OSF Kids


Grace Pruitt

Lights, camera, action! Believe it or not, Ashland High School has a plethora of young aspiring actors and musicians. Many of them were recently onstage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival up until early November when the season ended. From freshmen to seniors, these students have continued to explore and share their extraordinary talents.

Freshman, Julia Laurenson has been in 5 seasons at OSF. She started her acting career when she was 10 years old, featuring in Cat on the Hot Tin Roof and continued on to perform in A Midsummer’s Nights Dream as a fairy. She was also an understudy for Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella, Heart of Robin Hood and has finished off the last season with understudying for the princes in Richard III. When understudying for Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, she went into her first rehearsal knowing 175 lines. Laurenson says she would definitely do it again.

Sophomore, Kaya Van Dyke has performed in one season at OSF as Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird was she was 13 years old. Van Dyke spent 40 hours outside of official rehearsal time learning lines. Van Dyke at 10 years old performed in the Broadway Tour Show of  The Wizard of Oz for two nights as a munchkin. When asked if she would do an OSF show again she replied, “Yes!  Definitely!” with a glowing smile upon her face.

Gabe Neimark, freshman, performed in the enchanting version of Into the Woods playing percussion in the youth orchestra. Neimark is no stranger to performing seeing that he had performed in The Britt Festival. Having connections to OSF, since his parents used to work there and was friends the the Artistic Director, he was asked to audition.

Lily Rider, junior, was an understudy in Two Gentlemen of Verona or more commonly known as No Gents. Lily Rider had the opportunity to be in one of OSF’s first all female Shakespeare cast. Rider remembers practicing a lot on her lines because of the Shakespearean language. Rider never expected to acting professionally at her age.

Talented violinist, Chloe Brown has performed in four seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Junior, Chloe Brown started at OSF in fourth grade playing in Othello, then progressed to The Music Man, My Fair Lady and last season as a Lady in Waiting and Outlaw in the all female cast of Two Gentlemen of Verona. Brown doesn’t think she will do another play if they ask her because she “would like a free summer before [her] senior year”. She never expected being in a professional play in fourth grade but “kept hoping [to] get another chance” after that.

Junior, Stanley Graham is most known for his fierceness on the basketball court, but he also has a theatrical side. Graham performed in OSF’s production of Our Town. He was only 11 years old and wasn’t about to be shaken by his two lines. Graham didn’t have to audition because people knew him and was asked to have the role.

Senior, Paul Shubat performed in the stunning production of Into the Woods over the summer. Shubat played the cello in the youth orchestra with Gabe Neimark. Shubat had previously played in the Rogue Valley Symphony for a few years and says he would definitely do another OSF show.

Taylor Kelly-McMahon, freshman, was the understudy for A Wrinkle in Time in the 2014 season. McMahon was introduced to OSF by her parents who work there as actors. McMahon had great time doing shows and would do it again.

Freshman, Nur Shelton, played a prince in the intense production of Richard III. Shelton was recommended by his acting teacher to audition and sure enough, he got the role. Shelton never expected to be in a professional production until now. “You never know”, OSF opens up many opportunities for young performers.

Junior, James Edson, performed in two seasons at OSF. He performed in Distracted and Coriulanus but isn’t really interested in doing another show at the moment. Edson found out about open calls from an advertisement in the newspaper. This experience has opened up a window of opportunities.

Performing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is unforgettable. It is truly amazing the age range of people who perform on the big stage. Though it may seem scary to think of being a professional at such a young age, but these individuals have proved it is possible. Though it is a time consuming job, it is worthwhile.