The confetti cannons pop, but nothing releases. Confetti isn’t used during afternoon run throughs. The crew saves the confetti for the final run tonight. Through your peripheral vision, you see your other cast mates dressed in black sequined suits. Sweat trickles from the lace on your wig. You take deep breaths and wipe the sweat off of your forehead. The exhaustion overwhelms your body. The stage manager’s voice fills the theater.
“Alright everybody. Great run of the show. It’s six now. I will see you back on stage at eight for an invited final dress. Have a great dinner!”
You drink some water to re-energize yourself. You take your time getting out of costume. You glance at your phone every few minutes hoping it will light up with your signal.
“Hey Megan, want to come with us to the deli in town?”
“No thanks! I’m gonna grab something in a bit.”
You wait for everyone to leave the theater. You receive a a text from “Sir,” and you make your way to the sushi restaurant in town.
Your mind races with each step. Not only has the show been a lot to handle, but your personal life has been taking some punches. Your ex-boyfriend wants a second chance, and it’s been hard to ignore. You haven’t had the time to figure out how you honestly feel about it. Most women fantasize about the moment their ex apologizes for everything, and begs for a second chance, but is that really what you want right now? Your mind constantly focuses on the show and taking care of your body, do you have time to fix a relationship that has already broken? You just want to sleep when you get home, and work is not the place to analyze your love life. One of the biggest things theater taught you is that no matter what is going on in your life, you leave it at the door before entering the studio, stage door, etc. No one cares if you’re having a bad day, or if your ex hurt your feelings, or if your dog died. Someone in the audience spent good money to see you smile, dance, and sing your heart out.
Now is the time to quiet all of those thoughts, and just enjoy a good meal… and hopefully good company.
You walk through the heated restaurant and meet “Sir” at a table in the back. You overheat in your long sleeve, wool, turtle neck dress from your neck to your knees. Your black winter hat stays on to cover your wig prep. A vent releases warm air above your head, and certainly doesn’t help the nerves running through your veins. You smile through the sweat. “Sir” smiles back with a glimmer in his cool, blue eyes. You take a seat on a cushioned bench as he sits in the wooden chair across from you.
“Thank you for coming to dinner. I wasn’t sure that you would say yes.”
“No need to thank me. I was pleasantly surprised that you asked.”
He asks more about your life outside of work. Before you know it, you are caught in a tennis match of questions. Conversation continues and calms you to a cool. This is easy, it’s honest, and it’s the perfect distraction from all of the stress that surrounds you. After a wonderful 50 minutes, the bill is paid, and you walk half way to the theater together. He stops and turns to you.
“I really enjoyed this time together. You are absolutely lovely and so easy to talk to. I wish we had more time.”
“Me too. This was really nice.”
He seals the evening with an act of endearment, and continues towards the theater. You stay back and watch him walk away. He was the perfect gentleman, he was kind, and he naturally carried himself in a way you’d hoped other men in your life would have. All of that said, you have less than a week before he’s off to another country. You will be touring the U.S. with this show for a year and a half. Whether you see this man again or not, you had a lovely dinner. You learned more about how you deserve to be treated, and you can carry his positivity with you through this new, exciting adventure that awaits you with this production.
You re-enter the theater with the perfect energy to give the invited audience members everything they want to see and more. The girls in the dressing room notice your boost, but don’t question where it came from. Instead, you turn on some music and blast the speakers. You warm up by jumping and dancing around to some old school jams as you sing along to Michael Jackson and Selena Quintanilla. You strut to the stage and arrive on your opening number. The lights black out. The sound effect resembling a gun shot echo through the theater. For the first time, you hear the sound of an audience gasp. Goosebumps raise through your skin.
With each scene, it’s as if those goosebumps never go away. It’s incredible to finally have an audience to feed off of to help drive the energy of the show. If this is what the final dress rehearsal feels like, imagine what opening night will bring. The sliders close as the play off music continues. You faintly hear an echo of applause continuing until the music ends. You hear your director’s voice boom through the monitors on stage.
“Fantastic work everyone. I will wait to give you all notes before the first preview. Enjoy the rest of the night.”
It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and you have never been more thankful for every day leading up to now. After a lifetime of training, years of auditioning, 4 weeks of rehearsal, endless hours of tech, dress rehearsals, and previews, you finally open the U.S. premiere of a musical in a Tony Award-winning regional theater. Two bucket list goals check off.
You walk into the dressing room laughing with excitement seeing all of the opening night gifts at your station. Cards, candy, cups, booze, and two bouquets of flowers. One from a friend in L.A., and another from “Sir.” He’s been gone a week already, but he made sure he was here in spirit for opening. Funny enough, your ex is here for opening night. Your dressing roommate, Emily walks over to smell the flowers.
“Your ex better step up his game if he wants a second chance. He better not be empty handed.”
“Oh stop! I don’t care about all of that. I just want to enjoy tonight.”
Your phone lights up and you see a text from your parents.
“Break a leg honey! Love you!”
That’s what matters. You get to share your success with the people who made it all possible. You keep your focus on your parents, and the love and support you receive from your cast and crew.
After another ladies room jam session, you walk onto the stage to join the cast in a circle. Everyone puts a hand in the middle of the circle. Deborah looks around gifting words of encouragement.
“Alright y’all, this is the moment we’ve been working for. Go out there and be fierce. Let’s show them what we came here to do. BG on three. One, two, three…”
The audience roars. People stand clapping and dancing in front of their seats and in the aisles. You scan the crowd to see a complete standing ovation. You have no idea how you got to this moment. The show felt like it was stuck on fast forward. Your heart burst through your blazer as you head back to your dressing room. You exit the stage door in your opening night dress with all of your goodies in hand. Seeing the prideful smiles on your parents’ faces makes every little bit of stress you’ve dealt with worth it. Since you were a child, you’ve fantasized about moments like this. You’ve fantasized about being able to treat your parents to opening night parties with glitz and glam after everything they’ve done for you. You’ve fantasized about making it as a true professional in this industry. For the first time, those fantasies are your reality.