5 Reasons to Take Your Child to Support Their Local Theater


As a parent, we’re always looking for ways to entertain our children. Don’t get me wrong, movies and indoor play areas are great but few parents ever think to take their child to a local theatre. So when I found out that The Lion King—my son’s favorite movie—was making its debut at Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, I couldn’t wait for him to experience it on a different level.

Lion king at Lynn Meadows Discovery centerI hope to instill a love for the arts and local art programs in our children. And I know this was a step in the right direction.

Here are some things we learned from our visit to the WINGS program.


Take your children to see their favorite show or movie in a different form—take them to see it live! Imagine your child’s favorite storybook or movie come to life on the stage in front of their eyes.

It’s one thing to watch The Lion King—and it’s another to see it in person!

Imagination is absolutely essential to a child’s daily life: thinking, dramatic playing, learning, and developing. And the local theatre is one of the best places to experience all of that and more.
young Simba and mom
Walter Hampton Jr. plays young Simba. Pictured with mother, LaTerrical Ward.

I was blown away by the talent of these local youngsters! It was so special to sit next to a mother watching her son perform as Young Simba. It was only his second play and he was a natural! He auditioned and was thrilled to learn he was one of the main characters of the show! I could feel his mother’s joy as she spoke of his accomplishments. And my son was super excited to meet Walter Hampton, a 5th grader from Vancleave.

“He’s always been very smart! He even knew his lines before they started practicing. He’s good at memorizing!” – LaTerrical Ward, mother of Walter Hampton


Attending shows is a great way to experience new worlds without driving a long distance. Seeing the African savannah on a Sunday afternoon was just what we needed!

The theater immerses the audience in stories about people (and creatures!) from every aspect of life. Through live theatre, children see a glimpse of cultures from all time periods and corners of the world.

The set and the costumes were truly amazing. We even plan to make an elephant out of umbrellas just like they did!


During intermission, my son asked 668854 times when they were starting again. He couldn’t wait to see the actors and dancing!

We all know YouTube clips rely on constantly changing images to keep those with a short attention span entertained. A live performance is far greater on the senses than anything your children will see on a screen. The WINGS live theatre show was highly engaging and used realistic sets to bring its stories to life—and, best of all, my son never took his eyes off the entertainment.

Your child is more likely to notice a stage actor’s facial expressions, the way the stage set adapts from scene to scene, the sparkle in the star’s costume or the way the music changes to reflect the mood of the scene. These sensory experiences complete a story in a way your children cannot possibly encounter any where else.

Attending local theatre performances teaches children to slow down, sit still, pay attention and enjoy what they are watching.


Whether it be a history lesson or a life lesson, your child is bound to learn something from the things they see in one of the shows.

I saw firsthand how the WINGS program “nurtures the talent and spirit of young people through the arts, community service and leadership.”

It teaches us all that art can truly come to life!


So you have a 5-year-old and a 16-year-old? No problem! The productions are usually short and will keep their attention with the lively songs and dances.

Lion king zazu family
Zazu is played by Layne Conrad. Pictured with parents.

As soon as the production finished, we headed to the stage area to take photos with the characters! Zazu, the silly sassy bird in the movie, was our favorite. And Layne was so nice to take photos with his little fans. He and my son didn’t know each other but they enjoyed talking about his colorful costume—which was a fan favorite! 

The performance was both fun and educational.

After the show, we made a special stop at the gift shop. My son picked out a stuffed lion, Leon—his new movie night buddy when he watches The Lion King.

Boy at Lynn meadows Discovery center
We loved making a stop at the gift shop for a stuffed lion.


The award-winning WINGS program puts on several entertaining productions throughout the year. Come see the talented youth in our community take the stage.

This program has been available to children in our community for 20+ years. Over 500 students from 1st – 12th grades participate annually in this program through memberships, summer programs and school outreach. They host nine amazing productions throughout the year.

They have even performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.—twice!


The African savannah comes to life on stage with Simba, Rafiki and an unforgettable cast of characters as they journey from Pride Rock to the jungle… and back again, in this inspiring, coming-of-age tale.

The lion king kids

The Lion King, Jr. runs again this weekend, March 25-27!

The Lion King Kids will run from April 1-3!

Click here for show times and ticket info. Tickets are only $15 and support the local arts.

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Christy is Co-Founder and Owner of Gulf Coast Moms Blog. She was born in Costa Rica and moved to the United States when she was 6 years old. She vividly remembers flying into New Orleans and knew, in the moments to come, her life would change forever. She grew up in Moss Point and moved to Hattiesburg to attend college at Southern Miss, where she received her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She met her love, Matthew, and they have enjoyed married life for 13 years. They live in Long Beach with their precious children, John Salem and Ann-Michael. Prior to co-founding Gulf Coast Moms Blog, she had a successful 10+ year career in higher education administration, where she developed and spear-headed campus-wide student initiatives and events. Christy is now spending her days as a stay-at-home mom and serves her community through several non-profit organizations. She enjoys making Costa Rican tamales, a fresh margarita from El Aguila, annual sister spa day, collecting random owl things (Hootie Hoo to my Chi Omega sisters), words of wisdom from Irish priests and pool days. She is passionate about connecting women and creating a supportive, nurturing community to empower moms.