One glance at her room and it’s no secret that Faith Miller is crazy about “Wicked,” the musical. Sitting in front of autographed pictures and the posters of green-faced witches on her walls is a suitcase – a prop – used in the actual Broadway show a few weeks ago.
It was actually the same suitcase Faith, 17, used in her first Broadway performance; like the pictures, it is signed by several performers of “Wicked.”
A resident of Chester and a rising sophomore at Thomas Dale High School, Faith was granted the wish of a lifetime not even a month ago.
“I have Cystic Fibrosis so pretty much ever since I was diagnosed in the fourth grade my doctor’s talked about the Make-A-Wish Foundation,” Faith said. “And so I never really knew what I wanted to do, and Mom made me wait – thank goodness. Then after an interview with the director of Make-A-Wish I told them I liked singing and acting and that I liked ‘Wicked.’ So that’s how I came to be an extra in the show.”
According to the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Foundation website, the inherited chronic disease affects a person’s lungs and digestive system, causing the body to produce “unusually thick, sticky mucus that: clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections; and obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.”
The disease affects 30,000 Americans (70,000 people worldwide), and each year 1,000 new cases are diagnoses of CF. Also, according to the Foundation’s website, the predicted average age of survival for a person with CF is in their mid-30s.
These numbers don’t seem to bother Faith much – if at all: “I just try to keep it in perspective,” she said, “something good always happens.”
The Miller family received a call in late April from the Foundation, whose mission is enriching the lives of young people with life-threatening medical conditions through wish-granting work; after performing in numerous school plays in recent years, Faith’s wish to be a Broadway star would be granted.
After being picked up from home in a limousine, Faith, her little brother and her parents were taken to the Richmond International Airport on Wednesday, July 13. Hours later they arrived in New York City where a limo waited for them once again. The entirety of their expenses was paid for by the Foundation.
Before long, Faith found herself participating in dress rehearsals in preparation for the show and spending time backstage with the some of the world’s best performers. For Faith’s family the best part of the trip was the authentic kindness the cast and crew showered on their daughter.
“A crew member told me that this is their job, they do this day in and day out for years sometimes,” said her mother, Carol Miller, “so to have something like this just breaks up the monotony.”
Faith was in a total of six “Wicked” scenes, wore two different costumes , two wigs and even a microphone, absorbing about 20 minutes of total stage time the night of her Broadway premiere. At the show’s conclusion, Faith bowed between the two leading actresses.
“The whole cast was just looking at her and I cried,” said Miller. “She was a full-fledged actress that day and she just fit in so well.” Despite her being a natural fan of her daughter’s talents, Miller said Faith’s performance was splendid.
Faith was then approached by loads of cheering fans requesting her autograph and a picture taken with her.
“It was an amazing experience to see, first of all, how other people treated her with such respect and such love,” said her father, Gary. “So that in itself was amazing, but then to be able to participate was just a fantastic memory for her.”
In the fall, Faith will train with the Christian Youth Theatre and then will audition for “Beauty and the Beast” in the spring. In the mean time she will be working to complete her novel on teenage romance and vampires.