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April stood at the edge of the stage, gazing over the empty, red velvet seats of the auditorium. Her last show on this stage would be tonight, her last show on any stage would be tonight. She stood there for a while, recalling the events that transpired the night before when she lay in her bedroom, surrounded by meticulously organized playbills on all her walls and the news that her parents could no longer afford to let her continue doing the only thing that kept her going. Performing. Whether it was on a grand stage with a crowd of one hundred or one her bathroom floor as she got ready for her day, April never felt happier than when she was singing her heart out through the lyrics of a song or through the voice of a character. But, her parents refused to accept it. As immigrants from the Dominican Republic, her parents wanted April to have a steady career that her and her family could depend on, unlike them at the beginning of their careers. “A life on stage does not guarantee a stable livelihood,” they would say. April knew that they did it for her own good, and she lingered off the stage content with the fact that she’d get to perform for a crowd one last time.
It was 6:54, six minutes before the curtain would open, and April was more nervous than ever. The mix of fear and excitement was running through her blood, boiling, and ready to burst out. She peeked out into the audience, hoping to get a view of the crowd. Expecting one of her bigger turnouts, the excitement she built up before looking out served as a disappointment when what she saw in front of her was no more than a couple passerby’s. By then, it was two minutes until show time, and April was blowing a gasket. There was no way an actual crowd would stroll on into the theatre in a matter of minutes, but as they say in the theatre, the show must go on.
“Get set in your places!”
That was her cue. Taking a deep breath, April stood by the stone fountain that was placed center stage. Slowly, the curtain began to open. April quickly composed herself, getting into character. Let the performance begin!
The first act was going exactly as blocked. Juan was performing his scene with Paloma, where Tom, the main protagonist, discovers the most disturbing news. It was all escalating so fast, then suddenly the stage went quiet. Juan had forgotten his line. Wide eyed, his eyes stared at Paloma’s, screaming in desperation as sweat trickled down his forehead. In a matter of seconds, the performance began to fall apart.
“I just can’t believe what you are telling me!” Tom ad libbed, hoping that the conversation would continue, and that Juan would soon remember his line. Juan, of course, attempted, “Yeah, it’s so…uh,” in hearing his struggle, April also added on, “I’m so sorry that you had to find out this way Tom.” Silence continued to fill the air and Juan continued to stutter his way through the scene. Still, Tom and April led Juan in the right direction. Thankfully, he began remembering his lines and the scene ran smoothly once again. Julie then walked in from stage left, arriving at the dinner table where she was supposed to sit down in the old, brown dining room chair. As she made a move to grab the chair, it fell apart and shattered into thousands of pieces. Bewildered, April helped Julie gather the broken pieces, trying to keep the scene moving as she improvised more lines. Just when they thought it couldn’t get any worse, the entire back wall of the set they spent weeks on collapsed. Scanning the audience, April grew worried. Everything they had rehearsed seemed useless now.
The audience gasped in awe. April watched as spectators began to rise off their seats and exit the theatre with a look of hopelessness and pity. Soon more people began to follow.
Without warning, April broke into tears, screaming as streams of water ran down her face. She was willing to do anything to get the audience’s attention. If that meant bawling her eyes out, then so be it. The audience members making their way out of the auditorium quickly turned around to see what all the commotion was about. April had made up an entirely new scene. “Oh Tom! I just didn’t know what to do and we were all just worried how you would react!” For a while, April’s character seemed to be the only one alive, being that she left her cast members in a state of confusion. However, soon her colleagues joined in, morphing themselves into the scene. Julie, now caught up to the action of the scene, began to wail alongside April. Juan embraced Paloma and Tom stood with a constant despaired look that emphasized the disturbance of the news he was receiving.
At this point, there was no direction to the story whatsoever. It was absolutely random. At one point, Tom and Juan began to cry as well, the dining room table was purposely broken in two, and the actors on stage engaged in such a realistic argument that the entire house was sitting on the edge of their seats.
Coming to a final, and unexpected close, the curtains were drawn, and the audience was left astonished by the one-of-a-kind performance they witnessed.
After bows, the cast ran to the lobby cheering, as they were so relieved and satisfied with their spontaneous performance. All of the sudden, April was taken aside by a tall, lean man in a black suit whom she hadn’t noticed before, even with her many glances of the vacillating audience. He spoke with her in private as her friends waited in anticipation. His voice was calming and filled with excitement, unlike the first impression on his appearance. “Your work tonight and the way you kept the audience seated really caught the eye of all of our partners at Teen Year Broadway Intensive. It’s what we look for as we travel the world looking for young talent as yourself. If you desire, and with your parents’ permission, we would like to invite you to work with us. Of course, you would have to move to New York, and undergo a real Broadway work schedule along with shows and continuing school…” April couldn’t believe what she was hearing, especially when the tall, lean man explained that her parents would not have to worry about paying any amount of money for the first two years of her contract. She especially could not believe when the information she was being told was validated through extensive research done not only by her, but by her friends who celebrated the joyous news with her.
Although her piece proved to be an absolute disaster, it also proved to be a new beginning for young April. Even her parents grew to support her and began to accept the idea of her dream of a life on stage, saying that, “Maybe a life on stage can guarantee a stable livelihood, and if it doesn’t, we are so proud of you for doing what you love.” April grew content knowing that, even if it was her last time performing on this stage, it wouldn’t be her last time performing, and this time everyone around her encouraged her dream.