First Stage Spotlight: Meet a Kluge student who has been cast in a production

We caught up with Erianna Ashmore-Purifoy—a bubbly fourth grader who attends Parkview Elementary on Milwaukee’s Northwest side. It is hard to believe that Erianna’s family would ever describe her as shy and reserved.

Erianna discovered her love for acting this past summer at First Stage’s Community Learning Center (CLC) summer school programming at Kluge Elementary School—the continuation of our regular school year CLC programming for which we serve as the lead agency.

“I learned this summer that I am a hard worker and that I can do anything I set my mind to… that I can have fun with what I do and I don’t need to get down when I make mistakes.”

What’s your most memorable experience from the summer?
“When the student who was originally cast as Timon in our concert version of THE LION KING Kids dropped out, I stepped in—with only two days to learn my part! I was a little scared but mostly excited.”

“Excited” was a word Erianna used a lot as we talked. And, rightly so—exciting things have been happening for her. After seeing THE LION KING Kids performance, Artistic Director Jeff Frank invited ten students—including Erianna—to audition for First Stage’s 2016/2017 season.

Erianna was called in to audition for the role of Grace in JUNIE B. JONES IS NOT A CROOK. When the phone rang with the good news, she and her mom almost cried tears of happiness.

What are you looking forward to the most about playing Grace?

“I’m looking forward to being on stage and having fun. I’m excited to be somebody who I normally wouldn’t be.”

When asked what advice she’d give others her age, without hesitation she said: “Whatever you want to do—go hard and don’t let nobody tell you: you can’t do it or try it. Try and try again!”

We also talked with Erianna’s mom—who is no stranger to First Stage. She works for Milwaukee Public Schools and has been at the schools in which we’ve provided programming. She shared: “with all of the bad news we hear today, it’s good to see our young people doing something positive. It’s inspiring.”

She also shared how happy it makes her to see Erianna so excited to be more involved with First Stage: “First Stage is like her last name. She’s so proud to be a part of this organization.”

And, we’re proud to have Erianna as a part of our First Stage family.

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