Gilligan and Gang Make Merry at Mall

by Molly Gilmore

Even after all these years, Gilligan needs no explanation. The Skipper’s little buddy, focus of the late ’60s sitcom Gilligan’s Island, doesn’t even need a second name. (Was Gilligan his first name or his last?) So enduring is the show’s popularity that Olympia’s new WineBox Theatre — the grownup wing of Juice Box Theatre — is paying homage to the three-hour tour with Island Castaway Christmas.

Peeking out of the portholes are, left to right: Kam Bustetter as Gilligan, John Serembe as the Skipper, Heather Christopher as Ginger, Kate Anders as Mary Ann, Kim Holm as Lovey, Michael Christopher as the Professor and Russ Holm as Thurston Howell III.

The show, on stage Dec. 15 and 16, is a fundraiser for Juice Box, which creates monthly snack-size shows for children 6 and younger. The company’s Kate Ayers, who adapts fairy tales and folk tales for the kids’ shows, gave the sitcom the same treatment.

“I was thinking of what people would like and what would be fun to put together,” Ayers said. “It’s full of nostalgia, and most people have a reaction when I first mention it, so I thought I’d give it a try.”

She watched the show when it first aired and in reruns. “It was a big deal in our house, mostly because of my older sister,” Ayers said. “She was a huge fan.”

The show made an impact on Ayers, too. “I was in a band in the mid-’80s, and we did a version of the theme song,” she said. “It’s just one of those things; many people of a certain age have fond memories of it.”

“It was on all the time when I would be coming home from school,” said Heather Christopher, who’s playing Ginger and is a Juice Box regular. On the question of farm girl Mary Ann vs. sultry siren Ginger, the red-headed Christopher comes down on the sweet side. “I read that Mary Ann got three times the amount of fan mail that Ginger did,” she said. “I’m definitely not a Ginger type in real life, but I certainly have fun playing a Ginger type on stage.”

As with the kids shows, Ayers kept it short. “I’m hoping it’s going to be under 70 minutes,” she said, adding that vintage TV commercials will be projected between scenes.

Also in the cast: Kam Bustetter as Gilligan, John Serembe as the Skipper, Kate Anders as Mary Ann, Russ Holm as Thurston Howell III, Kim Holm as Lovey Howell and Michael Christopher as the Professor. The actors playing “Gilligan and Mary Ann are not familiar with the show,” Ayers said. “They are from a younger generation.”

If you’re interested in a trip to the Island, don’t delay. Tickets are all but sold out for the 7:30 performances. The 5 p.m. performance was just added.

There’s more to come, too. “The hope is to build up this series,” Ayers said. “There are lots of shows that we could do, like ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ and ‘Green Acres’ and all of those. …  It’s the boxed-wine version of Juice Box.”

Island Castaway Christmas

Friday, December 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 16 at 5:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

OlyTheater, Capital Mall, 625 Black Lake Blvd., Olympia



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