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Craterian lineup includes 'Cats,' Second City laughs

The popular Broadway musical Cats is coming to the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater in Medford at last.

We finally bagged the 'Cats,' the Craterian's Maureen Esser says.

Tickets will go on sale to Craterian members by mail or fax June 8 and to the public by mail or fax July 20. Box-office sales begin July 27 at 23 S. Central Ave. Memberships begin at &

36;50.

Cats is just one of the Broadway shows that highlight the Craterian's eighth season as a performing arts center in downtown Medford.

In all, Craterian Performances, the theater's presenting arm, has scheduled 20 touring shows, three Spotlight Series concerts, a locally produced dance festival, a New Year's Eve show and party plus two community events.

— Admission ranges from free for some events to &

36;68 for premium reserved seats for Cats. Most shows have seats priced in the &

36;20 to &

36;40 range.

The Craterian is also a venue for several Southern Oregon performing arts groups, which announce their own seasons.

The list for the 2004-2005 Craterian season includes music, dance, comedy, musical theater and family programs in a season that begins in the fall and runs through spring.

Executive Director Stephen McCandless says he has heard the same refrain from the public for several years: Bring more Broadway.

As a result of a &

36;5 million renovation before its 1997 re-opening as a performing arts center, the Craterian is probably unique in Southern Oregon in its ability to accommodate the lavish sets and large casts of touring Broadway musicals.

It takes a tremendous amount of staff support and production amenities to do those shows, McCandless says.

I think 'Cats' takes five semis to haul the show, and the crew is 48 stagehands.

Five Broadway touring shows have been scheduled: Smokey Joe's Cafe, Nov. 14, Crazy for You, Jan. 10, Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk, March 18, Contact, April — and Cats, May 17-18.

Smokey Joe's, inspired by '50s rock 'n' roll composers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, is the longest-running revue in Broadway history. Crazy is a revival of Gershwin's Girl Crazy.

Noise is a blues, tap and hip-hop celebration of African-American rhythms in history. Contact is a Tony-winning dance play. The long-running Cats brings singing, dancing felines to a moonlit alley.

Other highlights are visits from The Second City comedy troupe Oct. 12, the one-man comedy show MacHomer March 12 and singer Bobby McFerrin April 16.

Second City is the Chicago troupe (alumni include Alan Alda, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Chris Farley) that specializes in social and political comedy. McFerrin was the first entertainer to specialize in solo vocal improv combining jazz, folk, choral and classical.

MacHomer stars Rick Miller doing a take-off on Shakespeare's Macbeth with the voices of FOX's long-running hit sit-com The Simpsons.

For classical lovers there is the Turtle Island String Quartet Nov. 9, The Tuscan Sun Festival Tour April 26 and Opera Verdi Europa's Aida May 3.

Dance will be represented by the juried regional festival It's About Dance! Oct. 30, the Spanish dance show Yaelisa & Caminos Flamencos Nov. 19, and the Texas-based Bruce Wood Dance Company Jan. 22. The company's signature piece is Lovett! inspired by the songs of country singer Lyle Lovett.

Recording artist and Broadway sensation Linda Eder will perform Feb. 25. Bobby McFerrin plans an April 16 show. Eileen Ivers, whom The New York Times called the Jimmy Hendrix of the violin, will bring her Celtic stylings March 23.

An Oregon tradition, Christmas With the Trail Band, will return Dec. 4, and the Craterian will ring in the new year with And the World Goes Round, the songs of Kander and Ebb, and a New Year's Eve party Dec. 31.

Cirque ?loize will visit again Jan. 18 with a circus show called Rain.

The Kennedy Center's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer will bring more family musical entertainment Jan. 15. The Magic School Bus ' Live! will roll into town March 10. Theatreworks USA will bring its musical take on C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe April 3.

Homegrown talent will be featured in the Craterian's Spotlight Series. Lorraine Rawls, a winner of the Will Rogers Award for Excellence in Western Music, will open the series Sept. 19. Robin and Pam Lawson plan an Oct. 17 show, and The Hamazons will return Feb. 6.

Free community events are the Viva Voce Community Sing-Along Jan. 7 and Celebrating State Soloists April 10.

The Craterian's second annual Gingerbread Jubilee will include a reservation-only auction Nov. 11 and public viewings of elaborate gingerbread creations Nov. 12-13. Proceeds benefit the theater.

In addition to presenting its own season, Craterian Performances rents space for both nonprofit and commercial uses. The Craterian's art partners are the Rogue Opera, the Rogue Valley Chorale, the Rogue Valley Symphony, Ballet Rogue, the Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon and the Rogue Valley Youth Choruses. Listings of the groups' events will be found in the Craterian's 2005 brochure.

Visit , or call 779-3000.

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