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by Dave Heinzel, February 6, 2014

Play practice

This week I've spent a few nights at the Hoogland Center for the Arts watching Mia rehearse for Lanphier High School’s production of Willy Wonka. She’s an Oompa Loompa. It opens Friday.

This is the second year she has been involved in the high school’s play. Last year it was Wizard of Oz. She was a munchkin.

It’s clever that they include so many younger students in their production, as it brings a much larger audience and support base to the show. It also means there are a number of parents sitting and waiting while the little ones rehearse. And this is where I come in.


My primary job is to supply them with my daughter, try and listen to the announcements and make sure Mia doesn’t wander out the door and into the streets. I’m not that concerned with that last point. She would do fine. Maybe she’d get a job. Or a sugar daddy.

It's a chaotic but necessary week of rehearsals, and it takes me back to my days at Southeast High School working backstage on the musicals. So many of those memories are good, but I do remember the feeling just before opening night where you just don't know if it's all going to come together. Somehow it always does. The show must go on.

Mia is not on stage much for this production, and most of my time is spent working on my computer, doodling or playing racing games on my phone. She's who-knows-where doing who-knows-what with who-knows-who. Probably out behind the building talking to strangers.

As stressful and tiring as this week can be, when the curtain rises on opening night, it all fades away. And as a parent, watching your child take the stage, you hold your breath. And before you know it, it's over. And in your eyes the performance was flawless. Then come the tears. Or maybe you're a tough guy and you're just rubbing your eyes. But that little girl you've raised since birth is slowly making a life of her own, getting further away each day. And you know what? She's doing all right.


She was the most adorable Oompa Loompa I've ever seen!! And, yes, I wish she would quit growing up so fast. It happens so quickly.

Nancy H.
Feb 8, 2014, 9:53 P.M.