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Randall Theatre to expand beyond theater

Randall Theatre Artistic Director Robin Downward is expanding the theater’s entertainment offerings. While maintaining its community theater, the venue will host a variety of performers, including bands, comedians, drag shows, burlesque shows, murder mystery dinners, singles mixers and an improv troupe.

Downward, a director and performer, will continue to act and direct while hosting a new artistic director for the theater.

I met Downward at Mellelo Coffee Roasters in Medford.

EH: Tell me about the Randall Theatre’s new direction.

RD: It’s different styles of things for different kinds of people. The Randall Theatre building is now the Randall Entertainment and Show Hall. It houses the Theatre Company and Event Works Productions. Most of these new events will be hosted under my Event Works production company.

We are still planning on doing live theater. For the theater demographic, there are lots of choices in the Rogue Valley, but there’s no place for people who want entertainment, especially for people between the ages of 21 and 45. There’s bars, bowling and movies. We are looking at that highway 5 corridor, and of attracting those acts that are driving through. That’s what I’m trying to focus on.

Looking at bands, I’m being very selective. We’re concentrating on more of an eclectic style of band that people haven’t really seen in the area. I love the local stuff, but people can see it in a number of other venues. In the Rogue Valley, other than Grants Pass, there are no live entertainment venues that are like this: with a stage, lights and seating, other than the Craterian, or the Holly (when it opens), but those have 600 to 1,200 seats; this has 99. It’s fun and it’s intimate.

The Randall Theatre Company will do basically four main-stage shows a year — comedies, musicals and dramas, with a solid improv troupe that will be in the company and perform in the theater. If someone else that I trust can continue the Randall Theatre Company into the Roaring ’20s, then they’ll have my blessing. The 1920s were a decade where variety and vaudeville acts were still in their heyday. I look at this as the same thing. There’s a lot of negativity in the world right now. There’s a need for this more light-hearted approach.

I love live theater, it’s my heart, it’s my soul. I love what it does for people. That’s why I love doing it. It’s not to glorify myself; it’s not because I’m trying to work out my psychological problems on the stage in lieu of having a psychiatrist. That’s not it. The point is that I enjoy the art, and I enjoy the aspect of people being entertained.

This gives people an opportunity to see other types and forms of entertainment that aren’t being offered in the Rogue Valley in a theater environment. I enjoy the art and the aspect of people being entertained. It’s a performance space. It’s a show hall.

So, looking at this new direction, it’s a wonderful opportunity to do with the Randall Theatre what I love about theater. It’s entertainment. It’s to make people happy, to provoke thought, to make people joyful. I’m excited to have from the sublime to the ridiculous happening here.

Auditions for the Randall Theatre’s next season have just finished. If you would like to be considered for roles in the upcoming musical productions “I Do! I Do!” and “Waiting Star,” contact randalltheatre@gmail.com, or call 541-632-3258. Follow the Randall Theatre on Facebook at facebook.com/randalltheatre.

Evalyn Hansen is a writer and director based in Ashland. To read more interviews with remarkable people, visit her blog at ashlandtheater.net. Email her at evalyn_robinson@yahoo.com.

Robin Downward