Theater and Festivals in Southern Oregon

The Elizabethan Stage at the OregonShakespeare Festival in Ashland.
The Elizabethan Stage at the Oregon
Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.

The story of theater in Southern Oregon begins in 1893 with the construction of a Chautauqua building in downtown Ashland. The Chautauqua movement swept America in the late 19th Century, bringing adult education, culture and entertainment to rural areas. Early on, the Ashland Chautauqua saw families from throughout the region attending musical performances and political speeches during 10-day seasons every July.

Eventually, so many people came to Ashland that the original building was enlarged and by 1917, a round, dome-covered building was in place. As the Chautauqua movement lost momentum, the building fell into disuse and by the 1930s had been torn down, except for the round cement walls. And it is within these walls that the story of theater really begins in Southern Oregon.

Evidence of this rich cultural legacy is seen throughout the region. Southern Oregon has many more theaters, galleries and fine arts opportunities than one would normally find in such bucolic rural settings as these. Here's a look at some of the theater-going opportunities you'll find here.

Oregon Cabaret Theatre
Now in its 20th season, the Cabaret is renowned for its top-notch entertainment (musicals, revues, and comedies) all produced with flair and panache in an elegant nightclub setting. Gourmet dining, desserts, and beverages and Sunday Brunch matinees available. February-December season. Monday performances.

First & Hargadine Streets/PO Box 1149 
Ashland OR 97520 
(541) 488-2902 
www.oregoncabaret.com

Oregon Shakespeare Festival
An Oregon tradition since 1935, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival annually presents 11 plays on three unique stages from mid-February through October. Plays are presented in rotating repertory, allowing patrons to see many plays in one visit. Performances, Backstage Tours, and other activities offered daily, except Mondays.

15 South Pioneer Street/PO Box 158 
Ashland OR 97520 
(541) 482-4331 (800) 219-8161
www.osfashland.org

 

Oregon Stage Works, Ashland
A non-profit performance group formed in October 2002 in response to an outpouring of community support for the creation of a professional theater company focusing on the staging of developing and master American playwrights. Inspired by the diversity of American society, Oregon Stage Works is dedicated to enlightening artists and audiences alike with creative and challenging interpretations, and simultaneously embracing a community of all ages and cultures with affordable professional theater.

Theater Arts, Southern Oregon University, Ashland
The university is committed to providing a superior training program for undergraduates through a balance of classroom instruction and hands-on stage production experience. Students gain the theatrical skills necessary to succeed in graduate schools and in professional workplaces. Theater arts majors participate in an intensive program that produces two or more stage productions each academic quarter.

Britt Festival, Jacksonville
Assembled by a group of volunteers in the summer of 1963 (with a plywood stage and tin-can lights), Britt Music Festival featured a small chamber orchestra. Today, the Britt Festival brings world-class musicians to their Jacksonville outdoor amphitheater, with a capacity of 2,200, throughout the spring and summer months.

Who Was Peter Britt? In 1852, Peter Britt (1819-1905) arrived in Jacksonville with $5 in his pocket and a wagon full of photography equipment. A Swiss immigrant, Britt forged a distinguished life and career in the Rogue Valley, and became one of Oregon's most celebrated citizens. Through thousands of photographs, he chronicled 50 years of life and growth in Southern Oregon. From Jacksonville's inauspicious beginnings in the 1850s to Southern Oregon's agricultural prominence at the turn of the century, Britt's images tell the stories of those who settled and transformed our region.

Camelot Theatre Company
Gigi, Frost/Nixon, Always Patsy Cline & White Christmas - these are just some of the popular shows you will see in Talent's Camelot Theatre. Enjoy high-quality, affordable live theatre reflecting the diversity of American culture in an intimate 99-seat setting -- only minutes from "everything." Corner of Main St. and Talent Ave.

PO Box 780 
Talent OR 97540 
(541) 840-7282 
www.camelottheatre.or

The Rogue Theatre, Grants Pass
This lovely art deco-style theater was built in 1938 and has recently undergone a renaissance, becoming a showcase for national, regional and local performing arts. This attractive, welcoming facility augments the historic charm of downtown Grants Pass' central shopping district. In the past several seasons, music fans have seen such top names as Richie Havens, Mickey Rooney, Donovan, Little Feat and more.

Rogue Music Theater, Rogue Community College, Grants Pass
This venue offers some of the finest regional musical theater in Oregon, especially lovely are July and August shows under Southern Oregon's balmy night sky in a lovely outdoor amphitheater.

Barnstormers Little Theater, Grants Pass
One of the oldest community theaters in Oregon, it presents classic and contemporary plays, leaning heavily toward comedy.

Stardust Repertory Theater, Grants Pass Performing Arts Center
Located in Grants Pass High School, this is one of the nicest performing arts venues in the Northwest. Built in 1999, the GPHS Performing Arts Center houses two theaters and three performance classrooms. The main theater seats 800 and has the largest stage in Southern Oregon. The Grants Pass Chamber of Commerce and local merchants also sponsor a series of free "Concerts in the Park" every Tuesday night, July-September, in Riverside Park.

Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater
Craterian Performances is the nonprofit owner/operator of the beautifully renovated 732-seat downtown theater and presents an annual season of national and international artists in the fields of music, dance, comedy, musical theater and family/children’s shows. 

Here is Southern Oregon's state-of-the-art community performing arts center, located in the historic downtown of our largest city, Medford. The facility features excellent acoustics and sightlines, an impressive array of theatrical equipment and is operated by a professional staff. 

Here is Southern Oregon's state-of-the-art community performing arts center, located in the historic downtown of our largest city, Medford. The facility features excellent acoustics and sightlines, an impressive array of theatrical equipment and is operated by a professional staff. 

The multi-purpose facility may also be rented for performances, conferences, receptions and meetings.

Here's the Ginger Rogers-Medford Connection. It was a Texas contest that started Ginger Rogers on the road to Hollywood ... and to Medford. In 1925, in Dallas, she won a statewide Charleston dance competition that led to a six-month theater tour of one-night performances. She came to Oregon and appeared on the stage of Hunt's Craterian (now called the Craterian) on April 21, 1926, just 18 months after its grand opening. Heralding her appearance, the Medford Mail Tribune wrote "Miss Rogers is a winsome little miss with captivating mannerisms and a pair of feet that make the most intricate dances seem easy." Included was a picture of a glamorous Ginger at age 15. Today her graceful magic lives on as this fabled entertainer and Rogue Valley neighbor shares her name in the lights of the new Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater.

23 South Central Avenue 
Medford OR 97501 
(541) 779-3000 
www.craterian.org

Ross Ragland Theater, Klamath Falls
The 1939 art deco-styled Esquire Theater in old town Klamath Falls was remodeled into a state-of-the-art performing arts center. Today, The Ross Ragland Theater and Cultural Center serves, educates and inspires more than 100,000 people each year, and is the only year-round, multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary arts center in South Central Oregon and Northern California. The theater provides the perfect venue for large Broadway shows, symphony orchestras, top name artists, as well as smaller chamber ensembles and one-man shows.

Theater at Umpqua Community College, Roseburg
The UCC Fine and Performing Arts Department provides educational opportunities for students interested in obtaining a college transfer degree, Associate of Arts, or personal enrichment in Music, Theater, and Visual Arts. Classes are held in the Whipple Fine Arts Center. The 182-seat Centerstage Theatre is a classroom for theater, lighting, makeup and set design. Backstage has a costume loft, wood shop, makeup area and dressing rooms. Theater productions are produced quarterly.

Festivals

 

Ashland Independent Film Festival
Celebrating the 10th Annual festival April 7-11, 2011. 6,000 film lovers will gather at the historic art-deco Varsity Theatre in downtown Ashland to watch more than 80 films in five days. Filmmakers from around the world come to engage with the audience after each screening and at the festival's special events.

PO Box 218
Ashland OR 97520
(541) 488-3823
www.ashlandfilm.org

Britt Festivals
June through mid-September. Britt Festivals, the northwest's premier outdoor music and performing arts festival, features world renowned artists who perform under the stars in a natural hillside amphitheater of unparalleled beauty, just three blocks from downtown historic Jacksonville. Call or write, or visit the website, for program information.

216 W. Main St./PO Box 1124
Medford OR 97501
(541) 779-0847, (800) 88-BRITT (882-7488)
www.brittfest.org

Medford Jazz Julibee
October 8-10, 2010 - Three days of fantastic music and dancing. It's the longest-running jazz festival in Southern Oregon and Northern California with a mix of hot and talented national, regional and local bands playing live traditional jazz, zydeco, jump jive, big band, gospel, swing and more.

221 North Central, PMB 221
Medford OR 97501
(541) 770-6972, (800) 599-0039
www.medfordjazz.org

Umpqua Valley Wine, Art & Music Festival
The Umpqua Valley Wine, Art, Music Festival is the oldest continuous wine, art and music festival in Oregon. It is held on the beautiful Umpqua Community College campus, just north of Roseburg, I-5 exit 129. 2009  Dates: Saturday, Sept 12, and Sunday, Sept 13. Art, wine, entertainment, food vendors, outdoor stage. Adults and children welcomed.
1140 Umpqua College Rd. (I-5 exit 129)
Roseburg OR 97470
(541) 459-5120, (800) 782-2686
www.umpqua.edu