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Behind the Curtian
I walk into a beige room with crisp wooden panel floors. A piano, black as night, sitting alone in the corner of the room. There is a mirror wall behind me, reflecting the landscaping of 5th avenue and Broadway. It is a bright day, the sun touches everything in its way. The room is very open; it has a ballet bar going across the mirror.
“Hi, I am Matt Streisand.” I say. I grew up in the outskirts of New York City. Every month my grandparents would take me to see a Broadway show. I was always intrigued by the way the move on the actors move upon the stage. They moved flawlessly from on side to another, never stumbling on the notes. I’ve known I was born to be on a Broadway stage since I was 10. So, by the time I was 18, I moved out, bought a crappy apartment with my best friend Katrina. The only work we could find was working at the gift shop at the Gershwin. It was close to the theater so we didn’t mind as much.
As I walk toward the piano with my sheet music at my left and my headshot in my right hand. I begin to shake. This audition can either make my dreams happen or break them. I hand the pianist my music and my head shot to the assistant. I stand center. As I look out waiting for my cue, I feel the walls caving in on me. The room is so intimidating knowing that this can define my life. I begin to sing, “Tonight, Tonight.”
I continue to belt the famous song to West Side Story. The role of Tony in the new revival is between me and one other. It’s a battle to the death. The winner gets the role of a life time. (I was born to play it.) I can’t help but thinking that he’s going to win. My song finishes. I thank them, and I walk out. Will is outside the room waiting, the other competitor waiting for his chance. I say nothing but give a nod, “Will, you’re next,” says the assistant. As he walks in, I take his seat and lean my ear up against the cold black door. Da** it! He’s doing Somewhere! Why didn’t I think of that? He sounds good from what I can hear. He’s loud, on key, and tall. I don’t know what to do. So, I rush out into the bustling streets of New York and head down to the subway.
I sit quietly for 10 minutes until I reach my stop. The apartment is one black away. So, I run. Weaving in and out of people, trees, garbage cans, and of course the famed food carts. “ Hey how was it,” Katrina asks.
“ Horrible, I got so nervous I can’t even remember what happened. Will’s performance was so whole from what I heard. He will probably get the role.”
“You can’t think like that, the more you do, the more you’re going to stop trying!” Katrina said.
“It’s the truth!”
They wouldn’t! Why did I even set up this dream? It’s never going to happen, never, never, NEVER!” I throw the pillow across the room. The pillow soars through the air and transforms into tiny white fragments. I lie down on my bed and fall asleep.
The next day my agent calls. “Hello?”
“Yeah, what’s the news?” I ask.
“Well, the director loved you, and wants you to come back for a test run. She said that you had the feel and voice of Tony, but Will seemed to fit the role. So today at noon they want you both in the Palace Theater, come in dance wear. Rest your voice.”
“Blah Blah, I know the deal. It’s not like I haven’t been through this process before”
I have one hour to get ready. The palace theater is a good 30 minutes via cab. So, I scarf down some scrambled eggs, orange juice, and an apple. Katrina hasn’t even woke up yet. She has to get to work within the next hour. On my way to my room, open her door. “Hey, you’re not sleeping beauty! You have to get to work!” I scream. She jumps out of bed. I run to my room, throw on a light gray T-shirt, sweat pants, and throw jazz shoes in to bag and bolt out the door.
The streets are already alive. Automobiles speeding by, dogs yelping, old men screaming at children. Just a typical day in New York City. Taxi’s galore! It’s always funny watching tourist try to get a taxi. They don’t understand that when all the lights are on, it means their unavailable. Since I have lived in New York for about two years now, I’ve learned to hail a cab.
I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston is playing on the radio. The world is still shocked about the ordeal of her recent death, So, I don’t mind I sit back and try to calm down but I can’t. Just the thought of me playing such an iconic role such as Tony is overwhelming Let alone me evening being on a real Broadway stage for eight shows a week! I could win a Tony award. All these thoughts cloud my brain and I can’t think of anything. The cab rushes to a hard stop. Here I am! I search for my wallet and pull out $35 dollars. “$1.76 is your change.” I nod and run in. Of course I have to pass security, always a hassle. 10 minutes early, yes! I can get a small leg up. We begin to mambo to The Dance at the Gym. We work rigorously for 3 hours. We go through the dance a myriad of times. Finally it’s show time! We both alternate who dances in it. So, I decide to let him go first so I can pick out his weak spots. “5,6,7,8,” says the choreographer.
The music starts. Hearts are pounding. I watch as Will goes through the movement. He moves so flawlessly through the Mambo. There it is; he finally stumbles. That little trip can destroy his dreams and help mine. Will is able to ameliorate his performance. He goes back to his stellar dancing.
“Matt let’s go!”
Alright, it’s time to show them that I deserve this. 5,6,7,8! Step, step, pivot, pivot. Dip, jump, twirl, run. Catch her, swing her, and begin to tango. 5,6,7,8! All that runs through my mind are the moves. I’m coming up to where Will messed up. Alright Matt, Jump, Spin, cartwheel, Slide her, slide on knees. I did it! Now, I begin to relax. The sweat drips off my body onto the cold wooden floor.
My feet can barely move. The dance was so exhausting; my legs can’t hold my weight. I collapse onto the chair. My IPhone rings. Katrina is calling to see how I did on the audition. However, I am too tired to move another muscles; I ignore her calls and texts. All I can think about is sleep.
20 minutes later, I wake. Its 4: 35 pm. I glance down at my phone’s screen. 8 missed calls and 15 new text messages. All from Katrina. Was I asleep for that long! I dazedly walk out the doors and on to the street. I decided to take the subway. A sea of people flood down to the subway, street singers are entertaining us, and I throw five dollars into his velvet top hat. The sub doesn’t take that long, thank God!
When I arrive at the apartment, I simply trudge through the halls and into the kitchen. All I need is to get some food in my stomach before I faint. My eyes become fixed on a box doughnuts. The powdered coating with raspberry jam stuck in the middle ready to ooze out. I munch on the entire box of 12 doughnuts. Now I wish I had not eaten them, but they were so good!
“Hey, I’m home,” Katrina announced
“I’m watching T.V!” I reply
“How did it go today?”
“Tiring, the dance was so fast and quick. I had trouble focusing. Will stumbled; I think that is a good advantage.”
“Great! See what I told you, be positive and things will be good!”
“Whatever, now please leave, I’m watching Glee!”
Katrina comes and sits down beside me. It is quiet and peacefully, no one is uttering a single sound. Today is the day that the call that will create or destroy me dreams will come.
“You know today is the day, right?” I inform her.
“Oh dear, whatever happens know that I am here for you. West Side Story won’t be amazing without you!” She says happily.
All my body is capable to do is sit and watch T.V, knowing that the call could come at any instant. How I Met Your Mother turns on; I don’t even have the energy to change the channel. My phone rings. I rush to answer.
“Hello?” I panic
“Hey, I want to let you know that they would like you and Will to come down to the theater so that they can tell you in person. Okay?” my agent says.
So, once I again I throw on some jeans, a white T-Shirt, and a blue, IZOD, button-up shirt. I roll the sleeves and head out the door. Katrina wants to come with. I can’t stop her; she has been there for me on everything.
We hail a taxi to the theater and arrive there at about 6:39 PM. We walk through the doors. I am screaming on the inside out of sheer fear.
“Matt, Stay calm.” Katrina warns me.
“Remember, be positive. You were born to do this.” She says.
“Thanks, I really have to go now!” I laugh, only to mask my fear.
As she makes her way to the front row seat, I pass Will.
“Good Luck,” I wish him.
“Yeah, you too!” he says back.
That was the only speech we ever exchanged. I am almost certain we will never speak again, knowing that this decision will change our lives. Now, the Director, Producer, and Assistant Director make their ways to center stage. Everything went into slow motion.
“Before we tell you,” The Director says, “this is the hardest decision we ever had to make. You two were both perfect and amazing. However, there is only one that can be Tony.”
My heart is pounding, about ready to explode. I look over to Katrina for support; her hands are clasped together, eyes closed and her lips mouthing a prayer. I turn to Will. He is biting his lip. Me, my hands are behind my back with my fingers crossed.
“Matt,” the Director says, I begin to think he is about to tell me I didn’t get it, “We all said you worked your a** off. Your voice is simply amazing; actually, it is ineffable; same for your acting.” He now turns to Will, “Will, you were also outstanding!”
The room is quiet; the acoustics cannot pick up a single sound.
“Matt,” he says, my heart is racing and palms are sweating, “We decided that… You will play Tony in the 2012 revival of West Side Story! Congrats!”
My Heart leaps in joy! “Thank you! Thank you so much!”
Katrina runs up to the stage and says “See, I told you.”
I look to Will; he is standing with a blank face. Then he runs off. That was the last I ever saw of him.
Next thing I know, a pool of light fills a circle around me. In the blink of an eye, my dreams came true. I am finally, a star.