'Heartfelt and fun'

Santa's missing, and the Marvelous Wonderettes urgently need to find him to save the holiday party.

"The Winter Wonderettes," a new '60s-themed, Christmas musical opening Friday, Nov. 16, at the Oregon Cabaret Theatre, is a sequel to the summer 2011 hit Cabaret show "The Marvelous Wonderettes." We pick up where we left off with the Wonderettes — Cindy Lou, Betty Jean, Missy and Suzy — a few months after their 10-year high-school reunion.

"This is a heartfelt, fun, Christmas show," says director and choreographer Valerie Rachelle. "It not only has great music, but it also has a good plot line with some nice emotional journeys for the characters."

The show previews Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 14-15, opens Friday, Nov. 16, and runs through Dec. 31, except Nov. 19, 22 and 26-27 and Dec. 3-4, 10-11 and 24-25. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays, and matinees will be at 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Preview tickets cost $19. Other tickets cost $32 for weeknights, $36 for Fridays and Saturdays, $30 for Saturday and Sunday matinees and $26 for Sunday evenings. Bistro seating is available for $18.

Reprising their Wonderette roles are Shae Johnson as the ditsy Suzy and Audra Cramer as the sensible Missy. In 2011, Johnson played Debbie Reynolds in Cabaret's production of "What a Glorious Feeling," and earlier this year, Cramer was musical director and pianist for "Let's Misbehave: The Songs of Cole Porter."

Katie Worley, featured as Jeanne Coyne in "What a Glorious Feeling," plays beauty queen Cindy Lou. Jillian Van Neil makes her Cabaret debut as Cindy Lou's nemesis, Betty Jean.

"I especially love my character, Missy," Cramer says. "I think of it as bringing out my 'inner dork.' My interaction with the audience makes each performance exciting and different."

Featured songs include "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," "Jingle Bell Rock," "The Man With the Bag," "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town," "Santa Baby," "Mele Kalikimaka," "Sleigh Ride" and "Run, Rudolph, Run."

"Winter Wonderettes" was created and written by Roger Bean, well-known for his "jukebox musicals," including earlier Cabaret productions "Route 66" (2002), "Honky Tonk Laundry" (2006) and this year's "Life Could Be a Dream."

Rachelle makes her Cabaret debut as director and choreographer of "Winter Wonderettes."

Dinner is available at 6:30 p.m. for evening shows, and brunch is available at 11:30 a.m. for Saturday and Sunday matinees. Appetizers, beverages and desserts are available during intermission at all performances.

A dinner-theater package will be available for the New Year's Eve performance Dec. 31.

For reservations and tickets, call 541-488-2902 or see www.oregoncabaret.com.

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