((L) Bachelor, photography by Renee Anderson (R) Renee Anderson | Photo courtesy of Sunriver Stars Community Theater)
It’s hard to argue with the idea that Central Oregon is home to some of the most talented artists in the state. Really, some might say, in the country or beyond. Sunriver Stars Community Theater (SSCT) has been lucky enough to draw some of these talented artists into their orbit through the years. And, so many of these artists are not just gifted in acting or performing arts, but so often in many other classifications of art.
Renee Anderson is one such artist. First introduced to SSCT in 2014, Anderson has been involved with this community theater group in a variety of ways, first as the marketing director, later as an actor in a starring role, also a production director and most recently as the interim president of the SSCT Board of Directors. Her most recent role with SSCT was the lead in the last live show before the pandemic shutdown, Let Him Sleep Til It’s Time For His Funeral.
In the Fall of 2020, Anderson was asked to fill a vacancy on the SSCT Board of Directors as the interim president. “I was missing live theater terribly and had the idea to produce a virtual show with actors filming performances from the safety of their own homes,” Anderson shared. SSCT’s Virtual Holiday Spectacular was the first virtual show produced by SSCT and shared on their YouTube channel. “This first virtual show as such a hit that the Sunriver Stars Board suggested producing a virtual children’s show for Valentine’s Day.” Anderson’s range of talent is evident as she served as video editor, producer and graphic designer for both SSCT virtual shows.
From her earliest memories, art has been the center of her life. “I began drawing obsessively at a very young age, communicating my feelings through art even before I could fully speak… which didn’t take long,” Anderson shared. “I started singing and acting when I was about four years old.” Anderson continued performing in many ways throughout her youth and adolescence. As a child, Anderson began doing little runway shows in malls (it was the 80’s and mall shows were a big thing, Anderson explained). She also modeled for Osh Kosh B’Gosh when she was about six years old. In middle school, she joined band and theater.
Once in high school, Anderson played saxophone in the marching band and joined the speech team. “I lettered 16 times in academics, mostly in theater, speech and band,” Anderson said. At age 16, she was scouted for a Disney TV show called That’s So Raven. Although not chosen for the show, Anderson was accepted into the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. “I had been in over 100 shows by the time I was 19, performed at 2nd Street Theater, Cascade Theatrical Company, COCC and was an Usher for Keller Auditorium in Portland,” reflected Anderson.
Anderson took some time off from theater for about 14 years to work in the food and beverage industry, specifically in breweries. “I managed McMenamins in Oregon City and helped develop spirits for Rogue Ales,” said Anderson. In 2009, Anderson’s daughter, Niko, was born. “It was during my pregnancy that I began taking up my old love of painting,” she shared. Soon her artwork was being showcased in downtown Bend, featured in such places as Silver Moon Brewing, Velvet, Astro Lounge, The Box Factory and Cosa Cura.
Currently, Anderson is taking some time off to assist her daughter with hybrid schooling and to focus on her health. Anderson said that most people do not realize that she is an avid hiker and has logged 200 miles since January 2021. “It’s a big part of getting back to prime health,” Anderson said. “There’s no place I’d rather be right now than outside with my dogs!” Currently Anderson is focusing on her photography and writing, some graphic design and will still pull out her paintbrushes from time to time.
“Although this last year has been a challenge for many, I believe it is this shared struggle that grows art and brings people together,” Anderson stated. “I have great hope for the future of the Arts in Sunriver. I hope to return to theater someday, when audiences are live!”
Although Anderson is currently rebranding some of her websites, one that showcases some of her photography and writings can be found at naybeline.com.