" Walking up the aisle of old green seats, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. Sure the audition was over but now I had to sit at home in my messy room . . . and wait. Ever since I was little waiting had always been the hardest part. But I knew that this night of anxiety was going to be especially difficult. I had auditioned for the lead. And I wanted it. I mean I really wanted it. I tried doing homework and watching TV but memories of previous high school productions kept creeping into my mind. Right before opening night everyone gets really uptight. The leading man and lady constantly yell for everyone to shut up followed by a string of threats and swear words that drive the new freshman out of drama and into choir. I thought about Romeo and Juliet and how I came on stage in pink fuzzy slippers. Or during a rehearsal for All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten I put a whoopie cushion on the chair during a really intense scene. I knew that little things broke the tension and eased everyone’s minds. But I wasn’t sure how Ms. Harrison liked my shenanigans. Laying in bed the night before the cast list went up, I said a prayer. I asked Heavenly Father to let Ms. Harrison know that I would take this one seriously. I would work like I never worked before. I climbed back into bed thinking that the prayer would have eased my soul and I would slip into a sound sleep. But my foot kept twitching and my mind kept racing and I still needed to brush my teeth. I hobbled out of my bed back onto the floor and said another faithful prayer to my Father in Heaven. This time I asked to be able to fall asleep. And I did, only I didn’t make it back into my bed.
The next morning the drama room was buzzing. High fives and "congratulations" were being given around that fateful piece of paper held to the door with masking tape. One girl was crying. This was it. I stood far away for a long time. Already diminishing personal value I told myself that I didn’t care if I got the lead or not. I’ve never told myself so many lies in five minutes. The warning bell shrieked through the crowded halls and the students of Eagle High begun to disperse. Now was my chance. I took a deep breath and walked toward the door. I tripped on my way. My heart was racing and my eyes had already begun to sting with disappointment. I closed my eyes and took a breath. With all the bravery left in me I looked at the list. It didn’t take me long to find my name. It was right next to Dolly Levi. The name of the lead character I had fought for. A smile crept over my face. This was it. After four long years, this was my year. Everyone would know me as Dolly Levi in The Matchmaker and no one was going to mess this up. I walked into my classroom trying to hide my excitement. I was greeted with a round of applause. I deserved it. The rest of the day went wonderful and I was on top of the world. After the final bell stated school was out, I walked into the bathroom to freshen up before the rehearsal. I took a look at myself in the mirror. I liked what I saw. There I was: confident, wise, experienced, talented, and not looking too shabby either. I was ready to begin the journey of bringing this play to life. I blew myself a kiss in the mirror and strutted through the bathroom door into the auditorium. What I saw ran shock through my body. A cast of about sixteen, everyone was everywhere. Gertrude the maid was getting a piggy back ride from Ambrose the gentlemen caller. Minnie the hatmaker’s assistant was running around the audience seats followed closely behind by the drunkard of the play. What was going on here? Why weren’t people memorizing their lines? Where was Ms. Harrison to control these hoodlums? Anger swept over me. These . . . "children" were trying to sabotage my play. No way was I going to let that happen. Taking a deep breath and clearing my mind I yelled as loud as I could. Words flowed out of my mouth like venom from a snake. I yanked Gertrude off of Ambrose and cut off Minnie around the eleventh row. Who knows what I was screaming. It was something along the lines of me working too hard and how they didn’t deserve this opportunity like I did. I told them to straighten up and stop messing around. The theater was silent. One could have heard a pin drop. I was still breathing heavy when I saw Ms. Harrison at the door. She gave me a look of disappointment and shook her head slightly before she quietly began the rehearsal. I shrugged off the look. Besides, she wasn’t looking at me anyway. She must have walked in while everyone was running around. I was sure I did her a favor by calming them down before rehearsal started.
Weeks passed and soon enough opening night was only days away. My throat was becoming scratched from yelling at everyone. The technical crew was doing a crappy job getting the set done and they expected me to come in one Saturday to help finish it. I was furious. No way was I going to sacrifice my weekend to come and help a bunch of lazy wanna be actors who didn’t do their job. I expressed my opinion to everyone who listened, and even to people who didn’t. That’s when I drew the last straw for a talented sophomore. Alyssa Taylor had been in a lot of plays throughout her life and once she even said she looked up to me. She was a big girl but still really cute. Except for when you make her mad. This time she wasn’t so cute. All hell broke loose as Alyssa vented all of her built up frustration about me. With a special blend of curse words she told me I had become someone I was not: a drama diva. I was so offended. Who was she anyway? How dare she talk to me that way! She had only gone to this school for two years, and what’s more she was the supporting actress. I was sure she was just jealous I got the lead and she didn’t. She was not going to get away with such rude and uncalled for behavior as long as I was running the show. Afer taking her verbal bashing, I slowly denied everything. Moreover, I was only joking when I said I wasn’t going to help build the set. I told her not to jump to such conclusions and to take things a little more lightly. After I calmly explained all this I smiled sweetly and walked away. I was right (as usual), and life was good again.
February 15, 2004 was a hectic day. I was so nervous about opening night. Was everyone going to ruin my production? Tonight was my night and I was out to make sure it was perfect. The only problem was my costume. Set in the late 1800's, The Matchmaker costumes were extravagant to say the least. Big sleeves and collars to your neck made them fun but also distracted all the inexperienced from what they needed to do. My character was the only one with a costume change and my gowns were fabulous. The inconvenience came with my bustle. It was a little pillow that I wore around my waist so that my butt stuck out (ironically) like the wicked step sisters on Cinderella. It kept falling off and hanging to one side so sometimes my rear end would look, well, less than perky.
I was at my high school dressing rooms at five o’clock sharp and ready to begin the process of getting ready. The theater make up was splattered on my face like paint to a canvas. My hair was swooped up and curled. My costume was pressed and my lips were bright red. To be honest, I kind of looked like Mary Poppins. I needed help getting into my costume and was annoyed when the freshman techie who usually helped me wasn’t on time. The dressing room was full of excitement and opening night jitters. I felt a stab of jealousy as everyone talked to each other and no one asked me how I was doing. Finally freshman Julie arrived and began to pin together my bustle. We tried everything to make it stay up, and finally put enough safety pins in it that not even the world’s biggest magnet could make it fall. I was ready to begin my night.
Ms. Harrison gathered us for a pep talk and we did our exercises. I was about to head back stage when I remembered I had forgotten to say the prayer I say before every performance. Heading into a secluded practice room, I prayed. It was awkward and forced, but I asked Heavenly Father to please make this perfect. I think I might have thanked him for giving me the role, but if I did, I wasn’t too sincere. After a quick "amen" I ran into the wings.
The lights went low and the audience went quiet. The curtain was pulled and the lines began to flow like clockwork. This was actually going pretty well. I kept taking deep breaths until finally I heard my cue. I entered with grace and boomed my lines. I strutted around the stage just like Dolly Levi and my head was clear. Suddenly, there was a snicker in the audience. Then another, and another. The bursts of laughter would come when I turned my back. In a panic I knew that it had something to do with that cursed butt pillow. I thought it fell off. I continued my lines and skimmed the stage for any sign of it. More laughter. What was going on? Keeping my composure I made the decision not to do anything until someone came out to tell me. Gertrude the maid came hobbling on stage. "Ms. Levi," she said, "I think you should check your bottom." I turned my backside to the audience and looked over my shoulder. There was my full moon. Yes, my bustle was still intact, but my skirt had become unhooked in the back, exposing not only my pillow, but my underwear and my tights. Nice. Mortified I excused my self but instead of going off stage through the wings, I turned my back to the audience for one more out burst of painful joy and went out the door that was built that last Saturday. Immediately I was jumped on by the whole cast. Each of them frantically pinning my dress back on and asking me what I was going to do. "Kill myself," I would say, "pass me that dagger." Giggles flowed through the theater as Gertrude and Ambrose tried to improvise. Once I was all done up again, I confidently walked back on stage. I slammed the make shift door and interrupted their conversation.
"Mr. Kemper," I stammered "I’ll have you know that I am a very modest woman." Laughter echoed off the walls and I struggled to start the scene again. Cheers of "Go Carrie!" were heard as I gained my composure.
That night the power went out, a glass broke on stage, a gypsy cut her foot and Barnaby missed his entrance. Surprisingly, I didn’t care. Having been the closest I’ll ever come to being a playboy bunny, I learned a lot. I felt awful for the way I had been acting. Finally I could admit that I was indeed, a drama diva. Suddenly I remembered why I had made it a point not to take myself too seriously. I also recognized what a huge part Heavenly Father had in that whole production. I realized that I can’t do anything without His help, including doing well in my first play as the lead. Most people who act like I did lose all their friends. Lucky for me the cast accepted my apologies and I was invited to the after party.