By ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Summit High School Senior Maya Gardner is president of the Summit Theatre board, and has been involved in productions for the past few years.
“I wanted to be involved in theater pretty much my entire life, I always did like shows for my parents and stuff like that,” said Gardner. “I actually didn’t start performing until I got to Summit.”
Mountain View High School senior Jared Charney Cohen started his theater career in elementary school.
“I really got started around 4th grade, but I’ve really been surrounded by it my whole life because my family has been involved with theater for as long as I can remember,” Cohen said.
Skylar Adams, a Ridgeview High School graduate, is now in her senior year at Santa Clara University, and also made her stage debut early on.
“My first show was in third grade and I was a little munchkin in the Wizard of Oz at Redmond High School,” said Adams. “The rest is history, I loved it and I kept doing it.”
Like so many other seniors in the arts, Gardner, Cohen and Adams, had big plans for the second half of the school year.
“I’ve been looking forward to this two or three month period since I was like five years old,” Gardner said.
“I was auditioning for shows, I was getting called back for professional work, I was being asked to be in various things,” Adams said.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has put those plans on hold or canceled them altogether, leaving these dedicated students in limbo.
“Missing a good third of the year is really, really difficult, especially the end of the year with seniors who have been looking forward to these milestones, their last senior show, their last senior awards,” Summit High School theater teacher Lara Okamoto said.
“We were in the middle of casting our huge spring musical, our final show,” said Adams. “Everything just stopped, no cast lists came out, no callback lists came out, everything just stopped.”
“Everybody’s bummed,” Cohen said.
Despite the abrupt cancellations, you can’t keep an artist down, and they’re all working to continue honing their craft remotely.
“I’m being invited to read a lot of stage readings and we’re all Zooming together!” Adams said.
The Summit Theatre board has also been putting together daily videos to keep other students entertained.
“We knew that we needed to keep our community theater together, so the board collectively together decided we wanted to do a seven day a week thing since there are seven board members,” said Gardner. “So we just sat together and we thought, ‘What are little things that won’t take too long to watch that will help brighten up their day and make them feel less alone?’”
While the present circumstances aren’t ideal, the future for these seniors is looking bright.
Cohen and Gardner have both received their college acceptance letters.
“I’m third in my family to have gone to USC, second for theater,” Cohen said.
“I am headed to USC in the Spring to study acting, as well as international relations,” Gardner said.
And to their fellow seniors whose lives and schooling have also been unexpectedly been put on halt, they have a message.
“To quote High School Musical, we’re all in this together!” Cohen said.
“This is just an intermission,” Gardner said.
“Everything will work out, it always does,” said Adams. “So have hope.”