Reviewed by Judy Richter
Popular music is so closely woven into the fabric of an era that hearing hit songs from that time can evoke vivid memories. Such is the case with Carole King, whose songs from the '60s and '70s reflect such phenomena as dances ("The Loco-Motion") and social movements ("Natural Woman"). Oregon Cabaret Theatre in Ashland brings those times and phenomena to life in its production of "Tapestry: The Songs of Carole King."
Conceived and created for the stage by Rowan Joseph, John Kroner and Jeffrey Martin, "Tapestry" is a revue of the songs for which King wrote both music and lyrics and those for which her then-husband, Gerry Goffin, or others were the lyricists. OCT managing artistic director Jim Giancarlo, who serves as director and choreographer, has given it a flow that goes beyond mere revue by setting it in front of a red brick apartment house in Manhattan and portraying the three-man, three-woman cast as tenants who have become good friends and/or lovers. Thus the songs illustrate the changing dynamics among the six in the fall of 1967 and in 1974.
The lineup includes such hits as "Where You Lead," "Up on the Roof," "It's Too Late," "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," "I'm Into Something Good," "Go Away Little Girl," "One Fine Day," "You've Got a Friend", the title song and others.
The appealing young performers invest energy and conviction in their portrayals while developing a strong sense of ensemble. They also sing well and usually blend well. The standout among them is Marc Swan, who has a winning smile and a low-key presence to go with his pleasing tenor. His colleagues are Jessica Blaszak, Nicole Boote (who supplies additional choreography), Jimmy L. Garcia, Michele Gray and Calebl Reese.
Music director Jay Wright also plays keyboards in the three-man band. The period-evocative costumes are by Kerri Lea Robbins with the set by Craig Hudson, lighting by Hudson and Michael Stanfill, and sound by Frank Sullivan.
Now in its 20th season, OCT is a dinner theater that operates in a former church only a block from the famed Oregon Shakespeare Festival in downtown Ashland. It's popular with locals as well as visitors because of its polished productions. Patrons have the option of attending the show only, or they may arrive 90 minutes early and have dinner or brunch, choosing from a full menu of dishes featuring fresh seasonal ingredients carefully prepared by executive chef Douglas O. Todd. Dessert is served at intermission. Patrons also may skip the meal but order drinks.
It's a most pleasant, entertaining way to spend an evening in a relaxing setting.