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Jill Anderson, right, and Ginger Bess Simons

Songs and soap mix together in

Honky Tonk Laundry

Cabaret Theatre kicks off its 20th Anniversary season with &

Honky Tonk Laundry,&

a new country musical written by Roger Bean, creator of OCT&

s 2002 show &

Route 66.&

&

Honky Tonk Laundry&

opens at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, with low-priced previews on Wednesday, Feb. 1, and Thursday, Feb. 2 at OCT, First St. and Hargadine in Ashland. The show plays at 8 p.m. Thursday &

Monday, with brunch matinees at — p.m. Sunday until April 2.

Lana Mae Hopkins runs the Wishy Washy Washeteria single-handedly, 7 days a week, 12 months a year. Her husband Earl would rather drink beer than fix that dryer that&

s been broken for many months.

In walks a frazzled Katie Lane, on her way to a job interview and desperate to get her blouse cleaned after a mishap with a Krispy Kreme. Katie has man troubles as well as trouble keeping a job. The two women bond. Lana Mae needs some help, Katie needs a job and soon Katie begins working for Lana Mae.

The two women share their problems and hopes as they work along side each other, singing country music songs the whole time. Lana Mae confides that she&

s always had a dream to be a Nashville singing star. Before you know it the two have turned the Wishy Washy into the Grand Ole Laundry and are putting on a show.

&

It&

s fairly farcical,&

says Jill Anderson, who plays Lana Mae. &

It&

s intended to be entertainment, but that doesn&

t mean there are great moments of poignancy.&

The two women each have a deep need for companionship, she says.

Anderson is also the director of the show. She was recently seen at OCT in &

Five Course Love.&

Ginger Bess Simons, who plays Katie, comes to the Cabaret from Salt Lake City. She has starred in &

Little Shop of Horrors,&

&

Carousel,&

&

Man of La Mancha&

and &

Jesus Christ Superstar.&

Anderson has worked with Simons before and credits her with having &

great comedy chops.&

The show is a framework to hang the songs onto, Anderson says. And the songs run the gamut of country music from classic to contemporary, says OCT artistic director Jim Giancarlo. Tunes like &

I Fall To Pieces,&

&

I Will Always Love You&

and &

Stand Your Man&

from Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn join songs from newer artists like Martina McBride, Lee Ann Rimes and the Dixie Chicks. All the songs come from female country artists, and the majority of them were written by Dolly Parton.

&

I&

ve really grown to love the songs,&

Anderson said, They&

re really infectious.&

Musical direction is by Darcy Danielson. The band is prerecorded to allow for a full country music sound, moving toward rock and pop rock. The songs are woven into the narrative of the show, which is a play and not a revue, Giancarlo says. There is a storyline and character development and the songs and dialogue help make the characters into full people.

Set design is by Craig Hudson, costume design by Kerri Lea Robbins, wig design by Victoria King and sound design by Frank Sullivan. The stage manager is Kathleen Mahoney.

OCT offers gourmet dinners and brunch with advance reservations. Appetizers, desserts, beer, wine and other beverages are also available without reservations. The food will have a country theme which Giancarlo describes as &

gourmet comfort food.&

Tickets for &

Honky Tonk Laundry&

cost $19-$27 with preview tickets at $17 and are available at the OCT box office. Call 488 2902 after 11 a.m. Closed Tuesdays.