Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Growing up on stage

With just one more performance of my daughter's last high school show, I'm feeling a bit nostalgic.

It all started when Mariana was 3 years old. She arranged, stage managed, directed (the older cousins may prefer to say they were bossed), costumed, and starred in The Mariana Show in Grandma's basement.

Her "big break" (as she thought at the time) came in 2004 when she landed a role in a homeschool production with a historical theme. With much dramatic flair she told me that this was the role she had always wanted. The role? Pilgrim Girl. She didn't even have a name. And it was a homeschool production. As in, every parent thinks their child is the next star because compared to all of the other children in their child's school, he is. In actuality, it was painful to watch. But she was thrilled and filled her five minutes on stage with every ounce of her being.

Next it was community theater and the role of Molly in Annie at the ripe old age of 8.

She was hooked so starting at age 9 she was bringing home a paycheck and acting anywhere she could at regional theaters, amusement parks, and other community theaters and growing up on stage right in front of our eyes:

Ensemble and fiddler in Oklahoma (source of that first paycheck and a director who definitely got the concept of using the cute factor in a typically adult-only cast)

Several original Christmas shows, two of which she had a leading role

Ensemble of Daniel at Sight and Sound Theater

Ensemble of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Princess Ying Yaowalak in The King and I

Lead for 2 seasons in a Hershey Park Matt Davenport production called Home Sweet Home for Christmas

Sad Girl in Bye, Bye Birdie

Two dwarves in a children's theater production of Snow White (one dwarf was a puppet)

Brigitta in The Sound of Music

Gertrude in Seussical

Penny in Hairspray

Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie

A Passion Play

And who could forget the weekends in a murder mystery experience:
Being electrocuted as a picketer on Friday nights and
Being shot as a different character on Saturday nights

And many educational, and conservatory experiences in between, always trying to better herself:

Turtle in A Year with Frog and Toad
Snoopy in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown

Viola in Twelfth Night

Ensemble of Evita at French Woods
Muzzy Van Hossmere in Thoroughly Modern Millie at French Woods

And of course high school had its opportunities:

Wife in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Nurse in The Man Who Came to Dinner
Erma in Anything Goes
Mary Warren in The Crucible

Composing music to accompany The 39 Steps and performing it
Peter Pan in Peter Pan

Scuttle in Disney's The Little Mermaid


As you close this chapter of your life and move on to college, I want you to know that we have been blessed. Not by what you have done, although it has been fun to watch you mature and develop in the theater arts, but by who you are. You have successfully refused to join in the catty, back-stabbing atmosphere of the industry. Over and over, other parents and performers have told me that you were the most encouraging member of the cast and crew. That says a lot. And while I may not have been the typical stage mom; pushing her daughter for the glory of it all, bringing attention to you wherever we go, wanting to be in the center with you, you allowed me to stand in the background and just be me. Your 10 year career (so far) is all because you used your God-given gifts not for yourself but for His glory. You don't think of yourself as less than you are or as more than you are. That's true humility and I love you for it. Heartbreak and unfulfilled dreams didn't come often but when they did, you handled them with poise and maturity. Each time, you took time to grieve and then you turned around and embraced the role you were given, and rather than hold it against someone else, you became their biggest fan and encourager.

As you make your final college decision, the one given is that we know we'll be headed to NYC to see you in any roles during these next 4 years. That's okay. The tolls, the parking, the hotels, it will all be worth it to see you continue on this journey for which you were made. Just don't forget to be you, always remembering that it's not all about you.

"You are valuable because you exist. Not because of what you do or what you have done, but simply because you ARE." -Max Lucado

Love, Mom


  1. What a wonderful showcase of your daughter's talent. I admire those who can sing and perform. I have been in your shoes twice, watching and enjoying those last moments. So bittersweet, but it is so much fun too, watching them become adults. Enjoy these last few months of "childhood."

  2. My husband is an English and Drama teacher. The bond that his students have with him and each other is amazing. Every year, the Spring production is bitter sweet. His Seniors are teary eyed, and the Sophomores bright eyed, anxiously awaiting what will be the show for next fall. This coming April, our son, a Senior at his school will be taking his final bow on the high school stage. Congrats as your daughter moves on toward her next scene in life!

  3. Loved the story of Mariana as she grew up on stage. I thought that was going to be the slice and then I read your letter to her. Oh, man. So sweet! What a beautiful letter of support and encouragement!