Destini Sigler, 15-year-old Yelm girl, has always dreamed of playing Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.”
Now, despite undergoing brain surgery just two months ago, she gets the opportunity through Creative Theater Experience in Olympia.
“Ever since I was very little, playing Dorothy was one of the things I wanted to do,” Sigler said. “When I found out I got the part, I cried. I was just so happy. It feels like a dream come true.”
Just one month before the June 24 auditions for the summer youth theater production, Destini had a benign tumor and cyst removed from her pituitary gland.
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“It was like two golf balls,” her father, David Sigler, said.
“About two years ago we saw a decline in her energy level,” he said. “We were kind of pushing her and just thought she was being a lazy teen. But around this last April, she started having severe headaches, nausea, vomiting — unexplained.”
Destini said she felt lethargic, and her vision declined.
She went to several doctors and Destini was told she was okay — that she had a sinus infection, she was going through puberty, other explanations.
This past Mother’s Day, Destini’s mother, Dawn, took her to the emergency room, where she got a CT scan. The mass was discovered and the family was able to see it.
Dawn said the tumor on her pituitary gland was 4 centimeters in size, with a rapidly growing cyst. Her short-term memory was declining and the mass was pressing on her optic nerve, compromising her vision.
The family met with doctors and discussed treatment to shrink the tumor.
David said the family “raised a little heck,” and went to Children’s Hospital in Seattle, where they did scans on a Tuesday and operated that Friday.
Rather than cutting open the head, doctors were able to remove the tumor and cyst through the nose.
“It was necessary to have surgery,” Destini said. “Everything, in my opinion, went extremely well and I’m thankful I was in the hands of those doctors. I was terrified but well-comforted.”
She is still recovering, but doctors tell her she is moving quickly and doing well so far.
This is Destini’s second year in CTE, having previously been in “Bye Bye Birdie.” She said she has always loved to sing, so playing Dorothy is not so difficult.
“It’s effortless to play my role,” she said. “Destini to Dorothy is not a big difference.”
She even went as Dorothy for Halloween two years in a row as a little girl.
But she admitted it’s a challenge working with the dog playing Toto, as well as flying 20-30 feet in the air with a harness.
CTE’s Artistic Director Kathy Dorgan is directing this year’s show with 58 kids in the cast, six kids on the production team and 10 interns.
Dorgan said she had no idea what Destini had been through until they were well into rehearsals.
“She’s an enthusiastic, energetic, spunky and talented girl,” Dorgan said. “She’s incredibly hardworking, willing to experiment, willing to try stuff out and she knew her lines really early on.”
And she’s kept up with a demanding rehearsal schedule from noon to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, extending into the evening with flying practice and dress rehearsal.
“It’s just such a crazy story,” Dorgan said. “Playing Dorothy is a lot for a girl Destini’s age anyway, and here she is two months later — clicking those ruby slippers together and flying. ... It's pretty cool.”
David Sigler said he and his wife are proud parents and cannot wait to see the show, opening Thursday night (July 30).
“She’s an amazing girl and we’ve always known something big in her life is going to happen,” he said.
Destini said she learned a great deal through this emotional journey.
“Live every day to its full potential. Your life can be thrown into chaos in one second,” she said. “Don’t let a day go by not appreciated.”
Natalie DeFord: 360-754-5444
THE WIZARD OF OZ
When: 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. Saturday (Saturday is a sing-along performance)
Where: Olympia High School performing arts center, off Carlyon Avenue
Tickets: $11 online, $13 at the box office
More information: www.ctekids.org/home