The old Ross Ragland Theater is still going strong

Klamath Falls, Ore. – The area here is known as the gateway to Crater Lake National Park, along with breathtakingly beautiful hiking trails and year-round bird watching. Many come to Klamath Falls for outdoor recreation, but the city also holds many gems.

One is the statuesque Ross Ragland Theater and Cultural Center, which recently received a grant from the Avista Foundation. The stunning art deco building began its life as The Esquire Theater in 1940.

“It was a movie theater in that great art deco style that was so popular,” said Curtis L. Peoples, the executive director of the Ross Ragland Theater and Cultural Center. “In the mid-80s, it was scheduled for demolition, but a group of people got together to save it. It reopened in 1989, and the first theater production was The Music Man.”

Peoples is relatively new to the executive director position, which he took in November 2023 after moving permanently here from Texas. He has a background in sound engineering and music, and he is very excited about keeping Ragland vibrant.

His dream is to update the theater’s light and sound systems, which he hopes will give audiences an even better experience.

“I hope to be able to modernize the technology a bit,” Peoples said. “It is great as it is, but it quickly gets outdated.”

While traditional theater and musical productions are continuing—including concerts by the much-loved Klamath Symphony—Peoples is introducing more contemporary music.

“Pam Tillis was just here and she played for a packed house. People loved it,” Peoples said. “We want to do more music shows that appeal to the entire population here.” Fall and summer plans include contemporary Christian performers and rock’n’roll, and spring will bring a co-performance of the symphony and a Beatles tribute band.

The 2024-25 season is the theater’s 35th anniversary. Peoples said there are plans for a big open house conversation with community stakeholders, sponsors, and volunteers.

“We want to hear what people want from us, what they need, so we can include the whole community in what we do,” Peoples said.

The Ross Ragland Theater has an eight-person staff plus some part-time positions. It’s supported by the Ross Ragland Guild, a large volunteer organization that serves as ushers, ticket sellers, and other support roles.

“We want to be service plus for the touring groups who come here,” Peoples said, adding that they want to get the word out that the Ross Ragland Theater is a venue that treats performers well, all the way down to whipping up a special dinner.

“We have a commercial kitchen on-site and a chef,” Peoples said. “Just tell us what you like, and we may cook that up for you.”

At Avista, we recognize our unique position gives us the chance to contribute in an impactful way and make a real difference in people’s lives. Since 2002, the Avista Foundation has made grants totaling over $13 million to organizations that support vulnerable and limited income populations, education, and economic and cultural vitality. The foundation is a separate, non-profit organization established by Avista Corp., and does not receive funding from Avista Utilities’ customers through rates. For more information on grant applications and geographical areas covered, please visit

At Local Treasures With Pia we highlight community organizations and places of interest throughout Avista’s coverage area in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. If you know of a great local destination, please email us.

Visit for more information about upcoming shows and events

Learn more


  1. Community
  2. Local Treasures with Pia