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Rogue Music Theatre names interim director

Rogue Music Theatre of Grants Pass has named Russell Lloyd interim executive director. Chris Caudle, head of RMT's board of directors, said the longtime actor, director and theater owner from Grants Pass brings two different sets of skills to the job.

He understands the business aspects as well as the artistic aspects, Caudle said Friday.

Lloyd has acted in and directed numerous Rogue Valley productions, including RMT's, and once ran his own theater company in Grants Pass.

Richard Jessup resigned as RMT's artistic director after eight years, citing differences between himself and the board over the group's future.

Caudle said RMT is conducting a search for a permanent executive director. The job's focus will shift from the artistic to the business end of the operation.

RMT has a budget of about &

36;180,000. It has been presenting outdoor summer musicals for 20 years at venues in Grants Pass, Medford and Ashland. It is probably best-known in Jackson County for its annual summer musicals at the Britt Festivals in Jacksonville.

Most of RMT's productions in the future will be mounted by independent guest directors, Caudle said.

Jessup criticized the board for what he said amounted to an attempt to return RMT to its community theater roots by cutting budgets and using volunteers in shows. He criticized the board for not taking a more aggressive approach to raising money.

That's ridiculous, Caudle said.

He said the board had raised more than &

36;40,000 in sponsorships in the past year. The board mounted three major fund-raisers: a golf tournament, an Octoberfest and an event called Broadway on the Rogue, a combination show and jet boat ride.

RMT has debt of about &

36;30,000. Jessup and Caudle said they disagreed over fiscal policy.

He was paying the actors first, Caudle said. We had a real disagreement with that.

Board members have talked about paying off the group's debt in about two years. Jessup said that would mean cuts that will affect the theater's quality, but Caudle disagreed.

No spring show is scheduled. RMT's production of Fiddler on the Roof is slated to open July 10 at Rogue Community College in Grants Pass and play at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater in Medford Aug. 1, 2 and 3.

Caudle said belt-tightening was necessary and should not harm the quality of the group's productions.

We needed to take a step back to take a step forward, he said. We have some challenges, but it's an opportunity for change. We're going to be able to pull it out.