Owen Stokes: A lifetime of acting

Posted: Thursday, July 13, 2000

Screaming in diapers: Owen Stokes, 15, began his acting career in Perseverance Theatre's production of ``The Tempest'' when he was 2 years old.

``I was a sprite and ran around in my diapers and screamed and yelled,'' he said.

From a dog to Romeo: He's been in more than a dozen different productions since then. He played a dog for five years running in Perseverance's summer tourist show, ``The Lady Lou Revue'' and he sang in the Juneau Lyric Opera production of ``The Music Man.''

He was also active in radio theater for four years and was one of the first young broadcasters to be involved in KTOO-FM's ``We Like Kids'' program in the early 1990s.

Stokes was busy this past year. He performed in Perseverance's ``The House of Blue Leaves'' and ``Romeo and Juliet.'' In the latter he played Benvolio and had the lead as Romeo in three shows.

He also served as president of the freshman class at Juneau-Douglas High School.

Proving himself: Owen's mother is actress, teacher and director Annie Stokes Hutchison, who's been active in Juneau theater for many years. Owen said early on he performed because his mother wanted him to.

``But as I got older, I started auditioning and asking to be in shows,'' he said.

Molly Smith, Perseverance Theatre's former director, is his mother's good friend, and Owen said that gave him a casting advantage when he was young. That changed when Peter DuBois took over the post two years ago.

``That was probably the biggest turning point in my acting,'' he said. He had to win parts based strictly on his own merits, and DuBois soon cast him in ``One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,'' a 13-year-old boy playing a 65-year-old man.

Sold his soul: DuBois became a formal mentor when Stokes asked him to help with a year-long school project shortly afterward. Stokes wanted to experience a serious audition as a professional actor. He set up an interview with a Seattle theater company, flew down and went through the process. He delivered a monologue in the role of Dr. Faustus, an old man who has sold his soul to Satan.

``It was the speech he makes just before he's taken to Hell,'' he said. ``They were surprised to see this kid doing it.''

Going pro: Stokes hopes to have a career as a professional actor.

``That would be my dream,'' he said. ``Teaching acting would be good, too.''

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