Jim Giancarlo (1947-2014)

September 3, 2014

James (Jim) Michael Giancarlo, Artistic Director, founding member and owner of Oregon Cabaret Theatre in Ashland, passed away suddenly August 6, 2014.

Born in Buffalo, NY, to Josephine and Louis Giancarlo, Sept. 13, 1947, Jim graduated in Visual Arts from SUNY College at Buffalo. After graduation, he worked in Buffalo as a welfare case worker, writing poetry at night, before moving to San Francisco to pursue a career as a writer. Instead, he discovered in San Francisco his life’s work: dance and theatre. He studied dance, was part of an underground theatre company, “Trenchmouth Musical Productions”, and used his humor and love of costume to create and perform in a wild variety of shows. In 1976, Jim came to Ashland to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to be a Greenshow dancer for the Elizabethan Tudor Fair. He worked at OSF for 6 seasons, dancing, acting and finally choreographing shows, starting with “Three Penny Opera.”

He moved his home base from San Francisco to Seattle in 1979, where he not only danced and choreographed, but also worked with other talented friends to create shows like “The Men Who Made Us Dance” and “The Texas Chainsaw Manicurist”.   


He returned to Ashland and choreographed the production of “Grease” at the Britt Festival that provided the seed for Oregon Cabaret Theatre’s founding. By 1986, the Cabaret was started and he continued there, moving from founding member and choreographer, to Artistic Director, to owner, and he continuing directing and choreographing until his passing August 6. At OCT, Jim directed and choreographed over 100 productions, writing 15 musicals and also performing in 5.

Jim was a devoted teacher and taught at Southern Oregon University since 1990, creating the Musical Theatre minor and teaching dance and musical theatre classes of many styles, choreographing and directing shows for SOU as well.


Jim’s love of beauty informed his life. He was a visual artist in many mediums, including collage, colored pencil, as well as jewelry and interior design. When he bought his home in Talent, he began to plant flowers, and soon found a love of gardening that surrounded his home with an incredible array of color, both inside and out.

His love of travel, which began with a journey to India while in college, continued through his life and inspired beautiful writings that provide a glimpse into his inner life.   


Jim is survived by four siblings: Tom (Eileen) Giancarlo, Buffalo, NY; Paul (Mary Shaffer) Giancarlo, Ashland, OR; LuAnn (Richard) Spula, Buffalo; JoAnn (Joseph) Muré, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.


He was a loving uncle to his nieces and nephews: Marie, Kelly, Joslyn, Adam and Joey, and was a part of daily life for his twin nephews here in Ashland, Gabriel and Rio Giancarlo.

The memorial to celebrate a life that brought hundreds of theatre artists together and brought joy to thousands of audience members will be held at the Angus Bowmer Theatre, Monday, September 15, 4:00. The public is invited to attend.

The Jim Giancarlo Scholarship for a student “passionate about theatre and dance” has been started at Southern Oregon University. Donations can be sent to  SOU Foundation, Attn: Jim Giancarlo Scholarship Fund, 1250 Siskiyou Boulevard, Ashland, OR 97520.



*Please note that obituaries are reader submitted and are not fact-checked for content.

*Please note that obituaries are reader submitted and are not fact checked for content. – See more at: http://dancemagazine.com/in_memoriam/5895#sthash.W227ecbO.dpuf