The Greatest Part
Lessons from Peter Pan Jr.
“It doesn’t matter what your role on stage is, it’s about how the Lord uses it. And it’s not something she went into the play thinking about. I think it’s something she came out of the play realizing.”
Every Fall the middle school produces a play. While these performances are always extraordinary, Susan Watson got to watch her daughter Abby take on an unexpected, and ultimately more impactful, role in this year’s production of Peter Pan Jr.
Abby Watson has been part of these Fall performances since her 6th grade year. She was Middle Anna in Frozen Jr. and the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. Since this was her 8th grade year, she had hopes of getting a lead role (and even got a callback audition to play Wendy) but was given the part of Mrs. Darling.
Though there was some disappointment, Abby saw a lot of opportunity in the role on and off stage.
“My part on stage impacted my part offstage,” said Abby. “At first, I just thought it would be fun, but then I realized that I got to really have a relationship with the kids of stage. I wasn’t in a ton of scenes as Mrs. Darling, so that gave me an opportunity to encourage the other cast members backstage and tell them they were doing a great job. A lot of the kids were younger, and it’s their first play. They were really nervous, and I think it was nice to have those older kids backstage to be there for them.”
“She kind of created this family,” recounts Susan. “About two weeks before the performances, she started making these cards.”
In an incredibly mom-like move, Abby decided she wanted to make something everyone in the cast could keep as a memory of their time in the play. Each card had a drawing on the front to represent the person’s character in the play with a personal note of encouragement inside.
“I remember coming into my 6th grade year and having such a good relationship with the older kids and how kind and sweet they were,” recalls Abby. “Then in 7th grade, an 8th grader wrote notes for the cast and that really impacted me. It was really sweet, and I wanted to make everyone in Peter to feel the same way I had in other musicals. I wanted the kids to realize there is more than just performing. It’s the people and the relationships and how God is working through everything with you. God has you in a role, and He gives you a purpose.”
Susan remembers, “She spent a lot of time drawing pictures of their characters and writing personal notes. She stayed up late every night for a couple weeks working on those. The biggest part of it was that as the week unfolded, she realized that her role (man, I’m getting choked up just thinking about it) was more than the character on the stage, it was a role God had planned for her.”
God still had more to work through Abby.
On opening night, Abby saw how nervous the kids in her Darling family were about their first show, so she initiated a time of prayer with them backstage.
“I had taken my little Darling family outside to pray, and one of the other kids who was one of the Lost Boys, Vance Whelchel, came up and asked, ‘Can I pray with y’all?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, of course!’”
The next day a couple more people from the cast came up to Abby asking to join the prayer, and then the next day more people came up, and by the last night of the show everyone was praying together.
“I loved that my mindset at first was this was a little Darling Family thing, but once other people started joining, then it wasn’t just the Darling family that was a family. It was everybody that puts the show together. Everybody has a huge part to play, and the play wouldn’t be the same without them. I really liked that I learned that.”
“It gives me this overwhelming feeling,” said Susan, searching for the right words. “It’s everything that you’ve poured in; what we as parents have poured in; what the school has poured in; what the Lord has poured into her. For Abby to see more than herself, and to see the relationships. You can do a lot of things in life and be successful, but if you’re not doing them for the Lord, there’s no point. That’s a lesson that was clearly illustrated through my daughter.”