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SEATTLE TIMES — As summer approaches, many Puget Sound residents will head down to Ashland, Oregon, a town whose attractions never do seem to fade.

If you’re unfamiliar, Ashland is a picturesque — but not overly kitschy — town, a family-friendly gateway to outdoor adventures; boutique shopping; all the craft beers, espresso drinks, gourmet eats and bookstores one might crave; and — oh, yes — the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF), a nationally respected, multistage theater complex that’s one of the largest and oldest theater companies in the country.

Travelers from the Seattle area are a big part of the OSF audience each year. And while summer is the busiest season, Ashland is also a pleasant destination into the autumn.

Where and what

With its welcoming main street of shops and cafes, many cozy hotels and B & B’s, lovely Lithia Park and its proximity to the Rogue River (a prime site for rafting), this small town in Southern Oregon welcomes tens of thousands of tourists annually.

But the biggest draw is OSF, a three-stage theater complex. Founded in 1935, it’s one of the oldest theater companies in North America. It’s also one of the largest, with a budget of $30 million-plus and a sizable company of resident actors and artisans. It’s presenting 11 plays and musicals in a 2019 season that runs from March through late October.

Over the past 12 years, under the command of outgoing artistic director Bill Rauch, OSF has diversified its offerings, casts and directing pool substantially. And the stage fare extends well beyond Shakespeare to Broadway musicals, world-premiere plays and contemporary classics.


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