Laying on the floor of the green room, listening through the speaker to what was happening on stage, and praying I wouldn’t forget my lines, when I finally-ugh-went on stage. It’s not supposed to be like this! I was thinking. I shouldn’t just want it to just be over!
I got sick. During show week. The worst time I could have gotten sick.
We had dress rehearsal on Monday and Tuesday, and I could tell it was coming. On Wednesday I woke up, and was sick enough I didn’t get out of bed, I just stayed in my pyjamas all Wednesday and Thursday, and drank two boxes-no joke-of Throat Coat tea, trying desperately to get my voice back to where I could talk without it hurting, and actually sing my solo-something I didn’t want to think about, much less do.
Then Friday came. I was still sick, still drinking a cup of Throat Coat every half-hour and only talking as much as I had to, and feeling miserable. It was performance day. Whoopie.
And now I was panicking. It didn’t look like it-I was just laying on the floor, by the drums in the band room at the High School that doubles for our green room. Would I be able to sing? Would I remember my lines? Would I be able to talk-much less, project? Only time would tell, and the time was coming–fast.
There was intermission. I came on after intermission. But first were the olios. Ten more minutes. Only ten. . . then the olios ticked off. First the dance from Newsies, then Cousin Jack and The Houswife’s Lament, and then the curtains parted, the lights came up, and the heroine started her speech about being held in the villain’s grasp, in my den. And there was our cue: “. . .The vision is dissipated, and I am undone.”
I walked onstage with my fellow villains, adjusting my eyepatch and looking at ‘stolen’ jewels. Our song was during this scene, but I still had some time. Right now I had to concentrate on my lines. . . project, Malia, project!
I sang my solo in our song, and while it wasn’t nearly as good as it could have been, it wasn’t the complete and utter flop I was expecting. And once it was over I was so relieved that I felt better. I felt like maybe-just maybe-I wouldn’t ruin the melodrama. Not today, anyway. After all, there was tomorrow. The last performance.
I woke up Saturday morning, and couldn’t believe it was Saturday. Had the melodrama really happened yesterday? Or was it just an awful dream-being sick performance night? Nope, it was real-I knew because I wasn’t the only one. At least half a dozen of us were in some stage of sickness, getting sick, or getting better on Friday and Saturday. Including my own dear Mum, our director.
Friday wasn’t a typical first night. Usually everyone is excited, and bouncing off the walls, and I’m right there with them. We were still all excited, but there was that–the ever-present threat of being sick, losing your voice-and still, to go on. ‘The show must go on!’ as the old maxim says.
It wasn’t the excitement that kept me going. That told me ‘I was going to be great’ or ‘just mouth the words in the girls’ song, so you won’t lose your voice’, or even ‘you look great-the scar is perfect!’. It was really my wonderful friends that got me up, and on that stage, and made sure I was ready.
Saturday wasn’t typical either, but it was better. I woke up with a sore throat again, but it wasn’t as horrible. And by the time we went to the High School, I was excited-actually excited. My hair was back in dozens of little braids that I had done up that morning, we were there early enough I could set up music and the makeup even before my makeup team got there, and it was perfect day. Warm, sunny. . . spring!
By the time we were done with makeup, I had lost some of my cheeriness. And I realised-I really needed to eat. I hadn’t eaten at all. I had just drunk lots of Throat Coat. Ugh. Lots of Throat Coat. And thankfully, like always, our wonderful drama mamas had brought an amazing supper.
The second night went amazingly. Even though half a dozen of us were sick, it was pretty fabulous.
One of my friends said this play must be cursed-when we did it first, 9 years ago, his brother had been in it and the day of the performance he woke up with the flu. He came just in time to do his makeup, then he went on. Sickness last time, sickness this time. I see his point. But even with that, we get people telling us ‘That was your best one yet!’, or ‘I still remember that scene, from years ago’.
This is our favorite script. It clever-We have a hero who gets drunk and sees lavender snakes in his glass, a war veteran with a peg leg, a damsel in distress-“an orphan of the storm!”, a sneaky villain with a ‘gen-u-ine snakeskin necktie’, a kidnapper with an eyepatch, villains-turned-cops and good guys turned bad, singing about how the criminal life is the best-everything fits together, with the fabulous scenery, costumes, accents, and of course the wonderful lines, to make an amazing melodrama.
Virtue always triumphs in the end!