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Blue Moon Burlesque- a review

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By PAM WRIGHT/for The Herald  —  I arrived at the new Zero Clearance Theater at 6:15 pm to get a good seat and was surprised to see the venue was already 1/4 full. Excited party goers had filled some of the black draped tables closest to the stage. Others had chosen to sit in the row seats towards the back. One row of ladies looked especially glamorous, wearing their best and happily waiting to hoot, holler, and cheer for their favorite performers, talking to each other to pass the time.

I also saw a lot of plaid flannel, on both men and women, blue jeans, beanie caps, sweatshirts, skirts, high boots, and tennis shoes. Anything goes here because, despite looking and sounding like a Las Vegas night club, it’s still Oakridge.

This is burlesque, as the jazzy background music kept reminding us, so we were expecting to see some skin. What I didn’t expect was also to see incredible skill and agility, a little risqué, not so much as to send your grandma into a fit of the vapors, but enough to be rated a solid R.

Let the show begin!

I will admit to being a little jealous of the dancers who could actually bend their knees at more than a 90 degree angle, and then pop up again without the aid of a nearby chair. Oo la la! Our emcee (madam) for the night was both charming and bawdy. Dressed in white, sporting a sparkly tiara and fluffy boa, she introduced each of the performers, but not before entertaining us with a joke. “Do you know what I call a man in handcuffs? Trustworthy!” Ha!

A musical like no other

One of the performers, Erika Stalcup, also known as Ms. Merica, delighted and awed us with her big voice. She sang a favorite song, “Blue”, originally made famous by Leann Rimes, though I think Erika sang it better. Many of the songs I recognized…..”Say That You Love Me”, “Why Don’t You Do Right”, and “Brand New Key”. The latter song was surprising in a burlesque show, but totally worked as the performer displayed her exceptional talents, on wheels. A trio of apron clad, and not much else, housewives danced to “I Just Want to Make Love To You“, (every husband’s dream).

In between dancing, we were entertained by Molly McCutchen in the kitchen, Emile Green and his stand-up bass, and special guests, Laurel and Hardy. The multi-talented Chelsea Rhule sang “Blue Moon“, decked out in a blue sparkly dress and danced to the song “Fever“, bringing the house down in her black corset, black stockings, and red sequined hot pants. There were many other performers including Becky Chamberlain, who enthralled us by singing “I Want To Be Evil”.

Director Loren Michaels comes through with a blockbuster

Director and Technical Director, Loren Christopher Michaels, said he had wanted to “bring something new to Oakridge and to give a lot of people who had never been on stage, that opportunity.” Michaels said, “we have a total of 25 cast and crew and it was primarily due to Assistant Director, Lead Choreographer, and Co-Writer Chelsea Rhule” that this production is as good as it is. “She has pulled this whole production together.” He was also excited to premier the new Zero Clearance Theater, giving all the credit to Jacqui Lomont, owner of the Lion Mountain Bakery. “The main driving force and the person who is responsible for us even having a home is Jacqui Lomont. There isn’t a bakery in the world that also has a full theater in it. She has done everything for Zero Clearance Theater,” he said.

Oakridge is a community with close ties to logging, though now more frequently known for having the worst air quality in the country. So it was refreshing and energizing to celebrate the end of a dreadful autumn by seeing local residents cheering and clapping for their neighbors. One attendee was overheard saying, “It’s a stitch. I love it!”

Tickets are still available but going fast

The next performances are Friday, November 18th, and Saturday, November 19th. Friday’s performance is already sold out. Advance tickets for Saturday are available at Lion Mountain Bakery, Oakridge Pharmacy, and Three-Legged Crane. Margaritas, ales, hard ciders, and appetizers will be available for purchase at the theater.

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