Project: Children’s Hospital visit for the Lion King
Actual Time Taken: 1 hour
What do Chris Pratt and I have in common?
Probably a lot.
But one thing that we both did a few weeks ago was visit Children’s Hospitals! (Granted, he went as Star Lord from Gaurdians of the Galaxy and I went as “That Little Asian Dancer in the Lion King Tour,” but still…)
This post is Chris Pratt approved. (I assume.)
And I know it sounds strange, but I legitimately get excited to visit a Children’s Hospital. There are so many sad stories, difficult situations, and sick kids that it’s hard to imagine being excited to visit such a place. But every time we as a cast get a chance to visit, I look forward to it.
I’m excited to see the smiling faces of the kids facing seemingly insurmountable odds. I can’t wait to sit and talk to the weary parents and connect with them on such a human level though such a surreal theatrical show such as ours. I always hope to find someone who not only knows our show (as most everyone we meet as at least seen the animated movie once) but who is also passionate about dance, music, theater, or any of the arts.
This past visit did not disappoint. We arrived early in the morning (9:45 am is the crack of dawn for us night-owl entertainers!) and were ushered into a small arts and crafts room. Some of the patients were already coloring away on the lion masks that Disney had sent ahead, and stopped outlining the mane of the mask in purple and pink long enough to shoot us quick, shy smiles.
We navigated our way though the rolling IV stands, shin-high chair and table sets, and wheelchairs to meet the many mini-smiling faces on their level. One beautiful little girl I sat with was busy coloring in her hospital gown, and finally placed her aqua and purple colored lion mask on her perfectly bald head with such pride that I couldn’t help but smile.
Another young girl I met was also going though some kind of treatment (we tend not to ask and try to keep it on the positive stuff- less diagnoses and doctors, more music and laughter helps to heal, me thinks.) talked to me so openly and happily about her love of singing and music. She said she needed to work on her dancing a bit, and once she was released from the hospital and free of her wheelchair, she would get right on it, to which I encouraged her to keep persuing her dream of being on stage no matter what.
But to be honest, my words felt so hollow. What inspiration could I give this strong, brave, beautiful girl who is battling her disease and yet still dreams of a life on stage? I feel like sometimes I get excited to go to these Children’s Hospital visits for a completely selfish reason- because these children always end up inspiring me in the most deep and profound way. People say that us visiting with them our stories of life on the road, giving out Lion King swag, and showing the videos of our show brings so much joy to the children and families dealing with serious illnesses, but the truth is the light that they bring to my life far eclipses anything I could ever offer them.
So thank you to the Children’s Hospitals, the Lion King, and the young children and families who are fighting for their health, and still allow a moment of joy to pass between us. These visits always affect me in the most profound way, and I am already excited for my next visit.
Maybe next time I’ll go as Gamora for extra fun-zies.
Often mistaken for She-Hulk, I’m sure…