Musicals, marquee names highlight Craterian's next season

Garrison Keillor, Patti LuPone and four touring Broadway musicals are among highlights of Craterian Performances' newly announced 2007-2008 season at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater in Medford.

The refurbished performing arts venue's 11th season, released today, includes 23 shows, the fifth annual GingerBread Jubilee and several free community events that present music, dance, comedy, musical theater and family programs in a season that runs fall through spring.

Members' ticket orders by mail or fax will be processed June 5 through July 20, with the box office (779-3000) open for public sales July 24 and Internet sales beginning Aug. 7. Membership benefits start at $50. For details call Maureen Esser at 779-8195, Ext. 303, or visit

Strong women, good-looking men and above-average children everywhere will welcome humorist and "Prairie Home Companion" creator Garrison Keillor for a solo performance Jan. 9, 2008. Broadway legend Patti LuPone will light up the Craterian on Jan. 28, 2008, with her "Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda" solo concert. The show, which debuted at Carnegie Hall, includes music from shows she could have starred in, should have starred in, did star in and will soon star in.

Craterian Executive Director Stephen McCandless likens the LuPone show to the February appearance of Bernadette Peters in terms of the Broadway star appeal.

"Even though New York is thousands of miles away, there's a very strong base of Broadway theater fans here in Southern Oregon," he says.

The Craterian season opens on Sept. 8 with a return visit from Portland-based Pink Martini, the jazz-fusion combo that packed the Craterian last year and was a hit at Britt. "Solid Blues," is set for Oct. 9 with some of the biggest names in contemporary blues: Mavis Staples, Charlie Musselwhite and Joe Krown.

A powerhouse ensemble of Broadway performers recreate pivotal moments in the history of the Great White Way in "Neil Berg's 100 Years of Broadway" on Oct. 17.

This season builds on the Craterian tradition of bringing uptown entertainment to downtown Medford with four touring musicals: "Evita" on November 18, "The Producers" on December 3, "Peter Pan" on January 23 and "Gypsy" on March 12, 2008.

"Capitol Steps" returns with singing satirists April 28, 2008. The Steps merrily mine comic matter from domestic issues, foreign policy and the current presidential election to serve up new musical parodies such as "When IRS Guys are Smilin'," "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Korea?" and "76 Unknowns."

In the genre of multi-sensory spectacles, Craterian Performances presents "Cirque-Works: Birdhouse Factory" on Nov. 1. Inspired in part by Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry Murals, the outrageous illustrations of Rube Goldberg and Charlie Chaplin's film "Modern Times," this "new circus" experience combines physical stunts, mechanical inventions, hot music, dance and lighting effects.

"Music from the Crooked Road" is a National Council for the Traditional Arts tour of old-time, bluegrass, mountain gospel and flatfoot dance set for Nov. 9. "3 Redneck Tenors" combines down-home laughs and big-city music on Dec. 14 in a show that mixes Beethoven and NASCAR, Elvis, opera and Grand Ole Opry.

The Acting Company (of "The Three Musketeers" in March 2006) returns with a presentation of "Moby Dick Rehearsed" on Feb. 4, an Orson Welles adaptation of the great American novel. Teatro Lirico D'Europa brings soloists from major opera houses from around the world to Medford for "Italian Opera Gala" on Feb. 13, 2008. Chinese New Year will be marked with the Chinese-American International Piano Institute Winners Concert on Feb. 15.

A hearty St. Patrick's Celebration featuring Men of Worth and Friends is set for March 17. James Keigher, an Irishman living in Ashland, and Donnie Macdonald, a Scotsman who calls northern California home, share the stage with Celtic harpist Maureen Brennan, uilleann pipe and fiddle player Kevin Carr and champion Irish step dancers.

Three dance programs are in the lineup for 2007-08. Repertory Dance Theatre from Salt Lake City, Utah, presents "Time Capsule: A Century of Dance" on October 29. Koresh Dance Company brings its high-energy style to the Craterian on March 15 with "Looking Back: Music of the 40s, 50s, Plus Other Work." And Luis Bravo's acclaimed "Forever Tango" will heat up the Craterian stage on April 8.

Entertainment for families comes with Fred Garbo Inflatable Theater Company on Oct. 20. The fast-paced "inflatable vaudeville" show has enjoyed sold-out runs on Broadway and traveled the world.

"The Velveteen Rabbit" hops into town on April 20, 2008, a show for ages 5 and up including live singers, life-sized puppets, masks and magic.

The annual Christmas concerts by The Trail Band will be presented the first weekend in December.

Free community events planned for next year include the interactive Viva Voce Community Sing-Along Jan. 11 and Stars on Stage: Celebrating State Soloists featuring Jackson County winners of the District 8 high school solo music competition on April 13. The fifth annual GingerBread Jubilee is planned for November and will include a gala auction as well a public viewing.

Reach reporter Bill Varble at 776-4478 or e-mail

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