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Fear in Theater
“Auditions are on Tuesday, October 17th! Hope you can all make it,” said the Drama director.
Anthony was ecstatic he could audition to perform in Davenport Theater, which was right next to Broadway. He pictured himself singing with the ensemble on a large stage in front of at least 500 people, with Lin-Manuel Miranda sitting in the front row.
October 17th rolled around quickly. Once again, his fantasy of singing with an ensemble in front of over 500 people took over his thoughts. During his classes he could barely think of anything else.
“Ok, who’s next?” the director asked the huge group of people auditioning.
Anthony stepped on the stage. He had decided to sing the first music number that he had performed in drama program. He sang the opening number to 35MM. The second that he started singing, his director had a big smile on her face because she knew exactly what he was performing. He walked off the stage, more confident than ever.
The following day was the slowest day of Anthony’s life. Every hour he opened his inbox, hoping to get the cast list. He was so nervous that he wouldn’t be able to perform on Broadway. At 10pm, just when he was going to give up and go to sleep, Anthony checked his inbox one final time. He practically screamed in excitement. He carefully scrolled through the email hoping to find his name. After a bit of searching, he found his name in the ensemble. He had made it! He was going on Broadway!
That Saturday was probably the fastest Anthony had ever woken up before. He was ready for his first rehearsal for this amazing show. He knew the next 5 hours were going to be taken up by music, singing and dancing. While normally he would be dreading the exhaustion that he would feel at the end of rehearsal, this time he was ecstatic because this was being performed on Broadway!
He remembered how amazing the show had been when he had first seen it. Too bad he hadn’t remembered any lyrics to any songs. While he may not have remembered any lyrics, Anthony managed to pick up the choreography quickly. Next thing he knew, it was already 1pm.
A week before School of Rock, Anthony was stressed about remembering all of his lines. If he said something from the wrong show, he’d be humiliated in front of nearly 200 people. The pressure was really on him.
“OK, tomorrow night is the show. Make sure you’re well rested and be sure that you’re ready to go by 6 so you can do your lobby job.” said the Drama Director.
Anthony was ready. He even made sure to go to sleep an hour early just so he’d be full of energy tomorrow for the big day. Through all of his classes, Anthony couldn’t stop thinking about the show he was gonna act in tonight. His teacher in his last block of the day even let Anthony out a few minutes early just because they knew he had to get ready for the show.
Before he knew it, Anthony had 5 minutes until showtime. The panic was so much. His director always tol
d him “if you’re not nervous, then you’re doing something wrong.” If anything, it made Anthony panic MORE.
The clock hit 7. Anthony, along with the cast, walked inside the auditorium for the longest hour of his life. Anthony did the few scenes he did in the first act. He channeled his inner dad on stage so he acted like an actual dad. Once he was done for the act, he had to sit backstage for what seemed like a long 30 minutes. After that whole hour, the cast went to their rooms for intermission.
“Wow, that was some first act am I right?” Anthony asked his group of Theater friends.
“Yeah, but the second act is so much more emotional.” replied Charlie.
“Don’t mess up any lines Anthony!” said Parker jokingly.
That’s right, Anthony still had lines to remember. This second act was the most important part, because of all the emotion in the show. Having remembered this, Anthony’s fear came back. He knew that if he messed up a line, it would ruin everything in the show. Before he knew it, intermission was over.
“This is the real Dewey Finn!” yelled one of the characters.
Anthony was supposed to say “What the hell is going on?!”, but instead of that, he said something far worse.
“What the f*** is going on?!” he yelled.
He’d messed up BAD. There were strict rules on what swears or rude terms could be used. Unfortunately he couldn’t just run out of the auditorium because he had to be on stage for this song. He had to live with the mistake he made.
Throughout the entire show, that mistake was all that was on Anthony’s mind. He knew that after the show was over, his director or someone important would crucify him for this. After he did his bows and received congratulations from all of his family members, Anthony went to the backstage classroom and when he opened the door, he saw his director standing in the room, as if she was expecting him.
“Anthony, what you did up there was embarrassing to the entire cast, and it made the entire audience feel awkward.”
“Look, I never meant to. I don’t know what happened. I promise it won’t happen again.”
Anthony sat in the closest corner so he could just be by himself. After a couple minutes of being alone, someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around and saw his friends Parker and Charlie.
“Dude, you gonna be OK?”
“I feel like the cast will hate me for that mistake.”
“Dude, everybody will forgive you. It was just a mistake. Everyone’s probably gonna forget by tomorrow.” Parker said.
“Yeah, I guess. Alright, I think i’ll be OK. Thanks guys.”
Anthony’s friends were right. By the next show, nobody remembered what had happened. Anthony managed to get his line correct in the evening show. Had he messed up, he would’ve messed up in front of the PRODUCERS of the broadway show!
But Anthony still had a show to perform in NYC on December 12th. He knew he had to work his hardest, and push himself even further. While the theater can only hold about 120 people, he knew that was still 120 strangers to perform in front of.
The next week, Anthony was in his usual routine. It was Thursday morning that he heard his teacher read something from the morning announcements that caught his attention.
“Auditions for the winter musical, Gilligan’s Island, are today from 3-5:30pm.”
Anthony practically jumped out of his seat. Well this was unfortunate. He now had to choose to juggle two shows again, or skip out on such a fun sounding production.
In the end, he decided to go for it. After all, the NYC show was in a week. Still, he was afraid that he’d have to memorize all of the songs from Gilligan’s Island while rehearsing for the NYC show. Anthony did his audition, singing the same song he had from School of Rock because he couldn’t think of anything else.
Anthony was just as ecstatic to get this cast list as he was to get the School of Rock one. Only this time he had the chance to be the first to perform this show before the Broadway people. He quickly scrolled for his name and saw his name under ensemble. He was a little upset that he didn’t get a bigger part, but he wouldn’t let that get him down. He was ecstatic for this show since they were setting an example for future schools. It was a huge responsibility for him and his cast members.
Anthony showed up to the first rehearsal, and the Director wanted to talk to him backstage. Anthony had a bad feeling about this conversation, because he’s positive that the Director remembered his huge mistake from the last show.
“Listen, Michael. You’re one of the best people I’ve ever had in my program. But what you did up there in the last show could’ve costed us a lot. Mr. Orpen told us that swearing was forbidden to a certain degree, and what you did could’ve gotten us in huge trouble. If you mess up like that in this show, you won’t be able to do another show. Sorry, but we can’t risk it.”
Anthony certainly would remember this conversation. The amount of pressure is undescribable. He went on through the rehearsals, each day the conversation ingrained in his brain more than the last. The day was now December 11th. Anthony had to go to sleep at 7pm because he had to wake up at 3am and leave for the bus station by 4. While trying to sleep, he kept imagining every possible way he could mess up the show. He then kept thinking about that conversation on the first rehearsal. He eventually slept, but not until 9pm.
After struggling to get out of bed and stay awake on the car ride to the bus station, Anthony managed to get on the bus. On the 4 hour bus ride, he was absolutely terrified. There were presumably going to be famous people in the audience.
When Anthony got to the theater, his mind went blank. He was full of questions like “Why is the audience so small?” and “Why is the stage smaller than ours?” Anthony was confused. All this time he was under the impression that he’d be performing on a big stage in front of hundreds of people, but now it seems that he’s performing on a small stage in front of 80 people. This made him feel a little better, but he was still scared of making a huge mistake in front of an audience, regardless of the size.
Before he knew it, there were 10 minutes before the show. The pressure was mentally crushing him. The last words of that conversation running through his brain on a constant repeat, “If you mess up like that in this show, you won’t be able to do another show.” It was time to go in.
Throughout his multiple music numbers in the first act, he made sure he was careful. He kept the lyrics he learned over the past month in mind, making extra sure he didn’t accidentally say something wrong. It was a good thing that most of the first act, he was just sitting on the stage reacting with facial expressions.
“Managed to survive the first act.” said a sarcastic Anthony.
“You’re lucky that you’re not in that many songs next act. Less songs to stress about.” replied Parker.
This was true. Anthony was only in 3 songs next act. If he could get through these three songs, he’d have his chance to do Gilligan’s Island again. He walked on stage, ready for this act. He was going to make it the best show anyone had ever seen.
He was in one song at the beginning of the act, which meant until the end of the show, he didn’t have to do anything. But he knew that these last two songs were the most important ones. After a long waiting time backstage, he heard his cue. He walked on with the cast, making sure to stay in character.
Everything was fine so far. They were all doing what they were supposed to do, which mainly consisted of making it look like you’re dancing in some way. The song was almost finished when suddenly someone stepped on Anthony’s foot. At this time he was wearing sandals as part of his costume, so that person’s shoe landed right on his foot.
“Oh fff-” Anthony said.
He hoped to god that nobody in the audience heard him. Although he did get a look from a couple of people on stage, so that might be bad after the show. Anthony went through the rest of the show without any mistakes, but now he was scared and had a hurt foot, which wasn’t how he wanted to end this show. After the finale, and after the cast did their bows, one of Anthony’s friends walked to him with some sort of grin on their face.
“Dude, was that you who almost dropped the f-bomb on stage?”
“Yeah… the director didn’t notice, right?!”
“Doesn’t seem like it, but that was too close for comfort dude.”
Anthony was so relieved to hear that. All that pressure of messing up was finally off his shoulders. Although there’s a question that will hang above Anthony’s head for quite a while, “Will I mess up in the next show?” Well, whether he does or doesn’t, he’ll put on quite a show either way.