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Ben Vereen, 'Fame,' 'Defending the Caveman' among Craterian's 2016-17 shows

Craterian Performances today announced its 20th season with an 11-month lineup that includes 19 touring shows, plus multiple local productions by Teen Musical Theater of Oregon, Next Stage Repertory Company, the Craterian Music Hall series, a Southern Oregon University production and the 14th annual GingerBread Jubilee.

The community-supported nonprofit organization that owns and operates the 732-seat Craterian Theater at The Collier Center for the Performing Arts in Medford offers a diverse annual season of music, comedy, musical theater, dance, drama and spectacle shows.

Award-winning master trumpeter and composer Chris Botti returns to the Craterian as the season-opening headliner on Sept. 11. Other celebrity music acts include Michael Feinstein, known as “The Ambassador of the American Songbook,” on Nov. 9 and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on Oct. 15. Legendary and energetic star of stage and screen Ben Vereen brings his songs, dancing and inspiring life stories to town on March 25, 2017.

Other musical offerings include Craterian audience favorite Jim Witter with his “I Write the Songs: A Tribute to Barry Manilow” performance on Nov. 4. The Quebe Sisters blend swing, vintage country, jazz, bluegrass and champion Texas-style fiddling with their show on March 19, 2017. Semi-Toned, the men’s a cappella group from the United Kingdom's University of Exeter, combines music, humor, personality and choreography in its “Game of Tones” concert on April 8.

Touring musicals this season include “Chick Flick the Musical,” a celebration of women’s friendships, on Sept. 22-24; “Once,” the Tony Award-winning stage adaptation of the 2007 film, on Nov. 1; international phenomenon “Fame the Musical” on Jan. 16, 2017; the nostalgia-inducing “Pump Boys and Dinettes” on Jan. 20; and the existential tale of the young prince “Pippin” on June 6.

For comedy fans, "Defending the Caveman," the longest-running solo play in Broadway history, will explore the gender gap on Feb. 11, 2017. Masters of improv Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood from “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” will take over the Craterian stage and use audience inspiration for their comedy and skits on May 19, 2017.

In the spectacle category, this season includes the “extreme sports” style of athleticism, aerobatics and physical dance theater of "architecture in motion” troupe Diavolo on Oct. 4. On March 30, 2017, high-tech lighting and projection combine with dance and cirque nouveau arts for the “Gravity of Center” show by Quixotic.

A beloved Craterian tradition for the holidays, Tomáseen Foley’s "A Celtic Christmas" features Irish music, song, dance and stories by the Rogue Valley’s own Irish-born son in two shows on Dec. 23.

The Step Crew delivers an amalgam of Ottawa Valley stepdance, Irish stepdance and modern tap along with champion fiddlers and a five-piece band on Feb. 10, 2017. Northwest Dance Project returns to the Craterian on April 22, 2017, bringing a fresh repertoire of contemporary works full of its signature creative athleticism.

The Craterian organization’s partnership with the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University continues with the May 26-28 presentations of "Peter and the Starcatcher," the Tony Award-winning prequel to the story of Peter Pan.

Teen Musical Theater of Oregon, Craterian Performances’ youth theater program, will present Disney’s "The Little Mermaid" on Aug. 5-6 and 11-13, "The Addams Family" Oct. 27-29 and "Anything Goes" March 3-5.

Craterian Performances’ Next Stage Repertory Company offers three productions in 2016-2017: Alan Ayckbourn's raucous comedy "Taking Steps" Sept. 8-10, Neil Simon’s "The Odd Couple" Jan. 6-7 and 13-14, and Ernest Thompson’s "On Golden Pond" April 13-15.

The popular Craterian Music Hall concert series includes "A Gospel Christmas: A Celebration of the Season" Dec. 9-10 and 16-17, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" Feb. 2-4 and another installment of the “Legends of the Road” series, honoring the music of The Rolling Stones and featuring Jeff Pevar and the Pillbox Messengers May 11-13.

The 14th annual GingerBread Jubilee includes a gingerbread design-and-create competition, benefit auction and community tour. All proceeds benefit Craterian Performances. The GingerBread Jubilee auction is Nov. 18, followed by the Community Tour Nov. 19-21.

A free community event, the 16th annual "Stars on Stage: Celebrating State Soloists" on April 23, will feature Jackson County winners of the District 8 high school solo music competition.

Rogue Valley Silver Stars will once again feature deliberation by judges and People’s Choice audience voting to honor top talent from among our region’s seniors and retirement living communities on April 1.

This season, a new “bundling” opportunity is available to ticket buyers who will receive a discount when they purchase a themed set of shows such as “Girls Night Out” ("Chick Flick the Musical," "Music Hall: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and "Defending the Caveman"), “Broadway Blockbusters” (three touring musicals), or the three-show series of Teen Musical Theater of Oregon, Next Stage Repertory Company or Craterian Music Hall performances.

Member-priority ticket orders will be processed in each membership level according to date received, beginning June 7 and continuing for five weeks. The box office, at 16 S. Bartlett, Medford, opens for public sales on July 12. The Box Office phone is 541-779-3000. Internet sales are set to begin on July 19.

More information on the theater and its programs is available at www.craterian.org.

Rachel Joyce stars as one of four friends who get together to watch a chick flick and play their favorite drinking game to hilarious consequences in 'Chick Flick the Musical,' at the Craterian Sept. 22-24. Photo courtesy the Craterian
Diavolo brings its 'architecture in motion' dance and acrobatics to the Craterian on Oct. 4. Photo by Katie Girtman