"When Plans Change" by Captain Shelley Bell

During the summer of 2015, our family was transferred from Clearwater, FL to Memphis, TN. Emma, our daughter, was then 12 years old. We had planned for her to work on unpacking her room, getting settled and ready for school for the duration of that summer. Doesn’t that sound fun?! But, thankfully, we were led around on a tour of the Kroc Center when those plans changed. Emma loved to sing and act, and so when we walked into the Kroc Center Theater and met Lindsay and Brandon, Emma was intrigued. They spoke about their summer camps going on and one of them fit right into Emma’s empty summer schedule. That summer camp, “Aladdin,” changed everything. Emma was hooked! She was poured into by the directors and interns that summer, and she went from knowing no one in her new city to being part of a family. The SDP Family.

The next Spring she was able to be a part of the SDP production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Here, she learned to exercise many lessons within her new family: responsibility, attitude, energy and kindness. We weren’t sure if this would be something Emma would want to dedicate so much time to, but boy were we wrong! She looked forward to every rehearsal, and the next year—she signed up and auditioned for every show possible! We could tell her passion and heart were engaged because of how dedicated and energized she was for each show. Each one becoming a special part of her heart and life. Shrek, Aladdin, and Cinderella all took her to different places and can be counted as some of her best memories now and forever. Each show and cast growing her into a more confident and committed actor.

The following summer she was accepted into the internship program at SDP, and she’s never been happier to spread her love of theater and theater community to the next generation. This mom got a tear in her eye as she watched Emma dance and sing last summer with little ones right next to her watching her every move. She got to pour into those kids what was poured into her two years prior. From that one week of summer camp, to main season shows, to internship—SDP truly is a family we feel so privileged to be a part of. We’ve witnessed such immense joy and confidence being built up in our teenager, that we will be forever grateful. Though known as “Emma’s parents,” we are all proud members of that SDP family, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Captain Shelley Bell, Emma Bell, and Captain Zach Bell at the last cast party of SDP's Summer 2017

Captain Shelley Bell, Emma Bell, and Captain Zach Bell at the last cast party of SDP's Summer 2017