ashland.news
June 13, 2024

Rogue Theater Company unveils star-studded 2024 season lineup

Rogue Theater Company Artistic Director Jessica Sage shares details of the company's blockbuster 2024 season with a large, enthusiastic crowd of donors at a reveal party Saturday, Jan. 6, in the Ashland home of Dick and Elaine Sweet. Jim Flint photo
January 7, 2024

Four plays and a Shakespeare seminar fill March-November season

By Jim Flint for Ashland.news

After Rogue Theater Company’s record-setting 2023 season, topping it might be hard to believe.

Believe it.

At a reveal party for donors Saturday, Jan. 6, RTC announced its 2024 season, showcasing a roster of actors and directors that reads like a who’s who of Oregon Shakespeare Festival troupers.

“Even if you’ve never heard of the compelling and unpredictable plays we’ve chosen, the actors and directors in our 2024 season are enough to make me and our audiences beyond excited,” said RTC Artistic Director Jessica Sage.

All performances will be presented in RTC’s theater space at Grizzly Peak Winery, 1600 E. Nevada St., Ashland.

Rogue Theater Company Artistic Director Jessica Sage gives a pre-performance talk at RTC’s stage at Grizzly Peak Winery. The company’s 2024 season will feature a star-studded roster of 22 actors and directors. Bob Palermini photo
Dynamic duo

The season will open March 13-31 with “Off Peak,” written by Brenda Withers, directed by Robynn Rodriguez, and starring the wife-husband team of Robin Goodrin Nordli and Michael Elich, both OSF veterans.

It’s their second appearance on the RTC stage. In 2022, they performed in “Chapatti,” a play about two lonely people who meet and fall in love. Reviewer Lee Juillerat praised their performances as “nuanced” and “played with unflinching honesty.”

“Off Peak” centers on two old flames who bump into each other on the evening commuter train, only to have different views of their shared past threaten to derail their connection.

“It is a charming new play about forgiving, forgetting, and the healing dynamic of getting stopped in one’s tracks,” Sage said.

Robin Goodrin Nordli and Michael Elich, seen here in a 2022 performance for RTC, will star in “Off Peak” for the company March 13-31. Bob Palermini photo
Woronicz returns
Henry Woronicz

Then May 2-5, former OSF artistic director Henry Woronicz will direct a play reading of “August Osage County,” written by Tracy Letts. The play takes a look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to their Oklahoma homestead.

The 13-member cast includes Linda Alper, Kjerstine Anderson, Denis Arndt, Wayne Carr, Rainbow Dickerson, Michael Elich, Michael Hume, Samantha Miller, James Ryen, Barret O’Brien, Caroline Shaffer, Vilma Silva and K.T. Vogt.

Woronicz still has numerous friends and colleagues in the Rogue Valley, and has been in and out of Ashland many times over the years.

Denis Arndt

“Even though I have spent the last nearly 30 years directing and acting and teaching around the country, Ashland, with its spirit of creativity and dedication to and love of the arts, has always remained strongly in my heart,” he said. “So, it’s a real joy to come back and contribute in some way to that.”

Woronicz knows many of the actors and directors who Sage has engaged at RTC, and has watched the company grow over the past few years.

“I have a real admiration for Jessica’s tenacity, for the high quality of the work she is mounting, and the great artists she is gathering together. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to become involved with those efforts,” he said.

“And the cast? Well, it’s an A-list of thoroughbred horses, many of whom are old friends from my time at OSF.”

15 characters, 2 actors
Dan Donohue

From July 17 to Aug. 4, Dan Donohue and Ray Porter will portray extras on a Hollywood film set in rural Ireland in “Stones in His Pockets,” written by Marie Jones and directed by John Plumpis. Donohue and Porter also portray 13 other characters in a hilarious clash of cultures that pits gritty reality against Hollywood endings.

Donohue, who performed at OSF for 11 seasons, last appeared there in the eponymous role of the company’s 2014 production of “Richard III.”

“Ashland was my home for years,” Donohue said. “I still think of it as my artistic home. It’s certainly my ‘happy place’ and I can’t wait to be back.”

Donohue and Porter have been pals for 30 years.

“We fare well as a comic duo — so long as we curb our laughter long enough to actually rehearse,” he said. “This play is full of heart and hilariously funny.”

Donohue and director John Plumpis spent five years on the road together performing “The Lion King,” Donohue as Scar and Plumpis as Timon.

“It is our good fortune to have John’s comic brilliance in the mix, leading the way,” he said.

Porter, at OSF for 18 seasons, is also an award-winning audiobook narrator. He’s been hearing about the “consistently good work” RTC has been doing.

“I’ve missed doing theater,” he said. “And now I have he chance to work with a good friend on a really challenging play. And to do the play in Ashland is something I wouldn’t miss for the world.”

Shakespeare sessions

On Sept. 14 and 15, Shakespeare scholar and actor Barry Kraft will lead a seminar on “Macbeth” and “Much Ado About Nothing.” Held at a private home in Ashland, the sessions will allow attendees to participate in person, via Zoom, or receive them as videos.

Kraft, Jessica Sage’s husband, will cover new material about both plays each day.

The finale

“Gidion’s Knot” will round out the season Oct. 13 – Nov. 10. Written by Johnna Adams and directed by Terri McMahan, the play explores a mother and teacher’s experience of coping with sorrow and discovers the truth behind their shared grief.

Domenique Lozano

Domenique Lozano and Erica Sullivan will star in the play.

“Gideon’s Knot” won a New Play Award and a $7,500 prize in 2012 from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association.

RTC was founded in 2019, and began its collaboration with Grizzly Peak Winery during the pandemic. Improvements to the performing space in 2023 included new lighting, a state-of-the-art sound system, and raised seating.

“Our team works in a collaborative environment,” Sage said, “with OSF artists past and present, and a vast pool of extraordinary talent throughout the Rogue Valley.”

For more information and to purchase tickets, go to roguetheatercompany.com or call 541-205-9190. And beginning Jan. 10, RTC’s box office will be open Wednesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at 389 E. Main St. in downtown Ashland, in the Ashland Independent Film Festival office.

Reach writer Jim Flint at jimflint.ashland@yahoo.com.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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