Music, film, and theaters, oh my! Last month I had the pleasure of getting Out & About to a few different local galleries and studios to experience first hand what all of the hype was on wine and paint. Well, I must say that now I fully understand and am headed out this month onto my next adventure.
I would like to highlight one of my favorite local theaters, Craterian Theater at The Collier Center for the Performing Arts located at the heart of downtown Medford. A few weeks back I was able to attend Ragtime, a brand new theatrical tour from the producers of The Color Purple, Spamalot, The Addams Family and Rock of Ages. This Tony Award-Winning musical tells the story of the turn of the 20th century in New York City and the lives of families from three divergent worlds become inextricably intertwined because of their shared hope in the promise of a better tomorrow. I laughed and cried, was inspired and let down (only from acts by the characters) and heard some of the strongest and passionate singing I ever had before.
Although I am no play-going-guru (but would not mind being one), I can say that this theater is top of the line and we are extremely lucky to have it. Craterian brings in house and community productions, as well as "trunk shows" that nationally travel from city to city providing Broadway-style musicals to national audiences. This makes this venue THE most unique in the valley from Ashland, Medford and Grants Pass. This, my friends, is what we call cream of the crop ... and, last but not least, I have to give a shout-out to them for carrying my favorite local beer (made right across the street), Workin Gal Browne brewed by Bricktowne Brewery.
Also located in Medford is the Randall Theatre Company of Medford, one of only four live theaters in the United States to be named as an official "Pay What You Want" theater. This means a patron pays what they wish to pay. They specialize in drama, comedy and musical theater as well as producing large theatrical theme events.
The Rogue Valley Symphony is a 50-70 piece orchestra that presents five Classic Series concerts in an 8-month season (September-April). Each series is presented in Ashland at the Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall, in Medford at the Craterian Theater and in Grants Pass at the Grants Pass Performing Arts Center.
Then, of course, there is the Britt Festival. A premier outdoor summer performing arts festival located in the historic 1850s Gold Rush town of Jacksonville. Each summer they bring in an array of performers for all to enjoy, and all enjoy while bringing in their very own picnic. One of my favorite aspects of this venue is the option to stock my basket full of local wine from the Applegate Valley and cheese from the Rogue Creamery. In fact, I love it so much that I volunteer there and have for about five years! This naturally formed amphitheater is set among majestic ponderosa pines and native madrones on the beautiful hillside estate of 19th century photographer Peter Britt.
Camelot Theater Company is a semi-professional theater serving the Rogue Valley, and it has become the principal attraction in heart of Talent. In 1990, this theater resided in a one-time feed store that was converted to a 104-seat theater. With the collaboration of many helping hands raising funds they now have a new state-of-the-art theater building that provides 164 seats for more than a dozen shows each year.
Oregon Cabaret Theatre is another year-round theater annually presenting almost 300 performances of five or more shows. These high-quality productions have brought back both locals and visitors for years on end. It also brought me back as a volunteer for nearly five years. With this intimate setting of 140 seats, you can get up-close and personal with your neighbor, be called on stage or have someone plop in your lap for all to laugh, or have a private candlelit dinner in the corner with your favorite date. Make sure you order their famous Dick Hay Pie!
Also in Ashland, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is a great one to mention! They offer 11 different plays that include four by Shakespeare and seven by other classic writers, all held in one of their three theaters, as well as modern and contemporary work and world premieres. Running nearly year round, OSF is not only an asset to Ashland but to our region as a whole. Free green shows are offered six nights a week from summer to fall, educational programs engage people from all around, and their ongoing events to increase cultural connections are more than impressive.
Barnstormers Theatre produces seven plays per year, and has produced more than 230 plays there over its half-century history. The theatre consists of one paid staff member. All others are volunteers, working for the love of live community theatre and “maybe some tip money and a few free tickets.” This theatre focuses on the development of new talent from within the community, making it both affordable and accessible to all.
Opening in 1938 during the struggle of the Depression, the Rogue Theatre served as one of the few places for people to come together and escape the hard times among them. It is one of Grants Pass’s most prominent historical buildings, and is capable of hosting a wide range of arts and cultural events, including theater, concerts, dance and film presentations. The Art Deco exterior and glowing neon marquee add to the warmth and charm of the city’s historical district. It has been recognized as both an important statewide and national historic resource.
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