A Child-ish Dream became Reality

A Child-ish Dream became Reality

Pankhudi Prasad

Music, drama, horror, botany, and more are all aspects of a new project Weston Long is working on: Little Shop of Horrors. The actor/puppeteer, and a Waterford alumnus, is now working alongside many known names in the performing business such as Rob McCluref, Lena Hall, and Bryce Pinkham. This story is centered around a nerdy florist who finds a chance for success and romance with the help of giant man-eating plants. Long is very proud of this project and has accomplished great things as an actor and puppeteer. These achievements are possible due to the support system he had. 


Unlike most parents who try to convince their child to pursue a lucrative career instead of one in performing arts, as an actor and puppeteer, Weston Long’s parents were on his side from the get-go. They never once tried to convince him to pursue a more ‘stable’ career, such as a doctor or lawyer, and steer him towards a lifestyle he was not passionate about. Even throughout the challenges that this career brings, they maintained a positive attitude. Instilling not only hope and faith into their son but also values that prepared him for the world. They had full faith in their son from the start, and he did not disappoint.


At the age of five, Long started participating in community theater and continued performing in shows that took place at the elementary and middle school, and later on many at Waterford High School Drama Program. He spoke about how each shows that he was a part of taught him something new and helped him become a better actor: “Every show is an experience and each experience teaches you things that you then carry on. Your work is never done, you are never done learning and experimenting.” Being a part of local theatrical productions, he was able to learn basic skills and also help ensure that he truly wanted this life. 


Weston Long attributes some of his success to his idol, Caroll Spinney (1933-2019), popularly known as Big Bird. Long wrote to Spinney when he was five years old about his dreams of becoming a successful actor and puppeteer, wanting to participate in big productions like Spinney. To almost everyone’s surprise, Spinney replied to his letter, jump-starting Long’s adventurous career. From tutoring him on his acting skills to consulting him through life’s challenges, Spinney was there. Long could not have imagined a childhood without Spinney because he has been there since the start, saying, “I can’t remember a time before he was a part of it. I wrote him a letter for the first time when I was five, meeting him for the first time when I was seven. He continued to be a guiding presence for me for the next seventeen years until he passed.” Along with his parents, Spinney is one of the reasons Long achieved his dream life

Moreover, Long never forgets Spinney’s collaborative spirit. Even after playing Big Bird for four decades, he was always willing to converse with the directors and writers of the show to get the work finished as effectively as possible, instead of holding an ego about his knowledge of a certain character. This value is now instilled in Long, who says that collaboration is one of his favorite aspects of his career. Being given the chance to work with others towards a common goal and being allowed to make it personal helps make the final product more memorable. And thanks to his mentor, Long was taught that “This affection doesn’t go away.”


While puppetry is a hard profession to pursue, Long says, “I never had a Plan B. Acting and puppetry were it for me.” Although the road to this success has been hard. Undoubtedly, Long has had a good support system. However, show business means many ups and downs. Long admitted that many times he had to work extra jobs to make ends meet until Little Shop of Horrors. He worked as an office assistant in an accounting office, a general helper at the aquarium, an intern at a recruiting firm, and a puppetry teacher in a middle school. He also said that in the future he would probably have to take on other jobs to continue his lifestyle, but in the end, the projects he could partake in would be worth the hustle. Long likes working there because of the working environment and the people. According to him, he has “never had stability in a job like this before,” and thus is enjoying it. He loves the people he works with and is “relishing” every bit of it! 


After years of effort, Weston Long has reached an area in his life where he not only makes his younger self proud, but also his family members, his friends, and Waterford High School. A child that once came into school with a “child-ish dream” is not only living his dream but living it well. He can pursue his hobby of acting and puppetry after the many shows he participated in, both in high school and outside. He is proud of his work–and his chocolate chip cookie recipe! He is showing kids and/or adults how a dream can come true, all they have to do is believe.