On Friday, April 27, junior Brigid O’Brien attended her final day of school at San Marin for the 2017-2018 school year. O’Brien will be starring in the new musical, “A Walk On the Moon” written by Pamela Gray, a professional musical performed through San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater. At 17-years-old, O’Brien is the youngest principal actress in a cast of 18 performers.
“Being the youngest is intimidating, but it’s also a great opportunity,” O’Brien said. “I’m excited to be able to learn so much from castmates.”
O’Brien plays the character Alison Kantrowitz, the 14-year-old daughter of Pearl Kantrowitz, a Jewish housewife who lives in New York with her husband Marty. The musical takes place in the summer of 1969 and focuses on Pearl’s attempt to balance her life with her rebellious daughter, overworked husband and affair with a traveling salesman.
In the musical, O’Brien’s character meets and falls in love with Ross Ebstein, a 16-year-old Jewish boy. This relationship begins at the same time her mother starts an affair with Walker Jerome, the traveling salesman.
“A Walk On the Moon” will premiere on Wednesday, June 6 and run everyday until Sunday, July 1. The musical will be performed inside the American Conservatory Theater’s Geary Theater. “A Walk On the Moon” is a new musical that has not been performed before. O’Brien says her favorite part about the show is that she gets to be the first performer ever to portray the role of Allison Kantrowitz.
“[Originating a role] is exciting because very few people get to do that,” she said. “It’s an amazing feeling to know that I am making musical history.”
O’Brien traveled to New York earlier this school year for a two week workshop in preparation of the musical. The show’s cast performed an initial readthrough of the script, followed by another readthrough after changes were made. To prepare for the premiere, the cast rehearses for eight hours, six days a week. O’Brien attends four to five voice lessons every week and additional acting, performance and vocal coaching. On her Mondays off, she spends time with her friends. O’Brien plans on finishing her junior year through independent study and scattered classes at NOVA. She said it is hard not being able to see her friends everyday, but together, they are managing.
“School without her is tough, and I really miss her, but it’s an incredible opportunity for her, and I know she is going to do an amazing job,” O’Brien’s friend junior Tara Shotz said.
O’Brien attended multiple galas to raise money and awareness for the musical. At these galas, she performed songs featured in the play so that potential donors would be interested in contributing to the budget of the show.
When she was younger, O’Brien was never really interested in singing or performing musical theater, but rather competitive swimming. Her older sister was a performer during this time, and their dad wanted her to perform also. At the age of nine, O’Brien auditioned for the play, “Oliver.” With her audition, she landed the lead role and enjoyed it so much that she quit swimming to pursue performing instead. Since then, she has performed in many shows as the lead and other important roles, including “The Music Man” and “The Addams Family” at San Marin. She planned on performing in this year’s spring musical “Legally Blonde,” but “A Walk on the Moon” became a conflict.
“The reason I perform is because I love to tell other people’s stories,” O’Brien said. “My favorite thing about theater is creating new friendships and families, because the people you meet in the process are amazing.”