Randall Theatre on the ropes
By supplying space for making music videos or hosting meetings, Randall Theatre has discovered new sources of revenue at its downtown Medford performance space, but it is still on the brink of losing its lease.
Southern Oregon folk musician Alice DiMicele booked Randall’s Ghostlight Playhouse, at 115 E. Main St., Tuesday to film a music video promoting the single “For Granted” off her upcoming album “Every Seed We Plant.”
Randall Executive Director John Wing was reminded of countless backstage moments from childhood on up as he watched DiMicele set up her vintage-style chrome microphone and her backup band prepared to take their places for the shoot.
“This is the kind of stuff I love,” Wing said, likening the hustle inside the historic Goldy Building to the moments before a theater performance or watching his dad prepare to play music at church. “Just watching these guys set up, this is what we’re all about.”
In contrast, Wing’s past 14 months have been more focused on scrambling and fundraising as the pandemic dealt the nonprofit one setback after another.
For instance, Randall’s short-lived Ghostlight Grille restaurant was dealt an early blow weeks after opening in May when the pandemic abruptly halted indoor dining. The restaurant — along with regular comedy, trivia, karaoke and brunch events — closed in October.
“At this point we can call it an experiment,” Wing said of the restaurant idea.
The plan was for the restaurant to support the nonprofit’s theatrical endeavors, but between the shutdown and some diners’ resistance to mask mandates, Wing said it “was just another thing that we couldn’t get entirely off the ground.”
“We never got into theater to get into the restaurant business,” Wing said. “It's nice to focus on the performance aspect.”
When the theater signed the lease for the former Howiee’s on Front restaurant location in January — they’ve had the Ghostlight Theater as a livestream performance venue since July 2020 — they had a figure in mind of making $600 per event. Wing said the number seemed doable on paper, but they kept getting thwarted in 2021.
The most recent blow was lost ticket sales from a planned New Year’s Eve concert featuring local band the Rogue Suspects that the nonprofit called off days before the event due to a surge of the highly contagious omicron COVID-19 variant. The nonprofit will likely be able to sell most of the beverages it bought for the event, but the lost revenue is starting to mount.
“It comes to a point where we can’t do any more events because we can’t afford to,” Wing said.
By zeroing in on the building space, however, Wing said they’ve found new sources of revenue they hadn’t considered before.
Last month local filmmaker Dustin Wood rented the space to film his movie, “I’ve Got the Blues,” and other local musicians have voiced interest in renting the theater for rehearsals, according to Wing. Others have inquired about offering improv classes and salsa dance lessons.
“There’s so much that could happen in this room,” Wing said, adding that they could throw in the use of their camera equipment and Ghostlight platform to set themselves apart from other spaces.
In 2022, Wing is hoping to put on a production of “Clue: The Musical” from Feb. 11-27, and a kids summer moviemaking camp.
In order to make it past this week, however, they’ll need to raise $5,000.
They owe $10,000, but Wing said the nonprofit’s landlord has graciously allowed them to pay half of what they owe in installments.
The nonprofit has a GoFundMe campaign at gofundme.com/f/the-ghostlight-playhouse-a-nonprofit-venue. Although the page shows it’s raised $2,775 since September, Wing said those funds have already been allocated.
“We see the same names popping up,” Wing said. “We appreciate that support so much.”
Wing said Randall is pinning its hopes in the next few days on corporate sponsors who may be interested in supporting Randall’s mission while also gaining access to the 2,000-square-foot building as a potential conference area or meeting place for business.
“There’s a lot of room there for sponsors that would want to use this space downtown that’s been empty for so long,” Wing said.
Wing asks any potential sponsors to reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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