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Hearts Pound This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Outside, the murmur of the crowd. Somewhere on the other side of the curtain, the low hum of voices, people mingling, program pages rustling.

Backstage, the nervous energy of the performers. Tension is high. Kids stretching, doing splits, flipping in midair. Applying blush and eyeliner and crimping eyelashes. Pulling skin-colored stockings on. Singing their do-re-mi's. Going over lines in their head and praying to the performance gods that they don't freeze onstage.

For a week they've gathered in this theater and practiced, sometimes for six hours. The lighting has been perfected. The blocking has been adjusted. Lines have been given and taken away, kids fired, and costumes cobbled together. But tech week is over now. This is the fruit.

Months of practice. Hundreds of hours. All for one weekend. All for today.

Backstage, excitement mounts as the seconds tick away. “House is open!” the director shouts; “Thank you, House!” the performers respond automatically, and their hearts flutter inside their chests. It's time. It's finally happening. There is a real audience out there, right now, sitting in those velvet seats. Not just ­parents. Real, paying customers. It is opening night.

“Where'd my leotard go?”

“Oh no, my voice just cracked!”

“Shh, guys; the house is open!”

Each line, each movement, each harmony is seared into their brains. Countless reprimands from the dance captain, dozens of ear-splitting rehearsals with the band, numerous screaming tirades from the frazzled director, clumps of hair torn from the vocal coach's head. Not an easy road. But this is the one they've chosen.

They may be young, but this is their world, their song and dance. Thespians. A life of nerve-wracking auditions, tear-stained rejections, night-long practices, adrenaline-rushed performances. Applause. Cheers. Roses. Bows.

“Fifteen minutes!” the director yells; “Thank you, Fifteen!” holler the performers.

Last-minute panic. Are the props backstage? Did I smudge my makeup? Is it a full house? Oh,
tell me we're sold out, please; I ­remember doing “Footloose” and there were only 20 people in the audience for opening night! Hey, remember when Main Street High School came to see “Anything Goes” for a field trip? Yeah, we got no applause at all; that night was a bummer!

But for all the grumbles and complaints, would these actors rather be anywhere else? Absolutely not. Not for all the money in the world.

“Places!” the director shrills. “Thank you, Places!” cry the performers.

They fall into single file and step onto the stage.

Only a velvet curtain now separates them from their audience.

Their hearts pound.

The lights dim.

And the curtain slowly rises.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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PotsnPans said...
today at 11:31 pm:
absoloutely perfect. 
 
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