Oakdale Community Theatre may not be active this holiday season, but several of its principal actors have found neighboring stages and productions to lend their talents to.
From as near as the Oakdale High School Theatre to neighboring Stockton Civic Theatre, as well as Sonora’s Stage 3 and Sierra Repertory theatres, Oakdale actors remain busy.
Principal actors Chloe Kerr and David Rodrigues shared the stage of the Oakdale High School Theatre during the late summer production of “Annie.” At the tender age of 8, the young actress was cast in the lead role of Annie and Rodrigues was cast as Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks. The chemistry the two shared on stage during the production was undeniable.
As the play developed, so, too, did the bond and relationship between the veteran stage actor and the novice with natural skills.
“She’s a natural,” Rodrigues stated to The Leader in a story that ran during the production’s run. “She just gets it.”
While the two actors may not be sharing a stage this holiday season, they have been sharing the same stretch of highway. Both actors were cast in Sonora theatre productions in late September and have been ships — or, more accurately, cars — passing in the night ever since.
The young Chloe, now 9 and a fourth grade student at Cloverland Elementary School, was cast in the role Susan Waverly for Sierra Repertory’s musical production of “White Christmas.”
The young actress learned of the role when the director of the production sent an e-mail to her mother, Jennifer Kerr.
“The director had seen Annie and he shot me an e-mail,” mom Jennifer said. “He said he would love to have our daughter audition.”
Once cast in the role of Susan, the young actress quickly went to work learning her lines.
“She memorized the entire script by the first rehearsal,” Jennifer said.
“I really like memorizing lines,” Chloe said. “I think it’s fun.”
Acknowledging she is in more of a supportive role in this production, she stated, “Susan is a lot like Annie, but not so big of a role.
“It’s really been amazing to work with professionals because they teach me so much.”
The sold out show opened in October and concludes its 50-show run this weekend. Each week since October the young actress has been on stage for eight performances a week … all while maintaining her regular school schedule.
“Her teachers are amazing,” Jennifer said. “They have been over the moon amazing. I mean she just made the honor roll. It’s crazy, because it is like we have this totally separate night life, but she loves it.”
And with balance seemingly achieved, it looks like the stage will continue to be a second home.
“As long as she’s having fun, we’ll be there to support her,” Jennifer said of her daughter’s acting. “My favorite thing is that Chloe still enjoys nine-year-old things. She was just as excited about a school play as she is this.”
The young actress does, however, recognize the difference between acting at the local high school and an actual venue.
“It’s much more serious,” she said, “and it’s demanding, but it’s really fun, though. Working with the people is really amazing. I like challenging myself to do new things.”
As for the tight three-week rehearsal schedule, which led to the 50-performance run, the young actress shared the philosophy she embraces to help make each show special.
“You have to live in the moment, like you’re living it for the first time,” she said.
Embracing that same philosophy, on another Sonora stage, David Rodrigues busies himself in the role of El Gallo.
A few short weeks following the closing of the Oakdale Community Theatre production of “Annie,” Rodrigues hit the road headed for Sonora to audition for the Stage 3 Theatre production of “The Fantasticks.”
“I wanted to be in this show because it’s a classic,” Rodrigues said. “It played for 42 years off Broadway.”
As for the part of El Gallo, Rodrigues admitted it was the part he had hoped for, describing the character as, “very macho … not really a bad guy, but more like a spirit.
“He tries to teach the young people a lesson and takes them on a journey. He is the narrator of the show, sort of the ring master.”
“The Fantasticks” is the story of two fathers who trick their children, Luisa and Matt, into falling in love by pretending to feud with one another.
This is the fourth time Rodrigues has performed at Stage 3 and while he admits to not thinking of himself as a “musical” actor, he does not let that keep him from a part.
“I’ve never been very comfortable with musicals, but I force myself and I think it helps me,” he said.
According to the actor, the Stage 3 Theatre is an intimate theatre, seating 85 in a three-quarters seating theatre.
“The audience is seated around the stage,” he said. “That’s the type of theatre it plays best in.”
As Rodrigues traveled each way for rehearsals and performances, he had the good fortune of not being alone. Eldest daughter Madeleine was also cast in the production in the role of the Mute.
“It’s been a lot of fun working with my daughter,” Rodrigues said of their close on stage roles.
“The audience has been drawn to her. They have really been captured by her and she doesn’t even say a word,” he said. “She’s done a wonderful job.”
Drive time headed ‘up the hill’ has also been beneficial.
“She helps me work on my vocals on the way up,” Rodrigues explained of their commute from Oakdale to the theatre. “The irony of this whole show is that Madeleine has the best voice of the whole cast.”
The seasoned actor shared that the setting of the theatre requires the actors to be at their best for every performance.
“The setting is probably what is different,” he said. “You have to be right on because the audience is right there. There is nothing to hide behind.”
But it also helps bring out the best, Rodrigues added.
“It’s a different type of energy, being that close. There’s a little something for everyone there,” the actor said, “music, comedy, drama. You go away feeling good.
“People actually come through the (reception) line crying, which makes me feel wonderful … it’s great to hear people say ‘you’ve touched my heart’.”
“The Fantasticks” continues to play at Stage 3 Theatre through Sunday, Dec. 19. For tickets and information call 536-1778 or visit www.stage3.org.