Randall Theatre, Downward chart new course
The Randall Theatre Company announced recently that Kathy Wing has been named the company’s new managing artistic director, replacing Robin Downward, who will focus his efforts on EventWerks, Downward’s entertainment and production company.
Wing has years of theater experience, working productions at Umpqua Community College, St. Mary’s School and with other dramatic groups throughout Southern Oregon. She also has a six-year history with the Randall Theatre Company, as an actor, director, technical director and board president. Kathy’s late husband, Michael, directed Randall’s musicals and her son, John, is Randall’s sound and video projections designer.
“I’m carrying on a family legacy of working with the Randall,” Wing said. “Michael was involved, John and I have been involved for a long time, and we want to keep those traditions alive and make some new ones.”
Wing plans four shows for 2020, scaled back some from 2019 because of the late start to the season.
“I Do! I Do!” opens at the Randall on April 3, 2020, and runs through April 11. The world premiere of Edward Miller’s musical “Waiting Star” will open on May 29 for a three-week run. Two additional main stage productions are planned, and Wing already has the 2021 season lined up with two plays and three musicals.
“I Do! I Do!” is the story of a 50-year marriage and is set in the couple’s bedroom, with a four-poster bed center stage. Nicholas Hewitt and Jessica Shieman are cast as leads.
“It’s interesting to play the part of a person who ages through the course of the story; the two of them never stray too far from each other despite some big bumps in their lives,” reflected Hewitt. “Mine is a very real kind of character.”
Hewitt, who now makes his living in local theater, got his start at the Randall.
“The Randall Theatre Company was one of the first places I worked when I got to the valley, within a month after graduating college,” Hewitt explained, crediting Downward for his early success. “Community theater is core to Robin’s value system, and the Randall has always created opportunities to work and a safe starting place to perform; that’s what I’ve loved so much about the Randall.”
“Waiting Star” will be a big and elaborate production with a lot of moving parts, a bigger cast and period costumes, according to Kathy Wing. She says that there will be familiar characters such as Prince Hall and Falstaff, and Shakespearean themes of love and plotting against the crown with lots of music. Southern Oregon’s Keith Fuller will have the lead, playing Falstaff.
The Randall has gone through some changes since it first began staging performances in 2009.
Starting from a 66-seat warehouse space on E. Third Street in Medford, the Randall also ran for a couple of seasons at Calvary Church Assembly of God in Jacksonville before losing its lease in 2018. Upon its return to Medford, Downward contracted for new space at 20 S. Fir St. where in addition to renovation costs, the change in use from retail to assembly triggered an expensive seismic retrofit commitment. In March 2019, Downward announced that the Randall was in danger of closing and launched a fundraising campaign that brought in $20,000 from those who wanted to see the Randall continue its work in community theater.
Now re-branded as the Randall Entertainment and Show Hall, Downward’s company EventWerks is managing the 20 S. Fir St. space with the Randall Theatre Company as EventWerk’s resident theater company, a client of sorts. Downward registered EventWerks Oregon LLC with the state of Oregon on March 26, 2010. The Randall Theatre Company was registered with the state as a Domestic Nonprofit Corporation (501c3) on May 24, 2018.
EventWerks is scheduling short-run local and traveling acts at 20 S. Fir St., and coming up in 2020 are burlesque, drag and comedy shows, music gigs, murder mystery dinners and science fiction films. Shows are flagged as family friendly and over-21, adults only.
EventWerks, under Downward’s direction, will continue to produce the annual Nightmare Chamber Haunted House at 10 E. Third St. in Medford, as well as Halloween performances such as “Evil Dead” and “Silence, the Musical” on Fir Street.
For more information about upcoming Randall Theatre Company and EventWerks productions and to buy tickets, visit RandallTheatre.com or call 541-632-3258.
Reach Ashland freelance writer Maureen Flanagan Battistella at firstname.lastname@example.org