Ginger's portrait lives

On my last several trips to the Craterian, I've not seen Ginger Rogers' portrait that is usually installed in the balcony lobby. Has it been removed for good, just moved or undergoing maintenance?

— Ed H., Medford

Not to worry, Ed. The life-size portrait of singer, actress and dancer Ginger Rogers was removed from the balcony lobby of the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater during last summer's renovations and now hangs on the southern wall of the nearby reception room, the Sabroso Forum.

The oil painting, which had hung in the lobby since about 1998, is the work of local artist Dona Gelsinger.

The Medford performing arts center's connection to the famous star of stage and screen goes back more than 80 years. Ginger got her start in show business by winning a dance contest in Texas and went on a city-hopping tour, with a stop at the Craterian in 1926, 18 months after the theater opened.

The performance was a hit. A Mail Tribune review noted, "Miss Rogers is a winsome little miss with captivating mannerisms and a pair of feet that make the most intricate dances seem easy."

She was also captivated by the Rogue Valley, purchasing a ranch on the Rogue River near Shady Cove in 1940 and moving there after her retirement decades later. In 1993 — 67 years after her first performance in Medford — Ginger Rogers returned to the stage as part of a benefit for the theater's reconstruction.

Alas, Ginger passed away in 1995, but the theater bearing her name remains as a legacy.

Craterian Executive Director Stephen McCandless is unsure whether the portrait will return to the lobby.

"We're using the space a little differently ... so I haven't figured out the layout of the space going forward," he says.

So, Ed, if you're hoping to get a peek at the theater's namesake, just ask next time you stop by.

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