Randall Theatre Company of Medford

Previously known as Second Stage Community Theater, the Randall Theatre Company of Medford is brainstorming 2010 productions while trying to find a place to call home.

The business and artistic director for the theater, Robin Downward, continues to aspire to bring community theater to downtown Medford. He and other volunteers hope to stage four productions this year, as well as participate in two to three themed theatrical events.

"I'm looking for the theater to be more than just a theater and a large number of people ... I want them to be involved in not just watching the production but being part of the production," Downward said.

His goals for the theater are threefold — to bring community theater to the Medford area, to promote and expand downtown businesses and to uncover and encourage local talent.

"I want to have a good core group of people, but also have people say, 'Hey, I think I would be good for that part' and come out and audition for it," he said.

Although creating a theater from scratch seemed daunting, he said the project has picked up momentum on its own.

"That's how I know that it's right because it's sort of building itself," he said.

He is working with property owners and community members to find a location to perform temporarily while looking for a permanent location downtown. He anticipates the theater will be able produce its first performance within two months.

"We need what any theater needs — a home, lights, people to assist with costuming," he said. "It's finding people in the area to come out of the woodwork."

Downward is considering the musical, "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," as the group's debut performance, and for future performances, "Arsenic and Old Lace," "School House Rock Live," "Phone Booth," "Man of La Mancha" and "A Christmas Carol."

"Really what I want to do is start doing shows, basically having people come and see that there is a theater available for them," Downward said.

He estimated that to stage its first production, the theater would need about $2,500.

In October, theater volunteers as well as the Southern Oregon Historical Society organized the theater's first fundraiser, the successful "Dr. Maximillion's Museum of Unnatural History." Over five days, more than 1,600 people attended the haunted house, which incorporated spooky characters and a story line.

"We took the typical haunted house and added a plot," Downward said.

"People thought it was interesting and exciting because there were characters involved."

In December, the theater also worked with the Heart of Medford Association at the Winter Lights Festival in Vogel Plaza. Actors dressed as characters such as the Grinch or a sheriff and interacted with people at the festival and also performed a brief production, which involved the Grinch, after his heart had grown big, auditioning for the role of Scrooge from "A Christmas Carol."

In the distant future, Downward said he would like to grow the theater into a performing arts center or academy — The Randall Joseph Academy for Performing Arts.

Downward's passion for theater, especially musical theater, comes from being immersed in it as a child.

He studied dance as a teenager and over the years was involved in community theater, traveling productions and Las Vegas-style shows, and met his wife, a professional dancer for Jerry Jackson Productions, at a show in the South Pacific.

"My earliest memories are being with my family, watching performances, going to rehearsals," he said. "The arts have been around my family. It's been the core piece of my life for as long as I can remember."

When Downward was in third grade, his brother, Randall Joseph, died in an accident. Downward, who was the youngest of seven siblings, said all his brothers and sisters were involved in art, theater, music or dance, but Randall had more talent than all of them.

When Downward learned that Second Stage Theater in New York had a sort of legal lock on the theater's original name, he chose the name Randall Community Theatre as a way to honor the brother who inspired him.

"It's not the most glitzy name, but it was the reason I was doing this whole thing in the first place," he said.

For more information on getting involved with the Randall Theatre Company of Medford, e-mail randalltheatre@gmail.com.

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