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Oregon Cabaret's 2020 season includes 'Full Monty, 'Steel Magnolias'

Fine dining can be found and fantastic plays abound at Oregon Cabaret Theatre, which has a powerful lineup for the coming season in Ashland that focuses on stories of community.

The theatre opens its 35th season with “Steel Magnolias,” playing from Jan. 30 through March 22, 2020.

Directed by Associate Artistic Director Galloway Stevens, the show is set in Truvy’s beauty salon in Chinquapin, La., where all the ladies who are anybody go to have their hair done. Helped by her eager new assistant, Annelle, the outspoken and wise-cracking Truvy dispenses shampoos and free advice to the town’s curmudgeon, Ouiser, an eccentric millionaire, Miss Clairee, and the local social leader, M’Lynn, whose daughter, Shelby, is about to marry. The excitement of the wedding quickly turns to concern as Shelby faces a risky pregnancy and a myriad of health complications.

“Steel Magnolias” debuted off-Broadway in 1987 and played to sold-out crowds before closing in 1990. It was adapted into the classic film starring Sally Fields, Julia Roberts, Shirley MacClaine, and Dolly Parton in 1989.

The Cabaret’s spring show will be a new version of the musical “The Spitfire Grill,” with each of the actors playing their own instruments onstage.

In the show, Percy, a parolee just released from prison, arrives in a small town in Wisconsin and finds a place for herself working at Hannah’s Spitfire Grill, the only eatery in a struggling town. It’s for sale, but there are no takers, so newcomer Percy suggests to Hannah that she raffle it off. The entry fees are $100 and an essay on why you want the grill.

“It’s a heartfelt musical about healing the wounds of the past and finding your chosen family,” says director Valerie Rachelle. “I directed the show at the PCPA (Pacific Conservatory Theatre) on the central coast of California, and it was one of those life-changing experiences. Audiences who loved “Once” are going to love the beauty and warmth of this piece.”

“The Spitfire Grill” opens on April 2, and plays through June 7, 2020.

Playing from June 18 to Sept. 6, 2020, the Cabaret continues its tradition of mounting a large cast summer musical with “The Full Monty.”

While spying on their wives at a “Girls’ Night Out,” a group of unemployed steelworkers from Buffalo see how much the women enjoy watching male strippers. Jealous, out of work, and feeling emasculated, the men come up with a bold and unclothed way to make some quick cash — a strip show of their own.

Based on the cult hit film of the same name, “The Full Monty,” a 10-time Tony Award nominee, is filled with honest affection, engaging melodies and the most highly anticipated closing number of any show. The show will be directed by Lauren Blair, the director of “Beehive” and the co-director of “Once,” and will feature an all-woman directing and design team.

The fourth show of the season will be “Poirot: Murder on the Links,” an adaptation by Rick Robinson of Agatha Christie’s second novel to feature the Belgian detective and his friend, Captain Hastings. Poirot arrives in France to find his client brutally murdered and lying face down in a shallow grave on a golf course. Before Poirot can find the murderer, the case is turned upside down by the discovery of a second, identically murdered corpse.

“Like all of her Poirot stories, Agatha Christie has laid out a labyrinthine mystery in ‘Links,’ ” says adapter and Cabaret managing director Rick Robinson, “one that will have people guessing who the killer is until the final scene.”

“Poirot: Murder on the Links,” directed by Todd Nielsen, who directed “Million Dollar Quartet,” will run from Sept. 17 through Nov. 8.

The Cabaret will finish its season with the holiday musical “White Christmas,” running from Nov. 19 to Dec. 31.

The story follows veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis who have a successful song-and-dance act after World War II. With romance in mind, the two follow a duo of beautiful singing sisters en route to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge, which just happens to be owned by Bob and Phil’s former Army commander, who is in desperate need of help with his struggling lodge.

The score features well known Irving Berlin standards including “Blue Skies,” “I Love A Piano,” “How Deep Is the Ocean” and the perennial favorite, “White Christmas.”

“This is my absolute favorite holiday classic — I adore the story, the old-fashioned romance, the Irving Berlin score. It’s the perfect holiday entertainment, and I can’t wait to bring it to Rogue Valley audiences,” says Rachelle. “I watch the movie every year after Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a rite of passage into the holiday season for my family.”

“Our theme for our 2020 season is community,” says Stevens “It’s what unifies these stories we’re telling. Great achievements are more likely accomplished when tackled together, as a collective. This is what we hope to honor in our 2020 season.”

OCT will not be raising ticket prices in 2020. Ticket prices for “Steel Magnolias” and “Poirot: Murder on the Links” range from $25 to $39. Tickets for “The Spitfire Grill,” “The Full Monty” and “White Christmas” are $29 to $43, and group rates are available.

The Cabaret continues to offer a fine dining experience to go with your live theatre, featuring a full menu of starters, dinners, brunches, beer, wine, beverages and desserts. Reservations are required for dinner or brunch. Food and beverages are not included in the ticket price.

The theatre and box office is located at the corner of First and Hargadine streets in Ashland. For tickets and further information, see oregoncabaret.com or call 541 488-2902.

Singers Tamara Daly, left, Carrie Lyn Brandon, Asha Brownie-Gordon, Kristen Calvin and Shae Celine perform in Oregon Cabaret Theatre's 2019 production of "Beehive: The '60s Musical." Photo by Bryon DeVore