Play On!1:28 PM
"You girls ready for this?"
"Nick," she says into the walkie-talkie, "stage left is ready."
We squeal louder.
And it's not even opening night.
Rehearsals start early and intense at 10 AM, when the doors open and the makeup and hair rooms start cramming up. The lines are long -- the rooms are packed. Every other person we compliment on how great their costume is or "Oh, wow, I love your hair!" We come in bleary-eyed, makeup removed, hair just pulled from the pillow, too sleepy to remember our names, and go out on stage an Egyptian or a cowboy -- or a Harvard journalism major.
I stared at the mirror with a full face of makeup for the first time last Thursday. If Bailey were ever to rebel and become a goth, that would be the visage she'd take on. And even beyond the mirror, the horror haunts me. It is essential that I be able to slap hands on my cheeks, over my eyes, across my forehead. A drama queen isn't sane without it.
But you can't dramatically rub ones weary eyes if orange eye shadow, cold mascara and dark eyeliner are what first greet your fingers. (Foundation? I checked the car mirror before driving away that Thursday and realized that if Bailey were to ever rebel and be a goth with a bad tanning job, that would be the visage she'd take on.)
Speaking of a bad job, acting hasn't all been peaches and cream. There's a certain scene where I scream, grab onto Skip and hit the concrete. I had a bruise to prove it -- once. Luckily it stayed long enough for me to complain about it to a good number of people before fading away. That same scream, Bethany informs me, is what causes peals of laughter to go off backstage.
"Is it really that funny?" I wanted to know.
"No," she said. "You just sound like the bird from Up."
In general, lines go smoothly. It's awkward standing around in a scene, realizing that someone's line is missing and more importantly that you can't for the life of you remember which one. Our first audience experienced a lovely five minute ad libbing session when a student was held up in the makeup room against her will. Due to the surplus of amazing and hilarious actors, ad libbing increases the hilarity of the show, usually. Leave it to me, though, to sacrifice my intelligence on the altar of forgetfulness.
My line was "I don't know, but I having a feeling we'll know when we see it." It was one of those days when I couldn't do anything quite perfect, and it ended up, "I don't know, but I have a feeling we'll know when we find out." I suppose, if somehow everyone was feeling as redundant as I, that I could have pulled it off.
Lines don't phase me as much as dancing. No matter how many times somehow tells us ballerinas we do a beautiful job, I feel like a stork, on stilts, on stage. To make matters worse, there's always a person or a heavy metal thing or a box of ancient artifacts right when something critical must needs take place -- a jump, a dramatic arm fling, a delicate bouree.
Even then, I can handle that. What I can't handle is the feeling that my shoe is about to come off when dancing. It even happens when walking -- when walking smack dab in center stage to divert everyone's attention to the treasure I'm holding in my hand. Pass the duct tape, please.
Tape reminds me of the time I was running around looking for some Scotch tape to plaster something up on the makeup room mirror. Which reminds me of running around looking for the miniature Laura Ingalls, Sacajawea, Amelia Earhart and Elvis Presley when we're about to take an early morning tour of the wax museum. When I was first cast for the part, I freaked out with joy -- I got to handle all the adorable little children. They come looking for me during major dance scenes. They sit on my lap (and practice bowing) while we watch the denouement play out and the lights dim for the last song. They have such small parts and such huge enthusiasm -- "Which song is this? The Lizzie Borden song? Is it time to go on yet? Hurry, guys, we're going on! I love doing this! This is so much fun!" During the one practice where we went over the scene about five times in a row, the Elvis Presley-wannabe kept exclaiming, "Yes! We get to do it again! This is so much fun!"
He's right. Even though I've seen the play a million times, can quote most of it by memory and have sang the same songs, danced the same dances and said the same things over and over -- there is no more amazing feeling than this:
The stage goes black. The talk whispers down to an excited hush. The audience quiets. The thunder rumbles. You step out on stage.
And the play goes on.