First Stage young performers shine in The Color Purple

By Michael Hantke

Based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple is a magnificent musical saga spanning four decades. An unforgettable story – of a woman finding the strength to triumph over adversity and discover her own unique voice in the world.  With a joyous Grammy-nominated score featuring jazz, ragtime, gospel, and blues, The Color Purple captures the hearts of young and old, and reminds us that, “it only takes a grain of love to make a mighty tree.”

The Color Purple features a cast of 25 including some First Stage favorites including Young Performers Chantae Miller as Young Celie (A Midnight Cry), Esther O’Brien, Ensemble (Shrek, To The Promised Land);  Braylen Stevens, Ensemble (A Midnight Cry, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer); and Zuri McGowan as Young Nettie (Folk Tales for All Folks and A Midsummer Night's Dream). Also joining the cast is seasoned actor Malkia Stampley, Ensemble (A Midnight Cry, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer).

Chantae, Esther and Zuri will be making their Rep debut with The Color Purple and we wish them nothing but the best! Braylen returns to the Rep after appearing in A Raisin in the Sun. 

We recently spoke with Esther and Braylen about their experience working on The Color Purple, and how their time at First Stage has prepared them for this moment.  This is what they had to say:

Braylen Stevens: “Working with the Milwaukee Rep is so much fun! Every time I walk into the building I learn something new,” said Braylen. “First Stage has helped me a lot throughout the industry and has pushed me to be the young performer I am today. Having those supportive mentors and teachers there to help encourage you to ‘own the stage’ or ‘live the moment’ helps build confidence in yourself to know that you are not only capable of doing the job but doing it well.”

Esther O'Brien: “The Color Purple has always been a production I wanted to participate in. The dynamic of the show and the storyline is so captivating,” added Esther. “The theme of forgiveness and love in the play makes me really have a passion for it. The characters face their own battles throughout the story but in the end overpower them. That in itself is inspirational to anyone watching. First Stage was truly one of my first experiences on a stage. There was so much I learned ranging from stage directions to Tech week. I learn something every time I go there!”

The Color Purple runs September 23 to November 2, 2014 at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Also, look out for Chantae Miller and Esther O’Brien in two of our upcoming productions in the First Stage 2014-2015 season! Esther will be performing in Stargirl and Chantae will be performing in Big Nate: The Musical.

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