written by Anna Bird | photos courtesy of Cabaret Eugene


Have you ever thought your cocktail or dinner could use a little extra spice? Add a dash of cabaret in Eugene or Ashland and your meal will be anything but bland.

Cabaret has roots in Europe in the 1800s, becoming a prominent piece of American culture during the 1920s. Cabaret blends comedy, music and dance in a dinner theater experience. Performances often dabble in political satire or social commentary, while drinking in the whimsy and decadence of the Roaring ’20s.

While cabaret was a rousing success in its heyday, traditional cabaret disappeared from the cultural landscape during the rise of television. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, cabaret experienced a resurgence. By the mid-1980s, cabaret flapped through scores of New York City clubs.

A long way from New York, the Oregon Cabaret Theater (OCT) was formed in 1986 in Ashland’s First Baptist Church. A natural fit in Ashland’s theatrical landscape, OCT has grown steadily over the past thirty years and now presents more than 270 performances every season. In traditional cabaret fashion, the OCT offers food and drinks. This spring, for example, you can enjoy a broiled filet mignon with oregonzola scalloped potatoes while watching Ring of Fire, a musical from the iconic Johnny Cash repertoire.

“People know they’ll eat well, they’ll get live music and watch professional talent in this beautiful old vintage space,” said Rick Robinson, managing director of OCT. “It’s a good counterpoint to the offerings of the world-class theater down the street.”

The Actors Cabaret of Eugene, a nonprofit performing arts organization in downtown Eugene, has been around since 1978. Its winter production of Disenchanted, a musical comedy about fed-up Disney princesses, received rave reviews for its bawdy take on antiquated classics.

Both shows get you more bang for your buck than the average restaurant or bar. It’s a kick in the pants…and all that jazz.

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