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BYU's "Esperanza Rising" tells story of young Mexican emigrant during U.S. Depression

Final show in 2007-2008 Pardoe Theatre series

Two countries, two cultures and two languages will tell the inspiring story of a young Mexican emigrant in the Brigham Young University Theatre for Young Audiences’ production of “Esperanza Rising” May 30 through June 13.

Performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Pardoe Theatre, Harris Fine Arts Center. Tickets are $12 for general admission, $7 for weeknight shows and $8 for weekend shows with a BYU or student ID. Tickets to dress rehearsal performances May 28-29 and matinee performances June 5, 7, 13 and 14 at 2 p.m. are $6. No performances will be held on Sundays or Mondays.

For tickets, visit or call the Fine Arts Ticket Office at (801) 422-4322.

Torn by treachery and tragedy from her home in the beautiful vineyards of Mexico, Esperanza leaves the last vestiges of her charmed life and travels alone through life-threatening dangers to a foreign country without any promise of what she’ll find when she gets there.

“She imagines nothing will be worse than leaving behind the sad remnants of her life for the wild unknown, but she quickly sees that she is in for the ride of her life,” according to Eric Samuelsen, the production’s director.

Once una princesa, now harvesting peaches and potatoes in the California fields, Esperanza finds her dreams are threatened by misunderstandings and the rumblings of a workers’ strike in the midst of the Great Depression. Esperanza learns to be more than she ever thought possible, and she realizes that family, hope and even roses can blossom on a dusty farm far from home.

“The play celebrates Mexico,” said Samuelsen. “Unfortunately, our Hispanic brothers and sisters have not had many opportunities to see their culture celebrated on the American stage. We’re honored to do so with this production.”

Performed mainly in English, the production also mixes in Spanish words and Mexican idioms and phrases to show what Samuelson calls a “complicated cultural framework” as Esperanza encounters many different people and cultures in the United States.

Madison Killen will perform the role of Esperanza, with Carla Kirk as Marta, Cesar Caceres as Miguel, Stephanie Cleghorn as Ramona, Liliana Corona as Hortensia, Maelyn Gandola as Modesta, Nina Jonassaint as Marielena and Duardo A. Perez-Rodriguez as Don Luis.

Joining Samuelsen on the production staff are Alison Belnap and Wade Hollinghaus, dramaturges; Marti Hansen, production stage manger; Travis Coyne, scenic designer; Jeffrey Sorensen, costume designer; Melanie Kowallis, makeup and hair designer; Mike Handley, lighting designer; and Katie Harrel, sound designer.

For more information, contact Eric Samuelsen at (801) 422-3305.

Writer: Marissa Ballantyne

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