by Tiffany Hill
All the world’s a stage during the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which runs February through November each year. The 2020 schedule features 10 plays, including classic Shakespeare like “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” and “The Tempest,” as well as contemporary dramas and bold comedies like “The Copper Children” and the original “Black Odyssey.” What sets this world-class theater experience apart is that performances come alive in various venues. A summertime favorite is the stunning outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre. The festival also hosts engaging educational programs for youth and families.
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival. 2019. Mother Road by Octavio Solis. Actors: Cedric Lamar, Fidel Gomez, Mark Murphey, and Tony Sancho. Directed by Bill Rauch. Scenic Design: Christopher Acebo. Costume Design: Carolyn Mazuca. Lighting Design: Pablo Santiago. Projection Design: Kaitlyn Pietras. Composer and Sound Designer: Paul James Prendergast. Wig Designer: Cherelle D. Guyton. Movement Director: Ty Defoe. Production Dramaturg: Tiffany Ana López. Voice and Text Director: Micha Espinosa. Phil Killian Directing Fellow: Kareem Fahmy. Fight Director: U. Jonathan Toppo. Stage Manager: Karl Alphonso. Production Assistant: Ray Gonzalez. Photographer: Jenny Graham.
Located at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, the Oregon Center for the Arts comprises a state-of-the-art theater and music hall. During the 2020 season, catch not only dramas like traditional Shakespeare, but also concerts featuring chamber music, indie rock and big-name artists like Bela Fleck. Even better, the center features faculty and student recitals, which are free to the public to attend.
Enjoy a culinary and theatrical delight during an evening at the Oregon Cabaret Theatre. Located at the edge of downtown Ashland, the theater is housed in a meticulously renovated church built in 1911. In 2020, the Oregon Cabaret Theatre celebrates its 35th season with favorites such as “Steel Magnolias,” “The Full Monty” and the classic “White Christmas.” Each show has its own menu, with dishes reflecting the theme of the play. In a recent performance of “Sweeny Todd,” meat pies were served.
Visit the charming town of Talent, just north of Ashland, and you’ll immediately notice the striking Camelot Theatre on the city’s main street. In 2010, the organization raised funds to design and construct a new theater, the James Morrison Collier Theatre Building. The theater’s 2020 season, its 38th, features fun Broadway hits for the whole family, including “All Shook Up,” “Godspell” and “Annie.”
The Craterian Theatre, located in the heart of Medford, is keeping the arts alive in the Rogue Valley with its variety of performances. The 750-seat venue first opened in 1924. Today, the refurbished building, on the National Register of Historic Places, is a community mainstay. The venue hosts music, comedy, choir performances, dance, youth theater and more. It’s also one of the venues for the Rogue Valley Symphony.
With a combined total of more than 230 performances staged at its church-turned-theater, the 68-year-old Barnstormers Theatre is Oregon’s oldest continuously operating community theater. Its 2019-2020 season, which ends in June, features unique plays such as “The Lion in Winter,” about Henry II and his family and “The Sunshine Boys,” a vaudeville comedy duo. Barnstormers also has a Sunday workshop series examining theater behind the scenes.