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The 39 Steps” Oregon Cabaret Theater Sept 10 — Nov 8, 2015


The 39 Steps

The 39 Steps

The 39 Steps

Based on the novel by John Buchan
Adapted by Patrick Barlow from an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon

A man with a boring mundane life finds himself pursued by a mysterious organization known only as the ‘39 Steps’.  Soon after, a woman he just met is murdered in his apartment. Part Hitchcock masterpiece, part spy novel, part over-the-top comedy, this two-time Tony-winning play is a fast-paced whodunit featuring more than a 150 characters, all played by a talented ensemble of four, featuring an onstage plane crash, a chase on top of moving train cars, some old-fashioned romance and, of course, non-stop laughs.

Plays from September 10 – November 8, for tickets go to the Oregon Cabaret Theatre,

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Sweat” New York Times Review


Sweat” Lynn Nottage’s latest play reviewed by the New York Time

Sweat

Lynn Nottage’s “Sweat”

Sweat” is being hailed as one of the best plays of the 2015 Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s season by many of the Chanticleer Inn’s guests and now the New York Times.

To read the review go to the NYT’s article.   Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s website has more information on “Sweat”.

Tickets for “Sweat” are going fast, especially on weekends.

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The Britt Commissions Composer Michael Gordon


Britt Festivals commission composer Michael Gordon to capture the Crater Lake’s essence in sound.

By Bill Varble, for the Mail Tribune

Michael Gordon

Michael Gordon to capture Crater Lake in Sound

Never mind the sound of one hand clapping. If Crater Lake were a symphony, what would it sound like? The question is no mere Zen koan. The Britt Music and Arts Festival has commissioned composer Michael Gordon to create a major musical work inspired by Oregon’s only national park.
Britt Music Director Teddy Abrams announced the ambitious project Saturday night at the last concert of Britt’s classical festival for 2015. The composition will have its world premiere the last weekend of July 2016 at the lake with the aim of connecting the iconic park’s unique vibe with an orchestra of 30 or 40 classical musicians performing live. Admission will be free.
The idea for a site-specific composition stemmed from Imagine Your Parks, a National Endowment for the Arts project celebrating the centennial of our nation’s national parks, a system that was created in August 1916. Britt officials have submitted a request for a matching grant of $100,000 to the NEA. The Neuman Hotel Group of Ashland has stepped up as the first major sponsor.
Michael Gordon, who lives in New York City, will make his first visit to the park this week when he and Abrams meet with park officials. He says the goal is to get a sense of the place.
“There’s a lot of sound in nature,” he says. “There’s rain and wind, thunder, birds, the rustling of leaves. But we push this stuff to the background and think about our walk or our drive.”
Abrams says the idea is to link the music specifically with the place.
“We want to use the actual park in the music as opposed to just having a concert there,” he says.
Famed for its beauty and its intensely blue water, Crater Lake was created nearly 7,000 years ago when so much material blew out of a half-million-year-old lava cone that the mountain collapsed, creating a caldera that filled with water from rain and snowmelt. It is the deepest lake in the United States and is noted for the purity of its water. It became a national park in 1902 only after a 17-year fight to preserve it led by William Gladstone Steel.
Michael Gordon is no stranger to translating famous places and our associations with them into structures of sound. In recent years he’s created major compositions based on New York City, Los Angeles and Beijing.
Over the last 25 years, he’s created music for a long list of major orchestras and high-energy ensembles.
In the past year or so alone, Gordon’s compositions have had world premieres performed by the Ensemble Modern, the Dublin Guitar Quartet and the New World Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.
Critic Alex Ross, writing in The New Yorker, said Gordon’s music combines “the fury of punk rock, the nervous brilliance of free jazz and the intransigence of classical modernism.”
Gordon says he plans to visit Crater Lake, where he will be artist-in-residence, often in the coming months.
“You have to live with it,” Abrams says.
Although it’s much too early to say, Gordon is thinking that the composition might have three sections, each dealing with a different aspect of nature at the park, such as trees, animals and ultimately the merging of environmental sound and music. He says he thinks of the results to come as a “symphonic tone poem.”
His compositions cast a wide net. “Dystopia,” his L.A. piece, begins with a lyrical and pensive movement and soon suggests out-of-control sprawl. “Gotham,” his New York City composition, begins with a musical evocation of the kind of quiet place New Yorkers search for as a respite from crowds and skyscrapers and traffic and city noises.
“It’s very personal, of course,” he says of creating a musical response to a place.
He’s not the first to do so, he adds, mentioning George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” and Ferde Grofe’s “Grand Canyon Suite.”
He says the biggest hurdle in such an undertaking is finding a starting place.
“The first note is always the hardest,” Gordon says. “I usually sit around and stare off into space.”
Sometimes a musical theme will come to him in a dream.
“It’s always the greatest music I’ve ever heard,” he says. “The next day it’s never as good.”
Although the project is still in the conceptual stages, Britt officials say there will be at least two free performances at the park, perhaps with musicians dotting the landscape and playing here and there as visitors approach the site of the actual concert, which will be in full view of the lake.
Other plans include transporting veterans to the concert and possibly working with Southern Oregon University students to create a visual arts component.

Reach Medford freelance writer Bill Varble at varble.bill@gmail.com.

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Daedalus Project — August 24, 2015


Daedalus Project's 2015 Poster

Daedalus Project’s 2015 Poster

Daedalus Project — August 24, 2015

The Daedalus Project, in its 28th year, is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s annual ‘talent show’ event to raise money to end the spread of HIV/AIDS, and to remember and celebrate those who have died from this disease.

There are two events on August 24th.  For the afternoon there’s a play reading and in the evening in the Elizabethan theater a variety show.  Both promise to be entertaining and inspiring events.

Daedalus Play Reading

Daedalus Play Reading

Tickets for the Reading are $25. Tickets for the Variety Show are $30–35. To purchase tickets for the Variety Show online, click on August 24 on the calendar above; or call the Box Office at 800–219-8161. For the Play Reading, visit the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s webpage here here.

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Head Over Heels” a Review


Head Over Heels”
A Review by Desiree Remick

Play by Jeff Whitty
Music and Lyrics by the Go-Go’s,
Directed by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar

7–14-15

Head Over Heels

John Tufts, the clown, in “Head Over Heels”

Head Over Heels”, true to its name, throws you head over heels into a world of enchanting musical madness, where entire kingdoms can pack up and hit the road on vacation, where a man disguised as an Amazon can be mistaken for a dainty lady in the dark, where the ability to dance is mandatory, and where everyone embraces her (or his) inner goddess. The play is three hours (with intermission), which in my opinion is a little excessive for a musical – but entertaining the whole way through. It blends old-fashioned themes and archaic language with modern speech and politics for a unique timeless flavor. Someone who struggles to understand Shakespeare and another who abhors twenty-first century lingo could find equal enjoyment in this theatre piece.
The play opens in the small kingdom of Arcadia, whose inhabitants are lifted from the 16th century Sir Philip Sidney classic of the same name. Duke Basilius tries his luck with an oracle and receives an unwelcome prophesy in four parts: first, that his eldest daughter will find love, but not with a man; second, that his younger daughter will take a liar to bed; third, that he and his wife will both commit adultery – with the same person, no less; and finally that before the year is out he will have given away his own crown. The good duke, who is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, announces his intent to take an extended ‘road trip’ to neighboring Bohemia, in an attempt to thwart his destiny. But of course, you can’t run away from fate.
There is drama. There is romance. There is comedy (much of it genuinely funny, which is not something that should be taken for granted). There is a lot of innuendo, breaking of the fourth wall, clever jokes and asides tailored to a knowledgeable audience – plenty of references that will slip past the kids – and don’t forget the music! There’s even a sword fight, which ends in the most unexpected way.

I did have some issues with the play as well. It takes an onerously long time to get going (long enough that the actors themselves start joking about it), and the ending also drags a bit. While the message of acceptance is a solid one, there are a few times where the writers allowed their enthusiasm to overflow, which resulted in a few unnecessary scenes and a soliloquy that does not fit with the rest of the script’s tone. Oh, and if your hearing is sensitive or you are prone to getting headaches from too much noise, I advise that you bring a pair of earplugs. The music is quite loud, and I was especially unfortunate in my seating arrangement, which placed me in front of some people who laughed and whistled directly into my ear at every chance.

In conclusion, however, I found “Head Over Heels” to be a lot of fun. If you love musicals or wild tales in the vein of Shakespeare, if you are a supporter of gay rights and the LGBT community, or if you just like to have a good time, this play is an evening well spent.

Mount McLoughlin View from Grizzly Peak


Mount McLoughlin from Grizzly Peak’s Trail Head

Mount McLoughlin

Mount McLoughlin

Mount McLoughlin, easily viewable from the Rogue Valley, is a “Fujiyama-esque” lava cone built on top of a composite volcano.  For most years, and sometimes all year round, there usually is snow on top.  Lately however due to the lack of winter rains, this mountain is bare and brown — like too many other peaks in the Cascades.

Its elevation is about 9,495 feet.  When I see that number, I always think, surely a team of burly and determined youths should haul up rocks and dirt to obtain an extra 5 feet so the height would be a nice round 9,500 ft.

 

 

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Hiking in Ashland: the TID Ditch Today


Hiking in Ashland

Rocks, Moss and Madrones while hiking in Ashland

Hiking in Ashland

It’s easy to do hiking in Ashland … go out the front door and walk uphill a few blocks.  There are wonderful trails and country roads all throughout the “water shed” — an area that forms the foothills of Mt. Ashland.
Today I walked along “the ditch”, as the locals refer to the Talent Irrigation District Ditch.  A water way source that comes from the mountain lakes in the Cascades, the ditch was built in the early part of the last century for agricultural use around Ashland.  Now it’s a back up source, if/when the water from Mt. Ashland dips too low.

I love hiking in Ashland, you can get out into the country within mere minutes.

For more information go to the Ashland Trails Organization website

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Cabaret done by Oregon Cabaret Theatre, May 28 — Aug 30, 2015


Cabaret

Cabaret

Cabaret

Come see Kander & Ebb’s classic musical as you’ve never seen it before as the Oregon Cabaret space is transformed into the Kit Kat Klub in all of its 1930s Berlin decadence.

Cabaret plays from May 28 to August 30, 2015

For tickets go to Oregon Cabaret Theatre.

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Wild Flowers on Lower Table Rock Trail


Lower Table Rock Trail flower

Cascade Mariposa Lily

Lower Table Rock Trail

This is one of my  favorite springtime trails, especially during the mid-week. I like that it goes through a few distinct eco-systems, each with its own set of wild flowers. The trail starts from the car park and briefly goes through oak savannah, where you see meadow/woodland flowers, such as camas, buttercups, mariposa lilies, shooting stars, with white oak trees and chaparral.  The trail then steadily winds through more forested and shady section as it climbs up the side of the mesa.  On top of the mesa, is where you can see the mounded prairie and vernal pool plant communities.  The meadow flowers that form concentric circles around the vernal pools are especially striking.  Depending on how much spring rain we get, the vernal pools might be seen as late as early May.  It’s usually better to go in April.

Lower table rock trail vernal pools

Last of the vernal pools with fields of Gold on top of Lower Table Rock Trail

 

 

The Table Rock vernal pools are micro-ecosystems of habitat that support a federally threatened species of fairy shrimp and a state endangered plant called dwarf wooly meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccosa ssp. pumila). This plant is endemic to the Table Rocks, meaning it is found nowhere else in the world.

You can see Mt. McLoughlin and Mt Ashland from the top of the mesa, as well as the Rogue Valley floor stretching south toward the Siskiyous.

 Directions

From Interstate 5, take Exit #33 heading east one mile on East Pine Street and turn north (left) at the second signal onto Table Rock Road.  Drive 10 miles to Wheeler Road and turn west (left).  The sign for Lower Table Rock Trail is well posted. The trail head is accessible off of Wheeler Road.

Lower Table Rock trail

Arrowleaf balsamroot

Details of the Lower Table Rock Trail

The trail is 1.75 miles long. It is a moderately difficult trail approximately .5 miles longer than Upper Table Rock Trail. Lower Table Rock Trail offers interpretive signs for hikers. Water is not available along the trail or at the trailhead. Allow approximately 4 hours for a round trip hike.

For those eager to extend their hike, you may enjoy walking along the abandoned airstrip to the edge of the rock. This will add an extra mile to your trip. The south edge of the rock offers a great view of the unique habitat of Kelly Slough. This wetland lies 800 feet below and provides unique habitat for many aquatic birds.

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Lithia Park Nature Walks — Free


Lithia Park Nature Walks

Ashland Creek

Guided Lithia Park Nature Walks — Free

From May to September, no matter the weather, a trained docent naturalists will lead a fun, informative and easy 1.5 hour nature walk through Ashland’s gem — Lithia Park.

Topics include: trees, flowers, birds, climate, water and history of the park.

Days: Sunday, Wednesday and Friday (Saturday in July and August)
Time: 10 am
Meeting point: park entrance nearest the Plaza

And yes, you can do it all!  You can enjoy the Chanticleer breakfast and get to the nature walk on time without being rushed.