'Ali Baba'

From a dust storm on the Sahara appears Scheherazade, the immortal queen of all storytellers, and maker of myths. As fate would have it, Ali Baba, a disgraced "prince" on a hero quest, meets Scheherazade and ancient tales are told.

Oregon Cabaret Theatre's Christmas Panto, "Ali Baba," is a clever cosmic extravaganza performed by a stellar cast.

Pasha Poobah (Scott Ford) plans world domination. He must hoard the "fuel of the universe" to sap the strength of the world, bring it to its knees, and take over.

Lost in the Sahara desert and looking for work are "shifty-eyed and surly" Fish (Dolan Wolf-Callanta) and his "plucky and namby-pamby" sidekick, Chip (Galen Schloming). The "two nasty brutes" are hired by Pasha Poobah to collect back rent.

The alluring widow, Ruby Twanky (Mark Barsekian), is in arrears to the Pasha with her Bedouin breakfast. Ruby is flanked by her fetching daughter, Pearl, an intelligent though mute modern dancer.

Scheherazade (Jessica Price) spins the tale, intervening when she can, and playing Cupid when she must. She propels the proceedings with a magic lamp, a genie and a lipsticked, dancing camel.

Ali Baba (Sam Weber) arrives to rescue the damsels. Evil is abated, and, with high spirits, high stepping and song, romance blooms at the Oasis.

Brilliant and memorable melodies composed by Darcy Danielson and Jim Malachi were adapted from Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade."

The book with lyrics by Jim Giancarlo engages the audience in a witty and hilarious musical romp.

Colorful lighting designed by Ben Brown sets off the iconic set designed by Michael Halderman: White clouds and palm trees surround the exotic and colorful environs.

Shimmering costumes designed by Kerri Lea Robbins are veiled and draped in rich fabrics and embroidered with gold, crystals and pearls.

Two adorable children sat near us dressed in their holiday best. Entertained and engrossed in the frolicking Panto, (England's music hall version of pantomime) they smiled quietly as they tasted their sumptuous ice cream deserts.

Remaining "Ali Baba" nightly perfomances at 8 p.m. are Nov. 24 and 27, and Dec. 2, 9, 16, 24 and 25. There are also Sunday brunch matinees at 1 p.m. Tickets are $19-$31. Box office is at First and Hargadine streets in Ashland; order by phone at 488-2902 (after 11 a.m.); or visit the Cabaret's Web site: www.oregoncabaret.com. Dinner and brunch are available with advance reservations. Appetizers, desserts and beverages are also available without reservations.

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