The sun will come out

Published 8:28 am Thursday, October 29, 2015

This time of year, I usually have theater on the brain.

Nearly a decade of fall musicals at Brandywine led to countless memories and a family of friends I’ll never forget.

This week has been no different, as one of my favorite show tunes — in the voice of one of my theater friends — has been stuck in my head since Tuesday morning.

My freshman year, Brandywine’s fall musical was “Annie,” and because so many people auditioned for the show, we had two casts. Two sophomores were cast as the title characters: One a theater veteran known for her beautiful voice, and one a newer student most of the cast had never met before.

The latter was a self-proclaimed “punk-rock princess” (she’d probably laugh at herself for that today) who had the red hair and petite frame that fit the part of little orphan Annie, but her metal rock voice led the cast — myself included — to question our director’s decision.

That is, until we got to know her.

Still an underclassman and relatively new student, Zane — as we called her then — was identified based on the characteristics high school students tend to judge their peers on: her looks. She wore dark clothing, dark eyeliner, dark nail polish and had piercings. With these strictly external stereotypes in mind we were quick to judge Zane as a sad, quiet, angry person.

Just a few minutes with Zane proved that our judgments were incorrect.

I realize now that Suzanne was one of the funniest people I knew, and her optimism likely surpasses anyone I’ve met to date. Zane constantly encouraged everyone around her and quickly became a role model for the young cast, often reminding us that we were our own worst critics, because our own opinions of ourselves are the only ones that really matter.

When Zane took the stage on opening night to perform the classic song that “Annie” is known for, she may not have sounded like any other person to have ever played the part, but her personality shined through — and she truly rocked the stage. While the audience may have been a bit surprised by the punk rock adaptation, I had goose bumps waiting in the wings, and I know I wasn’t alone.

So when I learned Tuesday morning that Suzanne “Zane” Pearman had passed away over the weekend, the first thing that popped in my head was my friend reminding the world in her own way that “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow.”

Throughout high school, those lucky enough to spend time with Zane learned that beneath her dark clothing choices was an effervescent person with a great knack for writing poetry, prose and comedy sketches. After high school, she moved to Chicago, became a published writer and spent a lot of time tutoring struggling students and reminding them — much like she reminded our cast — that they could do whatever they set their minds to.

Looking back, I realize through her tutor tendencies, Zane taught me a lot about life. She taught me not to judge a book by its cover, to be comfortable in my skin, to broadcast my own interests instead of adhering to the status quo.

When people die young, feelings of anger and confusion often accompany their loss. Those left behind are left to wonder why a life was cut short, but something tells me Zane would want to remind everyone that they have the opportunity to choose happiness over pain.

It may not be tomorrow, but if we echo Zane’s optimism and remember we are blessed with the possibility of better days, we can “clear away the cobwebs and the sorrows.” Until then, I’ll fondly remember the 16-year-old punk rocker who wowed the crowd at Brandywine with her confidence and individuality and keep in mind that, eventually, the sun will come out again.


Ambrosia Neldon is the managing editor at Leader Publications. She can be reached by phone at (269) 687-7713, or by email at