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Performers Brighten Day For Rio Altura Students
They were lively, energetic, entertaining ... and based on the smiles and muffled giggles from the youngsters in the audience, a big hit with the crowd.

A handful of representatives from YES, Youth Entertainment Stage, Company based in Modesto were center stage in the multi purpose room at Rio Altura School on Friday, March 12 for a pair of performances.

The teens, from middle and high schools throughout Stanislaus County, gave the elementary students a taste of what it's like to be part of a performing troupe, mixing song, dance and some audience interaction into the roughly 20-minute shows.

Many of those performing are veterans of the YES Company, which stages several productions throughout the year, including an intensive summer program covering all aspects of musical theater.

They drew the most response from songs they performed from their recent production, 'Seussical the Musical' based on the works of Dr. Seuss, delighting the crowd when they donned the familiar floppy cat-in-the-hat signature red and white hats.

Among the troupe members performing on Friday were Alex Lucero of Oakdale High School, Aneesa Smith of Central Catholic High School, Haley Pagcaliuagan of Ustach Middle School, Alan Bautista of Orestimba High and Shane Oliver of Valley Charter High School. Helping orchestrate the show was Shawna Larson of Waterford High School.

Children dodged raindrops on Friday to make their way into the multipurpose room but once the show began, there was nothing but sunshine and smiles, as the performers connected with their young audience.

"It's a way to get them interested in it," said Lucero, a senior at nearby Oakdale High School. "This will maybe give them an interest in music and musical theater."

Lucero is entering his sixth year with the YES Company and said his mom - Robyn Hoegh, a first grade teacher at Rio Altura - got him involved in the group.

He said she just told him to get in the car one day and they ended up at her alma mater, Downey High in Modesto, where the group was having auditions.

"She told me to get out and go," Lucero said, smiling at the memory. "She said 'I'll pick you up in two hours'."

Now, six years later, he can drive himself to practices and performances, but he said her influence in getting him started has resulted in a lifetime of good memories and friendships, as company members work and bond together.

The troupe members also promoted their next show, with YES putting on 'The Music Man' in July at the Gallo Center for the Arts.

"It's going to be awesome," Lucero said.