MEDFORD, Ore. – Hoping for the best, the Oregon Cabaret Theatre in Ashland has announced its planned performance schedule for 2021.
The season opener, assuming the Covic-19 pandemic allows, will “The Spitfire Grill, which was set to premiere last April but wasn’t performed before it could open. It is scheduled to run Feb. 25 through April 18.
“Spitfire” focuses on Percy, a just released from prison parolee who arrives in a small Wisconsin town and finds herself a job working at Hannah’s Spitfire Grill, the only eatery in a struggling town. The grill is for sale but there are no takers, so newcomer Percy suggests to Hannah that she raffle it off. The entry fee is $100 and an essay on “why you want the grill.”
“We were ready to go when the pandemic hit,” said director Valeria Rachelle. “The set was built, the actors were ready, and I just felt like this story — the story of re-birth and a town coming alive again was the perfect way to start our 36th season. It’s moving and heartfelt with a beautiful score. Our version features actors playing their own instruments on stage, which has not been done before.”
The Cabaret’s spring show will be the musical comedy, “The Great American Trailer Park Musical.” In the show, a new tenant arrives at Armadillo Acres, Florida’s most exclusive trailer park. When Pippi, a stripper on the run, comes between Jeannie and her tollbooth collector husband, Phil, troubles begin.
“I think that we can all agree that in the year 2021, we are going to need to share a good laugh,” said Cabaret associate artistic director Galloway Stevens. “I had the privilege of seeing the show a few times in Florida and it provides so many laugh-out-loud, belly-rolling moments. Absolutely pure escapist fun.” “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” will open April 29 and play to June 20.
Offered July 1 to Sept. 5 is a musical tribute to a rock ‘n roll legend Buddy Holly in “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.” Set between 1956 and 1959, the musical traces his early rise to fame with the Crickets to the night the music died, when he was killed in an airplane crash. Featuring hit songs like “That’ll be the Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “La Bamba,” and “Johnny B. Goode,” Buddy celebrates the lives lost on that fateful night and the lasting impact he had on music.
Performing Sept. 16 to Nov. 7 will be the Cabaret’s fourth show of the season, one originally planned for the fall of 2020, is “Poirot: Murder on the Links, an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s second novel that featured the iconic Belgian detective.
In the play, Poirot arrives in France to find his client brutally murdered and lying face down in a shallow grave on a golf course. Before he can find the murderer, the case is turned upside down by the discovery of a second, identically murdered corpse.
“It was heartbreaking to have to cancel this show we had worked so hard on in 2020, and we heard from so many people that were disappointed they didn’t get to see it. The upside is we have some more time to work on the piece,” said adapter and Cabaret managing director Rick Robinson. “We had a workshop of the show early in 2020, and so many good things fell out of it and now there’s a full year to really polish the script so we’re ready to present it when this theatre is full again next September.”
The Cabaret will finish its season with a world premiere play by playwright Carlos Zenin-Trujillo, “Christmas, Contigo”, from Nov. 18 to Dec. 31. For Iris Delgado Piñeira, the holidays mean returning to her family home in Hialeah with a surprise, her boyfriend and soon to be fiancé, Bryan.
“The Cabaret invites you to join the Delgado-Piñeiras as they fall in love, reconnect, rediscover traditions, and prepare a Noche Buena for the ages. It’s a show about family, about the immigrant experience, about what we forget, and what we remember,” said playwright and Southern Oregon University graduate Zenin-Trujillo. “It’s a show about all of the trials and tribulations that go into creating a Cuban Christmas.”
“Our themes for our 2021 season are hope and resilience,” said Galloway Stevens, a frequent Cabaret performer and director. “There’s a light at the end of this tunnel and we hope to meet our audiences there in 2021.”
On Handling of COVID Restrictions
The Oregon Cabaret will open its doors on Feb. 25, if allowed by state and local governments. The management will continue its policy of “exceeding state mandates regarding cleanliness, safety and mask protocol to keep employees and audiences safe.”
“We’re moving forward with optimism,” said managing director Rich Robinson. “We were able to complete runs of “The Odd Couple” and our Cabaret Series without incident in a socially distanced venue from July through early November. We’ll be ready to do so again at the end of February 2021.”
Robinson said seats will be sold on a social distance pattern for first three shows with the goal and hope of opening to full capacity for the fall and winter productions. “2020 has been a trying year at work for the Cabaret box office staff,” he admitted.