Just over a year since his first-ever stage performance, Tyler James Myers says he's grown comfortable playing a leading role at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Tyler, a 15-year-old Crater High School sophomore, plays young Jon in "Ghost Light," running at the New Theater through Nov. 5.
The dramatic play is based on the real life of Jon Moscone, the son of former San Francisco mayor George Moscone — who was assassinated alongside Harvey Milk in 1978.
Tyler plays Jon at the time of his father's death, appearing in dreams and flashbacks throughout the play.
Jon Moscone directs the play, something Tyler didn't realize when he auditioned earlier this year. "When I first did the audition, I didn't know (Moscone) was there," said Tyler, who found out in March he would play the 14-year-old version of the "Ghost Light" director.
"I was surprised, I didn't think they would call," he said.
Tyler went through three auditions and a workshop with other actors before securing the part, which he considers his favorite role since his acting debut in eighth grade.
Back then, Tyler took a role in a school production at Medford's Harvest Baptist Christian School. Though he can't remember the name of that play now, the experience was enough to sway Tyler to pursue theater obsessively.
Last summer, he enrolled in a number of classes and workshops in Ashland and Los Angeles, learning everything he could about his new passion.
He took classes at Oregon Stage Works, where he met the co-director of the Ashland Children's Theater, Eve Smyth, a woman he credits for his growing knowledge of theater.
"She's the only reason I know anything about theater," said Tyler, who is now homeschooled and attends a couple of elective classes at Crater. "It's a lot harder now trying to keep up with all my work," he said.
Working at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has pushed Tyler outside of his comfort zone, he said, citing one scene in "Ghost Light" where he takes the stage in his underwear.
"I have to go in my boxers and run in place," said Tyler, referring to a scene when young Jon is trying to fake being sick.
Tyler said during rehearsals he always wore basketball shorts, but had to bare it all during the first show in June.
"The first time in my underwear I had to do it in front of 300 people," he said.
The OSF actors have been encouraging the young thespian and have been helpful in his journey to become a better actor, Tyler said.
"They teach me a lot. They teach me acting-wise and about life. They all think I'm doing great."
After another audition, Tyler was selected to go with the rest of the "Ghost Light" cast when the show heads to the Berkeley Repertory Theater at the end of the year. The play runs in Berkeley Jan. 6 through Feb. 19, 2012.
Tyler's mom, Sheri Myers, said her son's sense of professionalism is leading to his success. He's never missed a performance — even when he injured his foot — and has never missed any of his lines during a show, she said.
Sheri will travel with her son to Berkeley in December and said she hopes to hire an agent to help Tyler further his new career, which he hopes will lead to on-screen roles in addition to the theater.
Tyler uses Facebook and an online casting site in hopes of landing new roles.
"I think Tyler wants to do it all," his mother said.