James (Jim) Michael Giancarlo, Artistic Director, founding member and owner of Oregon Cabaret Theater in Ashland, Ore. passed away suddenly Sunday, August 6, 2014.
Born in Buffalo, N.Y., to Josephine and Louis Giancarlo, September 13, 1947, Jim graduated in Visual Arts from SUNY College at Buffalo. After graduating, he worked in Buffalo as a welfare case worker, writing poetry at night, before moving to San Francisco to pursue a career as a writer. Instead, he discovered in San Francisco his life's work: dance and theater. He studied dance, was part of an underground theatre company, "Trenchmouth Musical Productions", and used his humor and love of costume to create and preform in a wild variety of shows. In 1976, Jim came to Ashland to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to be a Greenshow dancer for the Elizabethan Tudor Fair. He worked at OSF for six seasons, dancing, acting, and finally choreographing shows, starting with "Three Penny Opera."
He moved his home base from San Francisco to Seattle in 1979, where he not only danced and choreographed, but also worked with other talented friends to create shows like "The Men Who Made Us Dance" and "The Texas Chainsaw Manicurist".
He returned to Ashland and choreographed the production of "Grease" at the Britt Festival that provided the seed for Oregon Cabaret Theatre's founding. By 1986, the Cabaret was started and he continued there, moving from founding member and choreographer, to Artistic Director, to owner, and he continued directing and choreographing until his passing August 6. At O.C.T., Jim directed and choreographed over 100 productions, writing 15 musicals and also performing in 5.
Jim was a devoted teacher and taught at Southern Oregon University since 1990, creating the Musical Theatre minor and teaching dance and musical theatre classes of many styles, as well as choreographing and directing shows for S.O.U.
Jim's love of beauty informed his life. He was a visual artist in many mediums, including collage, colored pencil, as well as jewelry and interior design. When he bought his home in Talent, he began to plant flowers, and soon found a love of gardening that surrounded his home with an incredible array of color, both inside and out.
His love of travel, which began with a journey to India while in college, continued through his life and inspired beautiful writings that provided a glimpse into his inner life.
Jim is survived by four siblings, Tom (Eileen) Giancarlo of Buffalo, N.Y., Paul (Mary Shaffer) Giancarlo of Ashland, Ore., LuAnn (Richard) Spula of Buffalo, N.Y., and JoAnn (Joseph) Mure of Broken Arrow, Okla.
He was a loving uncle to his nieces and nephews, Marie, Kelly, Joslyn, Adam, and Joey, and was a part of daily life for his twin nephews here in Ashland, Gabriel and Rio Giancarlo.
The memorial to celebrate a life that brought hundreds of artists together and brought joy to thousands of audience members will be held at 4:00 p.m. Monday, September 15, 2014 at the Angus Bowmer Theatre. The public is invited to attend.
The Jim Giancarlo Scholarship for a student "passionate about theatre and dance" has been started at Southern Oregon University. Donations can be sent to SOU Foundation, Attn: Jim Giancarlo Scholarship Fund, 1250 Siskiyou Boulevard, Ashland, Or. 97520.