When Oregon Cabaret Theatre presented "The Marvelous Wonderettes" in 2011, audiences responded so well to the musical's characters that Artistic Director Jim Giancarlo thought it would be a no-brainer to stage "Winter Wonderettes," the holiday version of playwright Roger Bean's story.
"We knew people would want to see those characters again," Giancarlo says. "Bean's got a knack for keeping things simple and fun, creating endearing characters and combining those things with good songs — a lot of which are familiar to people. It's a good formula.
What: "Winter Wonderettes"
When: Friday through Sunday, Dec. 21-23, and Wednesday through Monday, Dec. 26-31
Where: Oregon Cabaret Theatre, First and Hargadine streets, Ashland
Tickets: $18 to $36
Call: 541-488-2902 or see www.oregoncabaret.com
"He's created what's called a successful franchise, such as the 'Nunsense,' 'Forever Plaid' and 'Greater Tuna' shows."
OCT staged "Life Could Be a Dream," a sequel to "Marvelous Wonderettes," this summer. It also staged Bean's "Route 66" in 2002 and "Honky Tonk Laundry" in 2006. Bean directed OCT's "Route 66."
"It was a big hit," Giancarlo says. "All of Bean's shows have done well here."
Audiences first met Suzy, Missy, Cindy Lou and Betty Jean in "The Marvelous Wonderettes." The first act is set in 1958, the second in 1968 at the girls' high-school reunion. "Winter Wonderettes" takes place later that same year.
Local actresses Shae Johnson and Audra Cramer reprise their roles as Suzy and Missy, respectively, in OCT's "Winter Wonderettes." Katie Worley plays Cindy Lou, and Jillian Van Neil debuts at the theater as Betty Jean.
"Suzy is the ditsy blonde," Giancarlo says. "She's dizzy but endearing. Missy is more of a kind of take-charge person. She is the organizer and gets things done. Cindy Lou is the glamor girl, and Betty Jean is the funny one. Audiences have really fallen in love with them."
The girls have planned entertainment for a Christmas party at the hardware store where Betty Jean has worked for the past 10 years. Laughs ensue when Santa misses his cue to appear onstage. The show is packed with festive tunes.
"There's a good balance of familiar holiday songs and some surprises," Giancarlo says.
Songs on the bill include "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," "Jingle Bell Rock," "The Man With the Bag" and "Santa Baby," among others. Valerie Rachelle directs and choreographs the show.
Seating availability for "Winter Wonderettes" is scant until after Christmas. Performances are set for 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Dec. 21-23, and Wednesday through Monday, Dec. 26-31. Matinees are set for 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 22-23 and Dec. 29-30.
Tickets cost $32 for weeknights, $36 for Fridays and Saturdays, $30 for Saturday and Sunday matinees and $26 for Sunday evenings. Bistro seating is available for $18. Dinner is available at 6:30 p.m. for evening shows, and brunch is available at 11:30 a.m. for Sunday matinees. Ticket prices do not include food or beverages.
Call 541-488-2902 or see www.oregoncabaret.com.
Gift certificates for theater lovers are available at OCT and can be redeemed for tickets, food, beverages and season subscriptions.
Subscriptions are available for OCT's 2013 season of shows. An anytime subscription costs $145 for five shows; weeknight subscriptions cost $132 for five shows; and matinee subscriptions cost $125 for five shows. Flex passes are $87 for any three shows.
The 2013 season includes "A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline," a look at the singer's rise to stardom, and runs Feb. 8 through March 24; "Dogpark the Musical," a charming, funny show created by Jahanna Beecham, Malcom Hillgartner and Michael J. Hume, will run April 5 through May 26; "Nunsensations: The Nunsense Las Vegas Revue," June 7 through Aug. 25; " 'S Wonderful," a new musical celebrating the music and lyrics of George and Ira Gershwin, Sept. 6 through Nov. 3; and "The Wizard of Panto-Land" is back Nov. 15 through Dec. 31.