It has been a decade since Oakdale High School alum Desiree Juanes last graced the Oakdale High School Theater Stage. Now, the 2010 OHS graduate prepares to delight Bay Area audiences in the portrayal of Pam Lukowski in The Full Monty.
Presented by Bay Area Musicals, (BAM) the show will be staged at San Francisco’s Victoria Theater, 2961 16th St., San Francisco. Opening night is Saturday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. Shows will continue through March 15 and tickets range from $35 to $85 and may be purchased on line at wwwbamsh.org.
“This company has a really great reputation,” Juanes shared of BAM. “They put on really amazing productions. To be cast as the role of Pam in The Full Monty is an awesome opportunity.”
The former Mustang shared she’d worked with the director before and was thrilled at being cast as Pam. With a show that is primarily male, her piece to the story line, while significant it does not require a lot of stage time. To Juanes, however, it’s still an opportunity to learn and grow as an actress.
“I’m learning to have the mindset of someone who has been through marriage, divorce and have an adult child,” Juanes said. All things which she admits to having no experience with, but has enjoyed the challenge.
Following her graduation from Oakdale High, the actress attended Modesto Junior College where she took her time not just completing her entry level education, but also sorting through what would be next.
“My first semester I had no idea what the heck I was doing,” she said of her entry into MJC. Shortly thereafter she switched to theater for her associates degree.
In 2015 she relocated to San Francisco and transferred to San Francisco State. In 2017 she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Drama with a Performance emphasis.
Now as she works by day for a bio tech company, she continues to pursue her passion and dreams of being on stage as an actress. Something which excites her, yet she shared she must remind herself that she’s good enough to be there.
“Did not expect to be in theater,” she shared, noting that she grew up as a singer with her mother who is also a singer. “I didn’t really get into theater until eighth grade. When I got into high school I was focusing on sports.”
As with many in high school, she quickly learned the sports track did not best suit her and switched her interest to the theater. Juanes shared the first OHS production she auditioned for, she was not cast in.
“I learned a big lesson from that,” she recalled. “I decided part of doing theater is you have to keep trying. If you get rejected you can’t give up.”
First discovering a love for city life during a senior trip to New York with the OHS Drama Club, the actress said once settling in San Francisco she felt right at home.
“I love it,” she said of the City by the Bay. “A lot of people said it would be a culture shock, just coming from a small town like Oakdale. The only thing that was shocking was how big it was. I felt I belonged here.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she added of where life began and where it is now. “I loved growing up in Oakdale. It was a great place to grow up.”
Jaunes also stated she still enjoys returning to the Cowboy Capital to visit her parents who still reside in the 95361. As for the lessons she learned through the OHS Drama program she shared there is one which stands out the most.
“Everyone is so very supportive,” she said of learning to build community within your fellow actors, “important and the amount of support we give to one another is really for us to get through those performance and long rehearsals.”
And while she is still getting her feet wet by way of auditions, varying theater groups and maintaining her day job, Juanes would not have it any other way.
“It is a little tiring,” she said, “but that’s part of the sacrifice you have to make to do what you love.”
“We do it because we love to do it,” she continued. “You’ll sacrifice anything to be on that stage and tell the story.”
When she’s on stage, Juanes shared, she loves giving the audience the escape they may not just desire, but actually need. Bringing the characters, as well as the story to life. The embracing of the character and the creation of the set.
“It’s been a blast working with Bay Area Musicals. They have a great reputation and I can see why,” she said of her current theater group.
“When I was in Oakdale my dreams seemed so far out of reach,” she continued. “Just because there’s not a lot of opportunities in the Central Valley as out here, but I wouldn’t let that discourage anybody. It’s still just the beginning for me. You have to work hard for it. Nothing is coming to you.”