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Curtain Call: Kathy Wing spreads her, um, wings as executive director of the Randall

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Kathy Wing performs in her one-woman show, "Grand Dames and Divas," in 2021 at Ghostlight Playhouse. Submitted photo
Kathy Wing performs in her one-woman show, "Grand Dames and Divas," in 2021 at Ghostlight Playhouse. Submitted photo
Kathy Wing, artistic director of Randall Theatre Company, and son John Wing, executive director, stand in front of Ghostlight Playhouse, a venue acquired for Randall productions. The company also rents the site for other entertainment related activities to raise operating funds for the Randall. Photo by Jim Flint

Kathy Wing never planned a career in theater, but life has a way of telling you something about yourself you may not realize.

With a bachelor’s degree in management, she worked in a variety of jobs—as a secretary, crisis counselor and even as a McDonald’s manager.

She had sung in choirs in high school and was cast in a few ensemble roles in school musicals. That experience inspired her to major in music education in college, but that was interrupted when she met Michael Wing. She married him and left the University of Oregon to follow his career path.

“We were living in Roseburg and I happened to see a notice that Umpqua Community College was having auditions for its summer musical, ‘Peter Pan,’” she said.

“I remembered what fun my high school musicals were, so I auditioned. I was cast as Grown-Up Wendy. There was no turning back.”

Since then, she’s had just about every job in the theater—actor, director, lighting designer, light board operator, sound board operator, and costumer.

Today she is the artistic director of Randall Theatre Company, responsible for choosing and preparing production of all plays, musicals, revues, and other shows produced by the company at its Ghostlight Playhouse, 115 E. Main St. in Medford.

She also assists son John Wing, if needed, with other events booked into the Ghostlight Playhouse. He is executive director of the non-profit Randall, manages the Ghostlight, and books outside events into the venue.

The Ghostlight entertainment and event center was established by the Randall in 2020, after its Fir Street location lease was lost due to the COVID outbreak.

In late summer of 2019, Robin Downward, founder of the Randall, was thinking of closing the Randall permanently so he could pursue other business interests.

“I approached him about the possibility of John and me taking over the Randall and keep it going,” Wing said. “Robin was agreeable and we started making plans.”

They were getting ready to open their first show, “I Do! I Do!,” and had just had the first read-through for “Waiting Star” when COVID shut down most theater companies, including the Randall.

A few months later, the former entertainment venue attached to Howiee’s Restaurant became available and Randall found its new home, renamed the Ghostlight after a web series the Randall was doing during the shutdown called, “Ghostlighting: Theatre in the Darke.”

The Randall/Ghostlight continues to struggle with pandemic-related issues, such as having to cancel performances due to COVID infections, but donations and other Ghostlight bookings have helped financially.

Kathy Wing was born and raised in Roseburg, daughter of a lumber mill worker dad and a newborn-care nurse mom. Music was a big part of her growing up, with tunes of all kinds filing the house from her dad’s extensive record collection.

She sang in church and school choirs and learned to play the clarinet. But there was a turning point of sorts.

“We had a record album of ‘Funny Girl’ and I listened to it all the time,” she said.

“When I was in the seventh grade, something just clicked about the music and the story. I memorized the entire album and used to give performances for anyone who would sit still as I sang and danced along with the album. That was really the beginning.”

She and her husband came to the Rogue Valley in 1998 so they could both take jobs at St. Mary’s School. Michael was the vocal and instrumental music teacher and Kathy taught theater and directed plays and musicals for middle and high school students.

“I got involved with Camelot Theatre in 2004,” she said. “That year I was in ‘Gaslight’ and ‘Oliver.’ The Camelot was still in the old converted feed store at the time. I did a lot of shows there before becoming more involved with the Randall.”

Her longest-term job in the Rogue Valley was at KDRV-TV in the news department.

“I started as a part-time production assistant and ended up working there for 16 years,” she said. “I did just about every job in the department, from live remote operator to news photographer, video editor, and newscast producer.”

She left KDRV in October of 2020 to take the full-time job as artistic director at the Randall, where she had done some directing.

Some of the highlights for her in her earlier Randall days include directing “A Chorus Line” in 2016.

“It was the first mainstage show I directed at the Randall,” she said. “We had a great cast and the show was really special.”

Her memories of directing “Blues in the Night” in 2018 at the Randall are bittersweet.

“The music!” she exclaimed. “Jazz and blues from the 1930s and 1940s. We had a powerhouse group of singers in Jennifer Abdo, Kristen Calvin, Rose Passione and Brandt Nakamura. The set was beautiful, the lighting was stunning.”

But while they were in rehearsals for the show, her husband Michael died.

“The cast rallied around me and carried on to make the show amazing.”

Wing looks forward to more normal times and more amazing performances as the theater industry pulls out of the pandemic in fits and starts.

After COVID interruptions of “Waiting Star,” she has hopes of reopening the show this weekend. Check facebook.com/randalltheatre/ for updates and more information.

Next on the docket for Wing is “Nunsense,” scheduled for Dec. 2-18.

Reach writer Jim Flint at jimflint.ashland@yahoo.com.