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A holiday trifecta at the Craterian

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Craterian to present three big holiday shows for Medford audiences this year
There will be music, singing and dancing when Tomaseen Foley brings hs beloved show to town Dec. 19. The Craterian will offer two performances of "A Celtic Christmas," at 3 and 7:30 p.m.[courtesy photo]
Tomaseen Foley
It will be Jake Shimabukuro's 21st appearance at the Craterian Monday, Dec. 6, when he performs "Christmas in Hawaii" with fellow musicians Jackson Waldoff on bass, Thunderstorm Artis on vocals, and Taku Hirano on percussion.[courtesy photo]
Teen Musical Theater of Oregon will reprise its online video series, "Countdown to Christmas" with 14 new songs and 33 of TMTO's talented teens, like Luke Hamilton, seen here in the 2020 show.[courtesy photo]

Medford’s Craterian Theater will celebrate the Christmas season with a holiday trifecta: Teen Musical Theater of Oregon’s online production of “A Countdown to Christmas,” Jake Shimabukuro’s “Christmas in Hawaii,” and Tomaseen Foley’s “A Celtic Christmas.”

December’s two live shows will be the Craterian’s first touring productions of the 2021-22 season.

In addition, the annual James Collier GingerBread Jubilee will award cash prizes to contest winners and raise money to help fund Craterian shows.

‘Countdown to Christmas’

This holiday season, TMTO will reprise its hit video series from 2020, “A Countdown to Christmas,” with 14 new songs and featuring 33 of TMTO’s talented teens.

“Last year’s series was widely popular,” said Stephen McCandless, Craterian executive director. “Even now, people tell us that it gave them hope and light throughout the dark days of the pandemic.”

The first holiday video debuts Dec. 12, with subsequent videos released daily. You can find them on the Craterian’s YouTube channel and its Facebook and Instagram pages.

“They will be available free,” McCandless said. “We think of it as our Christmas gift to the community.”

When the state “opened up” this summer, TMTO announced plans to produce “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” this winter. But because of the delta surge, the show was postponed to next summer.

‘Christmas in Hawaii’

Jake Shimabukuro’s “Christmas in Hawaii” will play at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 6. A ukulele master, Shimabukuro is known as the Jolly Ambassador of Aloha.

He’ll perform a set of popular holiday songs with Hawaiian stylings and selections from a repertoire of his hits.

He also will sing songs from his new album, “Jake and Friends,” slated for release this November, on which he is joined by Willie Nelson, Bette Midler, Jack Johnson, Michael McDonald, Vince Gill, Amy Grant and others.

This is a return engagement for the Hawaiian artist.

“He is warm and engaging,” McCandless said. “He’s the perfect personality to bring holiday cheer to our community.”

Appearing with him will be bassist Jackson Waldoff and special guests Thunderstorm Artis on vocals (a finalist on “The Voice”) and Taku Hirano on percussion.

‘A Celtic Christmas’

Closing out 2021 for the Craterian will be Tomaseen Foley’s “A Celtic Christmas,” with two performances Dec. 19, at 3 and 7:30 p.m.

The show has been warmly reviewed wherever it plays. “Like a pint of Guinness, ‘A Celtic Christmas’ is going down rich and smooth,” said the Huntington, West Virginia, Herald-Dispatch. “A wonderful weaver of good tales,” said the Palm Beach Daily News.

Raised on a small farm in southwest Ireland, Foley takes his audiences back to Ireland of the 1950s, to a night before Christmas, to a time when neighbors would gather in each other’s homes, bringing their traditional instruments, songs and dances.

“Tom has the distinction of being the only artist the Craterian has presented for over 20 consecutive years,” McCandless said. “It took a global pandemic to interrupt the tradition.”

The program offers poetry, prose, song and dance. “It will certainly make you smile, and likely bring a tear to your eye,” McCandless said.

Accompanying Foley on his tour is a band composed of regulars and award-winning guest artists, many from Ireland.

GingerBread Jubilee

The annual GingerBread Jubilee gives gingerbread artisan bakers a chance to show off their skills and win prizes. Also, through an auction of the entries, it helps fund shows at the Craterian.

Gingerbread creations can be viewed Nov. 19-22 in the community window display at the Collier Creative Center, 50 N. Fir, in Medford.

“Sometimes people who purchase the gingerbread houses at the auction display them at community businesses,” said Aspen Droesch, development director. “But we never know if or where until after the event.”

The online auction of the entries opens at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19 and runs through 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21.

“Some packages will be auctioned off during our live virtual gala Friday night,” Droesch said.

The virtual gala will take place at 7:30 p.m., featuring entertainment, a live auction, a retrospective of the past year, and a look at the new season.

Both the auction and the gala can be viewed for free via the Craterian’s YouTube link.

For links to online happenings and additional information on any of the holiday events, go to craterian.org.

You can reach Ashland writer Jim Flint at jimflint.ashland@yahoo.com.