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YES Company musical features local students

While many teens have spent time lounging around the pool, five students from the Oakdale-Riverbank area have been busy preparing on stage this summer, getting ready for performances of the iconic musical Oklahoma!, the first collaboration of Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Shows are scheduled at the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto, July 18 through 21. Participating students are part of the YES – Youth Entertainment Stage – Company through the Stanislaus County Office of Education, in cooperation with Gallo Center for the Arts.

Gallo Director of Arts Education, Cortney Hurst, said the students have been immersed in the production.

“We have been fulltime since the first week of June, Monday through Friday, 9 to 5,” Hurst explained. “We have 74 students total in the cast.”

Students are in seventh grade through senior year; Hurst said they open the auditions to incoming seventh grade students and also have some recently graduated seniors in the summer cast as well.

Oakdale students in the production are 2024 graduates Daniel Campbell and Haley Perez. Both took part in the YES Company production of “The Addams Family – School Edition” last year. Campbell has a main role in Oklahoma!, portraying farmhand Jud Fry, part of a romantic triangle at the heart of the show. Riverbank students in the cast are incoming sophomore Maddie Owens and incoming juniors Eva Lyon and Ilizabeth Duran-Soriano.

“Daniel is one of the leads in the show and he will be going off to study music at UOP (University of the Pacific) in the fall,” noted Hurst.

Part of the fun of being involved in the summer production, she added, is watching the students come together on stage as performers.

“This is the musical that transitioned us into the ‘Golden Age’ of musicals where equal weight was given to acting, dancing and singing,” Hurst explained of Oklahoma! “This is kind of like a rite of passage for them, our young theater students.”

Last year’s Addams Family production was a much more modern show; Hurst said Oklahoma! is pretty much the exact opposite, set just after the turn of the 20th century.

“It has been fun to watch the kids embrace this, finding their own ways to identify with the characters,” Hurst added.

Performances of Oklahoma! are scheduled on Thursday and Friday, July 18 and 19 at 7 p.m., with Saturday and Sunday shows, July 20 and 21, at 2 p.m.

All performances will be in the Mary Stuart Rogers Theater at the Gallo Center, 1000 I St., Modesto. For tickets or more information, call the box office at 209-338-2100. Ticket prices range from $22 to $53. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

A special VIP add on for the matinee performances – termed “The Box Social” – is available Saturday and Sunday for an additional $10 and features a ‘meet and greet’ and photo opportunity with select cast members for one adult and one child 16 years old or younger, along with a gift bag including a sweet surprise.

VIP tickets must be purchased by phone or in person at the ticket office.

Hurst said the production team goes in to the summer rehearsals with certain expectations in mind for the students and the performances, as they work toward putting on a full-length Broadway musical.

“They live up to them and more often than not, they exceed them” Hurst shared of the cast. “This is a dedicated and intelligent group, the whole 74 have come together and supported each other. They just really have this mindset of having both an educational experience and doing something fun.”