Oregon Cabaret’s new owners are wife-husband team

By Roberta Kent
for the Mail Tribune
Posted Oct. 6, 2014 @ 1:16 pm
Updated Oct 6, 2014 at 5:41 PM

The Oregon Cabaret Theatre has new owners. Veteran theater director Valerie Rachelle, 38, and her husband, producer-designer Rick Robinson, 40, closed the purchase of the Ashland company on Oct. 1. Rachelle will become the new artistic director, and Robinson will be the managing director.
Rachelle, who directed the Cabaret’s production of “The Winter Wonderettes” in 2012, began discussions with owner Jim Giancarlo last spring. Giancarlo accepted Rachelle’s offer on July 30 and was scheduled to sign documents on Aug. 5, when he suddenly became ill and died. Rachelle and Robinson completed the purchase with the cooperation of Giancarlo’s family, especially Ashland resident Paul Giancarlo.
Rachelle and Robinson have a 10-year lease with the theater building’s owner, Craig Hudson.
“Jim’s goal was to keep the Cabaret an elegant party,” said Rachelle. “I am very excited and very blessed that Jim trusted us to carry on.”
She said she and Robinson would continue the cabaret format with dinner-theater seating and food service.
Rachelle, originally from Eugene, is a freelance director and choreographer who has directed more than 60 plays and musicals on the West Coast. She was resident casting director, director and choreographer for four years at PCPA Conservatory Theatre in Santa Maria, California, and has been a resident director/choreographer at the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre in Logan, Utah.
Robinson, with Rachelle, is a founding producer of Lucid by Proxy, a Los Angeles theater company, and has worked as a playwright, actor, screenwriter and film director. He has had eight plays produced in Los Angeles, created award-winning online series and designed commercial websites and online projects.
Rachelle and Robinson have planned the 2015 schedule, with Rachelle directing and choreographing the productions the first year. In addition to five shows, the Cabaret will introduce a “One Night Only” series, featuring live music and cabaret performances on six Wednesday nights throughout the season.
“We plan to bring live music back and use local talent,” said Rachelle. “We are also planning to use live music in pre-show performances.”
The Cabaret’s first 2015 production, opening Valentine’s Day weekend, will be “Dames at Sea,” the show that started the Cabaret 30 years ago. Veteran Cabaret performers Jessica Blaszak and Jillian Van Niel will star in this perky modern take on 1930’s musicals.
“The Musical of Musicals (The Musical)” will open April 8. It is a satire of musical theater styles, featuring five mini-musicals, each written in the styles of Rogers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber or Kander & Ebb.
Then the Cabaret will turn into Berlin’s Nazi-era Kit Kat Club on May 28 with Kander & Ebb’s multiple Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Cabaret.”
“The 39 Steps,” opening Sept. 10, is a rapid-paced spoof of Hitchcock’s spy thriller. A cast of four actors plays 150 characters (including inanimate objects) in a who-dun-it that includes an onstage plane crash and a chase on top of moving train cars.
The 2015 season will close with Rick Robinson’s musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Ebenezer Scrooge will be haunted by Christmas spirits of the past, present and future beginning Nov. 19.
The “One Night Only” series will showcase local rock/blues band the Rogue Suspects on Feb. 18; dancer Christopher George Patterson on March 11; Broadway actress Lexy Fridell from “Avenue Q” on April 15; “America’s Got Talent” finalist Sarah Orr in a two-woman cabaret act with Valerie Rachelle on May 6; comedian/songstress Lisa Koch on Sept. 23; and mezzo-soprano Jessica Medoff on Oct. 21.
For ticket information, call 541-488-2902 or see http://theoregoncabaret.com
Roberta Kent is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at [email protected].

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