Kymberli Colbourne plays Mae West in Oregon Cabaret Theatre's production of 'Song & Dance.' - Photo courtesy of Christopher Briscoe

Classic show business

Great songs, dance and comedy — the best from the tradition of American show business — take the spotlight in Oregon Cabaret Theatre's new stage production, "Song & Dance."

"The title pretty much says it all," says OCT Artistic Director Jim Giancarlo. "We have established a genesis of American entertainment."

"Song & Dance" opens Friday, Sept. 7, and features OCT performers Christopher George Patterson and Kymberli Colbourne in a celebration of the country's foremost composers, dancers and singers. Musical direction is by John Taylor, and Giancarlo directs. Set and lighting design are by Craig Hudson, and costume design is by Kerri Lea Robbins.

The show previews Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 5-6. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays and at 1 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 4.

Dancer Patterson and vocalist Colbourne begin the show with a nod to vaudeville, the source of traditional show business. Vaudeville reflected the culture of America in the early 1900s as immigration jumped after the Great Depression.

This tribute moves through the careers of such entertainers as Bert Williams, Fanny Brice and Mae West.

Williams was a successful recording artist, comedian and vaudeville star, and he was key in the development of African-American entertainment — becoming the first black man to take a lead role on Broadway. Critics called Williams "one of the great comedians of the world," and fellow vaudevillian W.C. Fields called him "the funniest man I ever saw ... and the saddest man I ever knew."

"Then Christopher and Kymberli play it forward into mid-century artists like Patsy Cline, Fred Astaire, Cy Coleman and Bob Fosse," Giancarlo says. "The show also weaves the actors' personal stories into the fabric of American show business."

Colbourne grew up in Texas. She started singing after she heard Cline on the radio, then learned piano. Patterson is from New Jersey. When he was a teen, one of his teachers introduced him to tap dancer Buster Brown, and he began regular classes with him.

"Brown was an 'old-schooler,' " Giancarlo says. "Tap is an art form that got its start in America in the early 20th century, and Brown and others like him helped to develop the style."

This original OCT production was created by Giancarlo and the performers.

"Most of the material came from Christopher and Kymberli," Giancarlo says. "John and I asked them what they would most love to do, and it's centered around them and their abilities. There's a bit of a story line, not so much of a plot. In the end, it's all about doing a lot of great songs and dancing."

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

Visit the box office, see www.oregoncabaret.com or call 541-488-2902 to purchase tickets. Gourmet dinners are available at 6:30 p.m. for evening shows, and brunch is available at 11:30 a.m. for Sunday matinees. Ticket prices do not include food or beverages. Passes for any three of OCT's season productions are available for $87.

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