The warmth of the spotlight hit my face. There I was center stage frantically yelling “Auntie Em! Auntie Em where are you?”. I ran around getting tossed and tumbled by the actors wearing dark clothing and flailing about like a tornado. “Auntie Em! I’m lost! Please find me! Please!” I yelled louder as the scene sped up and the dramatic music started to reach its climax. Finally, there was a loud “CRASH” followed by a blackout on the stage and I collapsed to the floor.
This scene may seem a bit chaotic to you. But it had been rehearsed countless times, and boiled down to a science of who was where and when they were there. The amount of times I had to yell “Auntie Em!” was quite large and my vocal chords had been feeling it all throughout the final week of rehearsals.
Being the lead in a show had been my dream for years and I finally had gotten there. During the blackout after the opening “cyclone scene”, lying on the stage floor in front of the audience, it finally hit me that this was the first show with a full audience. This was it. My first show as a lead. A lot of people were counting on me to get it right and not screw up. I was determined not to.
The first act went smoothly. Meeting the scarecrow, tinman, and lion and dancing with all of them. It wasn’t until we had gotten to Oz were we hit a snag. One of the guardsman had forgotten all his lines. He was an important role in the storyline of this show. He explained all the things about “The Great and Powerful Oz”. It was the cue for his line and all we heard was silence. And a moment of silence on the stage feels like hours when you know there was supposed to be something there.
I felt my body tense up when I realized what had happened and had some quick exchanged glances with others in the cast. We all realized what we had to do. Maddie, another gate keeper for Oz, jumped right on in improvising lines to get the story to the audience. The lion, tinman, scarecrow, and I all jumped in to and improvised a whole 8 minute scene, with little to no pauses! We were thrilled!
I sang the number before the curtains closed for intermission and ran off stage to thank Maddie who had saved the scene. Having others to have your back and know when to step in is a great help when you’re putting on a production. I have since hoped to pursue improv more since that incident.