Esther O’Brien, 14, of Brookfield will appear in First Stage’s world premiere play TO THE PROMISED LAND playing at the Todd Wehr Theater at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts January 25 through February 10.
Set in late 1960s Milwaukee, the play seamlessly weaves together the story of Ruth, a young African-American girl reeling from the loss of her brother during recent Civil Rights actions, and that of Golda Meir, Israel’s first female prime minister, who had spent her formative years in Milwaukee. As Ruth draws on Golda Meir’s autobiography for inspiration a story between Milwaukee’s African-American and Jewish communities is shared as we follow both characters on their path to her own promised land.
Esther started acting when she was in the third grade. She loves being other characters and having the freedom to put yourself in charge of the character. “My favorite part of performing is putting the smiles on the audience’s face because I’m doing what I love most,” Esther said. Although this is Esther’s First Stage debut, she has performed in many other shows. Past roles include Persia in MIRACLE WORKER, Dixie the Dry Cleaner in THE DIRTY ROOM, Yellow rose in GO WEST and Ensemble in CHRISTMAS PARK.
Esther’s role as Ruth in TO THE PROMISED LAND is her favorite to date. “Ruth is a very strong young girl and is very open to learn and become who she wants to be,” she said. She loves the friendly environment and the people at First Stage. Esther’s favorite aspect of First Stage is everyone’s willingness to help and welcoming nature. “I’ve learned that it’s hard to leave behind the set and memories of a past show, but you leave many new friends you consider family.”
“The play is about the journey of a young person searching for truth while struggling with the tests that come with life in an urban setting,” said Director Sheri Williams Pannell. “TO THE PROMISED LAND serves as a catalyst to encourage dialogue about Milwaukee history and
witness how one moment in time can impact the life of an impressionable young person,” she continued.
According to Esther, “This show has taught me how to be strong and make choices that are daring and bold.”
TO THE PROMISED LAND runs through February 10. For more information, visit www.FirstStage.org.
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