife.  It also boasts an extraordinary art museum and we look at its impressive collection of more than 50,000 pieces spanning 5,000 years of culture in the Pacific, Asia, Africa and Europe. After Honolulu Art Museum, we're cavorting with the whales in Depoe Bay, Oregon, then blasting off to Kennedy Space Center. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on nature, travel, the arts, family and more:


  1. We've been fans and patrons since the 1980s. Never miss it when we're at OSF. Delightful venue.

  2. Oregon Cabaret Theatre never disappoints.

  3. Fun theater town, great food and scenery too.

  4. So fun to travel with you. A friend was an original investor in Kinky Boots, dear friend Hannelore C in Billings, Cabaret in Ashland, & D Butterfield in MT and parts west. Ihope you get enough rest and that you both stay healthy. So many connections. . .