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OHS Freshman Appears In YES Company Show
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Oakdale High School freshman Evan Murray, 13, will soon grace the stage of the Gallo Theater for Performing Arts for his third consecutive production with the Stanislaus County Office of Educations YES (Youth Entertainment Stage) Company. Summer 2016 marks the 25th Anniversary of the performing arts group. Teresa Hammond/The Leader

Evan Murray might best be described as a ‘shy’ kid. A label neither he nor his parents would dispute.

To sit in the company of the 13-year-old Oakdale High School incoming freshman, one would quickly learn the student can better be described as a gentle soul or simply kindhearted.

Contrary to stereotypes and labels, however, Evan loves to perform.

Later this week the OHS student will grace the stage of Gallo Performing Arts in his third run with YES (Youth Entertainment Stage) Company as they celebrate the group’s 25th Anniversary. Celebrating its 25th year YES Company will present Les Misérables, School Edition, with students and alumni from throughout Stanislaus County schools. Performances will be staged July 22, 28 and 29 at 7:30 p.m. and July 23, 24, 30 and 31 at 3 p.m. Tickets are available on line at www.galloarts.org.

YES Company is a special project of Stanislaus County Office of Education and Education Foundation of Stanislaus County. The multi-faceted theater program began in 1992 thanks to the vision and passion of Artistic Director Melanee Wyatt. It is reported that over 1,000 students representing every school from throughout the county have participated in a YES production.

YES Company is targeted at students in grades 7-12; with YES Kiddettes offering theater growth opportunities to younger students throughout the county in first through fifth grades.

Evan shared he first discovered his love for acting while attending Fair Oaks Elementary School and being a participant in the Wizard of Oz, some years ago. The elementary school production was staged by the OJUSD after school recreation program. He also enjoys singing and has been active in choir groups since fourth grade.

“I just like acting and thought I’d give this a try,” Evan said of his first attempt with YES Company during the summer of 2015. He was cast in an ensemble role for the 2015 production of Mary Poppins, as well as taking part in Doctor Doolittle Junior in late 2015 with YES Kiddettes.

“I just like how it brings a group of people together,” he added of his equal love for choir. “They really learn together.

“It’s just like the play,” he continued. “It’s a big commitment when you do choir. I know I’m the shy one in my family, but making new friends can mean making new experiences.”

The time commitment to such a big production is not one lost on Evan or his parents. Much of their summer is spent driving their son between Oakdale and Modesto for rehearsals, fittings and the like. The student and his mom Heather, shared on average he attends rehearsal five days a week, six hours a day on some occasions. In an ensemble role, a good portion of that can be just simply sitting and waiting.

“We didn’t know what we were getting into last summer,” Heather shared. “It’s definitely a parental commitment, as well as for the kids. He enjoys it and we support him.”

“It takes all you summer,” Evan admitted. “You get like a week off and then you’re back on rehearsal.”

The time commitment and long days, however, don’t seem to be of concern to the performing enthusiast.

“It just motivates me,” he said of performing. “I make new friends every time I act and I like that very much.”

Evan will once again appear in ensembles roles for this production. He was also cast as ensemble for the OHS production of Wizard of Oz last spring.

For additional information on YES Company or YES Kiddettes visit www.yescompany.org.