A new production company is planning a series of interactive world-music performances at the Historic Ashland Armory beginning Friday, Feb. 11.

A new production company is planning a series of interactive world-music performances at the Historic Ashland Armory beginning Friday, Feb. 11.

Ashland-based SugarTime Presents has five events planned so far, which will include dancing, live music and local cuisine.

Executive producer Jason Gallagher says the idea for the series came after he and owner Bree Larson helped organize a successful cabaret show at the armory in November. More than 450 people attended the sold-out Yard Dogs Road Show, the group's fifth appearance in Ashland.

Since then, Gallagher says, "we've been putting everything in place to really take live entertainment in the region to the next level."

The shows will feature multiple performances in one night that encourage audience participation.

The first performance, a Latin-themed "Carnival!" will begin with dinner from Dragonfly restaurant, followed by two musical acts and several dance troupes both performing and instructing. It will end with a black-light presentation of capoeira, a form of Brazilian dance that incorporates martial arts moves.

Each show will include dinner and live entertainment, and some also will feature yoga, chants and costume contests to add to the hands-on experience.

"Dinner, plus a drink, plus all this entertainment, there's nothing like it anywhere in the area," says Gallagher, adding he's noticed interactive events tend to bring in a consistent crowd, while concerts can be hit or miss.

Larson says Ashland has a need for larger-scale performances.

"I think Ashland really does have a lack of live entertainment and big events," Larson says. "The town really craves it."

SugarTime Presents is Larson's first shot at running a production company, and she's confident her parents' investment of startup money won't be wasted

"I have no doubts or worries. I don't go into that," Larson says. "A lot of people in the community are really backing us."

Larson says after the first few events, she and Gallagher will be able to better predict SugarTime's future, which may include planning shows in San Francisco or Portland. Larson is hoping for long-term success.

"I'm super excited, and I'd love for this to go on forever and ever," she says. "I'd love for SugarTime to be like Bill Graham at the Fillmore," she said of the legendary San Francisco Bay Area music and live entertainment promoter.

SugarTime plans to utilize local businesses to market Ashland as an overall attraction, exchanging publicity and advertisements for help covering costs to produce the shows.

"When people come to Ashland, they're coming for the experience, for the destination," Gallagher says. "People know Ashland as a place to visit and we're going to market that."

— Teresa Ristow