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By Travel Medford | 01/21/2020 | Museums & History, Music, Performing Arts

TOP ROGUE VALLEY THEATERS & AMPHITHEATERS

If you love the theater, you’re in the right place! Medford will launch you into a world of Shakespearean comedies and tragedies, live music, stage plays, orchestral performances, classical favorites, modern productions and much more.

If you’re unsure what type of show you’re craving — or want to see them all — visit our fave Rogue Valley theaters and amphitheaters for a well-rounded experience of the arts.

1. Craterian Theater

Located in the heart of downtown Medford, the Craterian Theater was designed by architect Frank C. Clark in a Spanish Colonial style. Early in its history, a naming contest was held and from an overwhelming 1,500 entries, the name “Craterian” was selected in honor of Crater Lake. One of the theater’s most famous entertainers, Ginger Rogers, performed on the Craterian stage as a vaudevillian. 

Renovation and construction began in 1996, the theater re-opened in 1997, and it has remained a cornerstone of downtown Medford ever since.

2. Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) has an impressive and storied history, as if it were written by the Bard himself. Founded in 1935 by Angus L. Bowmer, the Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival is among the oldest and largest professional non-profit theatres in the country.

OSF traces its roots back to the Chautauqua movement, which brought entertainment to rural areas of the country in the late 1800s. With the dawn of a new decade, OSF has an amazing showcase that includes “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Peter and the Starcatcher” and “The Tempest”, among others.

3. Britt Festival

Portland conductor John Trudeau and his friend Sam McKinney visited Southern Oregon and dreamt of starting a music festival. They deemed the former hillside estate of Jacksonville pioneer Peter Britt as the perfect spot because of its amazing resonance and acoustics. Combined with gorgeous valley views, the hillside was an optimal site for concerts.

In 1963, volunteers created a makeshift stage out of plywood and strung tin-can lights. A small chamber orchestra was assembled and the Northwest's first summer outdoor music festival was born. 

In addition to its amazing concerts, many of the original trees planted by Peter Britt are still producing fruit, and the Sequoia sapling planted in 1862 now stands more than 200 feet tall.

4. Holly Theatre

The Holly Theatre opened in 1930 to an enthusiastic public. Designed by Frank C. Clark, the Holly had the largest illuminated sign in Oregon outside of Portland. It was the largest electrification project in Southern Oregon or Northern California, with hundreds of electric lights and 500 feet of neon. The interior of the Holly was artfully decorated in a Venetian theme, with dark wood trim and bright colors. 

Because of changes in the movie industry, the Holly closed in 1986. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998, and in 2011, the JPR Foundation purchased the theater and ran full-steam ahead with returning the theater to its former glory. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in February 2019 to mark the next phase of renovations.

5. Expo Amphitheater

In 1960, Interstate 5 was built half a mile east of Central Point, with new tourist and trucking facilities and businesses opening around the interchange. The Jackson County Fairgrounds, named The Expo, was built in 1974. 

The Expo is home to a variety of events. Every year, locals and tourists enjoy the multi-day Jackson County Fair, a pro rodeo, the Bacon and Barrels Festival (new in 2020!), a gem and mineral show, Southern Oregon BrewFest, a holiday market and a handful of awesome concerts.

6. Oregon Cabaret Theatre

The building which houses the Oregon Cabaret Theater (OCT) was originally Ashland’s First Baptist Church. The building was sold in the 1960s and went through several owners. At one time it was painted bright pink — and known locally as “the Old Pink Church”.

In 1982, the boarded-up building was purchased by Craig Hudson, who renovated the structure to its 1911 appearance. The magnificent crystal chandelier and other theatre items you’ll find inside were salvaged from a 1927 movie palace in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.

Starting out with 30 performances in 1986, OCT has grown and now presents more 270 performances of five shows in their year-round season. This year they’re showcasing “Steel Magnolias”, “The Full Monty” and more.

7. Camelot Theatre

Founded in 1982 as the Actors’ Theatre, Camelot Theatre is a semi-professional community theatre in the Rogue Valley.

In 2007, downtown redevelopment plans by the Talent Urban Renewal Agency included an extension of Main Street through the theatre building. Camelot initiated a campaign in January 2010 that successfully raised $2.5 million to purchase the land, and design and construct a new theatre building. The project was completed in May 2011. 

The 2020 season will offer many favorites, such as “Godspell” and “You Can’t Take It With You”.

8. Collaborative Theatre Project

If you’re looking for outstanding local shows, visit the Collaborative Theatre Project (CTP) in The Village at Medford Center. CTP is a non-profit theatre company which opened in 2015. These performers enchant audiences with high quality theatrical productions. The theatre also supports local artists and enhances the lives of the community through the arts. 

The Collaborative Project has a great 2020 lineup, including  “Our Town”, “The Addams Family” and “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”.

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