Rick Robinson is one of those folks who love all things Christmas. For him, it’s truly the most wonderful time of the year. He’s unapologetic about his sentimentality.
Although Thanksgiving is still days away, Christmas carols are already playing throughout the Robinson home, and he’s looking forward to firing up “White Christmas” on television for his wife and daughter.
Robinson, however, has no problem poking fun at holiday traditions or taking liberties with beloved Christmas tales and carols in Oregon Cabaret Theatre’s upcoming production of “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some).”
Instead of performing Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” for “the umpteenth time,” the OCT troupe, like the actors in the story, will romp through humorous versions of Christmas stories such as “Frosty the Snowman,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Gift of the Magi,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and yes, “A Christmas Carol” too.
“‘Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)’ is a comic smorgasbord of stories and holiday carols, all told in a rapid-fire style by a hyperactive trio of actors,” says Robinson, who is directing the show.
It’s super-madcap holiday fare that includes music, carols, stories about strange Christmas traditions from around the world, and topical pop culture references, he adds.
You can catch a preview of “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)” at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20. The show opens Wednesday, Nov. 21, and runs through Dec. 31. Shows are at 8 p.m. every night but Tuesdays at the dinner theater, First and Hargadine streets, Ashland. Matinees are at 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays throughout the show’s run. A special post-Thanksgiving matinee is planned for 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23. The theater will be dark on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
Reservations are required for pre-show dinner or brunch. Appetizers, beverages, and desserts are available without reservations. Preview tickets are $25 for all seats. Tickets for other performances are $39 with limited $25 B-priced seating available for all performances. The Cabaret offers 20-percent discounts for groups of 12 or more. Student rush tickets may be purchased for $10 with a valid student identification 30 minutes before curtain. See oregoncabaret.com or call the box office at 541-488-2902 for tickets and information.
“Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)” was created by the three actors who first performed it — Michael Carleton, Jim FitzGerald and John K. Alvarez — in 2003 for the Cape May Stage in New Jersey. The Cabaret’s production is the regional premiere of the show.
“It’s a really brilliant piece and aims to hit you in the nostalgia bone,” Robinson says.
“The show has elements of all the classics we grew up on, and all the stories we know and love,” he adds.
Older audiences, Robinson says, will be taken back to the Rankin Bass stop-motion animation of the Fred Astaire-narrated “Frosty the Snowman,” the sweetness of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and the original, very green Grinch cartoon.
Robinson’s favorite part of the show is a mash-up of a classic movie and story: “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Carol.”
“We have fun playing off the similarity of both stories — the redemption of George Bailey and Ebenezer Scrooge — at full-on, madcap speed.”
The rest of the show is just as silly, and the humor just as broad.
“It’s a kitchen sink comedy that includes elements of audience participation, so it requires high-energy improvisational comedians,” Robinson says.
The cast includes Cabaret newcomer Eleise Moore and alums Stephen Kline and Katie Worley Beck as the three actors.
“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” opens the show. The company sings the song as they trim the stage in holiday style. Other musical highlights include a comedic send-up of “The Nutcracker Ballet,” “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” and a medley of every Christmas carol every sung arranged by Darcy Danielson.
The technical and design team includes costume designer Lauren Blair, set designer Christopher Burkhardt, lighting designer Kody Johnson, props designer Drew Bangs, and sound designer Kim Carbonne.
Although “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)” has a few moments of exaggerated comic violence and a reference to drinking alcohol, Robinson says the show is family-friendly.
“Were it a movie, it would be rated PG,” he says.