IT'S A story that has fascinated writers, filmmakers and playwrights over the centuries. The story of Esther has it all -- intrigue, adventure, heroism, romance and memorable characters.
It all began when King Ahasuerus of Persia decided to display the wealth of his kingdom. The king’s holdings were so vast, a 180-day feast was required to present them all.
As a highlight of the festivities, the king ordered his first wife, Queen Vashti, to appear before him and his guests wearing her crown, to show off her beauty. Alas, Vashti refused to obey.
According to law, the king went to his wise men and the seven princes of Persia and Media to ask their advice. They told him he must punish Vashti by deposing her and making her an example for other disobedient wives.
After he followed this advice, the king realized he’d have to find a new queen. Thus began what might have been the world’s first beauty contest.Beautiful women from every province were brought to the palace to try their luck. Four years after Queen Vashti was executed, Esther became queen.
Savannah Christian Church is presenting Miss Persia, a musical comedy that utilizes the beauty contest aspect of the story, on Sept. 26, 27 and 28. High school junior Ansley Kicklighter plays the role of Hadassah, who later becomes Esther.
Hadassah sees her world as an unfair one, where men rule over women and Persians rule over Jews. A dreamer and an idealist, she thinks the world can change, so she takes on a new identify and wins the “Miss Persia” beauty pageant to become Queen of Persia.
That’s only the beginning of the story. When the king’s royal advisor, Haman, concocts a nefarious plan against the Jewish people, Esther must decide whether to speak up. Will Esther take the easy way out, or will she find the courage to confront the king and save her people?
SCC has become highly regarded for its youth productions. “Ansley brings a beautiful Disney-style voice where the acting comes through in her singing,” SCC Drama Director Wayne Sullivan says. “The vocal range and emotional arc she brings to the character is tremendous.”
Kicklighter has appeared in several theatrical productions at SCC, and also works in the children’s ministry, where she volunteers. She plans to become a ministry leader or a teacher.
Drama can be used to transform lives, Kicklighter says. “It’s a way to reach people,” she says. “I’ve seen God do amazing things through these productions.”
Sullivan says SCC’s drama program has achieved miracles because it involves prayer and devotions as well as rehearsals. “I can tell you story after story of kids who are invited to see or participate in a production here at SCC,” he says. “They get involved in something they initially think is just for fun, then their lives are transformed.”
That’s why Miss Persia is such a good fit as an SCC youth production.
“God works in Esther’s life like a stage manager, directing the action from behind the scenes,” Sullivan says. “In the same way, God is an ever-present part of our ministry, orchestrating moments that change lives.”
Even though it’s inspiring, Miss Persia is, most of all, fun. “It’s an unusual take on the story,” SCC Creative Communications Team Leader Esther Griffin says. “This is a great activity for the whole family.”
Miss PersiaSavannah Christian Church Youth Drama presents a musical comedy based on the story of Queen Esther.When: Sept. 26 and 28 at 7 p.m. and Sept. 27 at 8 p.m.Where: Savannah Christian Church, 55 Al Henderson Blvd.Cost: Free admission.Info: 629-4765 or www.savannahchristian.com
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