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Young actors, singers and creatives will strut their stuff in a livestream theater event Friday, April 17

COURTESY PHOTO: BARLOW HIGH SCHOOL - Actors from Barlow High School prepare for their performance of 'The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940' earlier this year.

High school actors across the state were locked out of their theaters and the pandemic closed some spring shows before they even opened, but some intrepid young performers will tread the virtual boards Friday, April 17, in a livestream performance.

Theater students from more than 20 high schools across Oregon will perform in "Friday Night Spotlights," a live streaming event at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 17. It can be viewed on the Oregon Thespians' YouTube channel at oregonthespians.org. 

"The biggest thing we can replace for these kids is an audience, for them to know that they are part of the community," said Jeff Hall, theater teacher at Jesuit High School and an organizer of the event.

Hosted by Portland actor Isaac Lamb, the livestream will showcase performances from living rooms, kitchens and basements and locations all over the state and will feature leaders from the Oregon arts community and beyond.

Most of the work being featured was originally prepared for Oregon Thespians' annual State Festival, which was to have been April 2-4 in Salem, but was canceled due to the COVID-19 emergency.

The livestream will include musical solos and duets, monologues and scenes, and the work of selected technical theater students in such areas as lighting design, make-up and stage management, the Oregon Thespians said in announcing the livestream.

For example, Andrew Schroeder from Barlow High School will perform the song "Moving Too Fast" from the musical "The Last Five Years" by Jason Robert Brown. Barlow's Sarah Beckers will give a presentation about a make-up design project she had prepared for the State Thespian Festival.

"The state festival is a terrific experience for these students, something for them to experience with their theater community. This is a way to give them a part of that experience," Hall said.

"It's a way for students to display their creative resilience."

Young thespians were crushed as many schools across the state had to cancel their big, spring musicals when schools were shuttered because of the pandemic.

"It was on opening night for some schools," Hall said.

Metro area high school participants for the livestream and their schools include: Grace Hoffman, Clackamas; Carla Diaz Canul, David Douglas; Emma Mendoza, Glencoe; Josiah Chambers, Gresham; Sam Majors, Jesuit; Kelly Simmons, Lake Oswego; Alexa Shaheen, Lakeridge; Chase Coburn and Jett Gomez, Mountainside; Lily Russell, Roosevelt; Sarah Beckers and Andrew Schroeder, Barlow; Liana Greger, Finn Rutis and Julia Perfili, Southridge; Athena Fontanilla, Tualatin; Angela Tinio, West Linn and Mellie Fajardo, Westview.

The Oregon Thespians said the primary focus of the event is to provide these students with an audience and a forum to perform and "celebrate the creative resilience nurtured by arts education." But viewers can also learn how to donate to Oregon Thespians to help high school theater programs maintain their involvement with this larger theater education community.

Hall explained that ticket revenues from spring musicals often fund schools' participation in Oregon Thespian events.

"We're hoping to make things easier for schools that are struggling," Hall said.

Oregon Thespians is an affiliate of the Educational Theatre Association, which honors student achievement in theater, supports teachers by providing professional resources and works to influence public opinion that theater education builds life skills.


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