Then, to finalize the look, I added a beanie hat and aviator sunglasses that I had gotten in a discount sale. Now, the image looking back at me was that of an actress; an artist.
I dreaded going to Beauty and The Beast rehearsal this afternoon; hearing Liam’s voice command me from some dark corner of the auditorium. All I wanted was to go to Gatsby rehearsal and stay there forever.
I left twenty minutes earlier than I needed to, resolving to walk slowly and take my time. I had the script tucked under my arm and my headphones connected to my cell phone. In my excitement and need for distraction, I video-called Sarah as I walked.
“Amy?” Her face popped up on the screen, although it was blurry and dark. “What’s the matter?”
“That’s great, but uh, time change?” she said, settling back on her pillows. “You couldn’t have called me on your lunch break?”
“By lunch I’ll be either awesome or dead on the floor,” I said, looking up briefly to make sure I knew where I was going. She sighed, and then smiled, propping herself up more.
“So? Have you memorized your lines?”
“Yeah. All four of them,” I said, looking both ways and then crossing the street. “But I mean…It’s not the number of lines you have, it’s the number of scenes you’re in. And I’m in a lot. In the background, but still.”
Sarah laughed quietly, and then reached over to her nightstand to get some water.
“I’m sure you’ll be great. They cast you, didn’t they? So it’s not like they don’t know how talented you are. Man, I can’t believe this is happening to you, I’m so jealous.”
“Don’t be,” I said. “Because as soon as I get in good and make connections, I’ll slip your name in.”
“Sweet,” Sarah grinned. “Hey, what about the ballerina? Porsche? Did they take her, so at least you’ll know someone there?”
“Uh…” I looked up to narrowly miss a lamp post. “If they did, I don’t know about it. Dancers are usually separate anyway.”
“He said…” I averted my eyes, looking elsewhere. “I don’t know. It doesn’t matter anymore, does it?”
“I miss…having someone to talk to. I mean, you’re a million miles away and I can’t always just whisper something to you. And with Liam, everything felt so comfortable, like we could read each other’s minds. They call it chemistry in this industry.”
“And what else do you miss?” Sarah quirked an eyebrow at me, and I rolled my eyes.
“Shut up,” I said, and she laughed.
“Look, Amy, I’m exhausted. Call me if you have a nervous breakdown, hopefully on your lunch break.”
I nodded. I was only a few feet from the studio now and my excitement was building.
I opened the door to the rehearsal building, trying to calm myself. I was breathing like I had just run a marathon and my heart was racing a million miles a minute. With shaky hands, I reached into my purse, pulling out a water bottle and taking a sip. Finally, I ducked into the washroom, redoing my hair and applying lip gloss. When I was only 5 minutes early, I emerged, heading to the huge rehearsal hall where I could hear voices talking.
I was stunned by the amount of people crowded into it. They were separated into two groups and one of them was clearly more confident than the other. I quickly realized that the less confidant group was probably the one I belonged to, full of extras and crowd fillers. In the middle of the room, however, was what caught my eye. Belonging to neither group, the dancers flexed and stretched into impossible positions. They were the most gorgeous of the two groups, their bodies lean and toned and their faces glowing as they moved. In the center of the room, I recognized the two guys from the audition, although their names escaped me. To my delight, Porsche was there as well, watching as one of them helped another girl with a twist. She stepped forward, giving advice and demonstrating with her own twist, which was flawless.
Not knowing anyone else, I stepped forward.
"Hi," I said, when there was a break in movement. Porsche turned, smiling at me.
"Good. I didn't know you were going to be here."
"First rehearsal, everyone is, and then we separate later. Your stuff goes over there," she pointed to a corner where about a hundred bags and coats were gathered and I realized everyone was unburdened. Sheepishly, I nodded.
"Sure. What are...what are you guys for? Are you like extra talented parts of the crowd?" I asked and she smiled, with a shrug.
"Kind of. Gatsby is an extravagant man who throws lots of parties where performers entertain his guests. It'll be the first time it's done this way - part musical, part ballet. Makes the show a hell of a lot longer, but apparently better."
Shannon came into the room, accompanied by her own entourage. Silence followed and I was aware that I was the only one making noise as I scrambled to my stuff away.
She gave me a look, and I nearly dropped my bag, hustling over to the group of crowd fillers. Finally, when I was standing quietly, she spoke.
"Let's go from top to bottom and see what we come up with. No interruptions. Divide yourselves up."
Those were the only instructions she gave. Everyone seemed to be scrambling, knowing what to do. I looked around in confusion, and then reached out to grab Porsche as she went past. She winced on instinct, pulling her wrist back instantly. My eyes widened.
"I'm sorry, are you hurt? I just didn't know what to do, where do I go? How can we run the show when it's first rehearsal?"
She took my hand, pulling me to the other side of the room.
"This is the way Shannon works. You run it in first rehearsal, do what feels right, and then she'll base it off what your character does," she hissed at me, reaching down to pull up her sleeve. To my horror, I saw it was raw where I grabbed it.
"Porsche, are you getting ..." I trailed off. Lesions were an advanced sign of AIDS, and there was no way she could be that sick already.
"No. I slipped during a step, that's all," she pulled her thin sleeve down with a shrug. She didn't seem concerned, and I let it go, remembering that even if she was, it didn't matter. Liam would give her immortality.
Bitterly, I turned my attention back to rehearsal. I had no idea how I was supposed to proceed. My character only had 4 lines in the show, and all of them seemed to make her a fan-girl of Gatsby. I played them over and over again in my head as I watched the scene go by. The first crowd scene, and my first line, was in the second scene. I decided that if my character were a fan girl of Gatsby, then she would always try to be close to him.
When the scene changed, I fixed my eyes on Gatsby, who was actually incredibly attractive. With dark hair and dark eyes that sparkled, he had natural warmth about him and a fantastic smile. It was not difficult to pretend to be obsessed with him.
"Oh, Mr. Gatsby," I said when the time came, making sure I was right beside him. He kept moving though, and so I decided to follow. "You truly are the greatest host, and your parties are soooo much fun."
"STOP!" To my horror, I heard Shannon's voice. Looking over to the table, where the panel sat, I saw her standing up, and she did not look happy.
"Amy, do you know what upstaging is?" She asked, sternly, and I nodded.
"You are a crowd filler, Amy, not the center of attention. You are a chorus girl, not a lead, so blend into the chorus. Say your line from the back and if no one, especially Gatsby hears you, then all the better."
"But..." I said, and Shannon sighed.
"Be part of the background noise. What you have to say isn't important."
My cheeks were burning as I nodded. I kept my head down, but I could feel that everyone was staring at me. I desperately wanted Shannon to start the rehearsal again. When she finally did, I breathed a sigh of relief.
My next line came after nearly half an hour. Following instructions from last time, I hid in the back. I had been excited about this line, because one of the leads would be speaking to me, over the crowd.
"Oh, Mr. Gatsby is over there. You can't miss him," I said, quietly.
"AMY!!!" Shannon's voice came again and I turned, stunned.
"Nick Caraway is asking you an important question. Nick is a lead and I can't hear a word you are saying."
"But you said..." I answered, confused. Shannon rolled her eyes.
"Amy, if you can't figure out how to build character, then perhaps you need to stay at school longer."
I heard snickers around me, and I ducked my head. Tears threatened to fill my eyes.
"Right," I muttered and Shannon sighed, sitting back down.
It seemed everything I did was wrong. I was taught to never have my back to the audience, yet Shannon screamed at me when I didn't turn properly to leave. I thought I was supposed to be Gatsby's biggest fan, but we never even crossed each other’s paths.
By the end of the rehearsal, I wanted nothing more than to collapse into a ball and cry. Everyone was glancing at me, yet no one said a word to me as I gathered my stuff. I turned to see if Porsche wanted to walk home with me, but she was deep in conversation with the other dancers.
Zipping up my coat, I headed out the door alone. My phone was blinking with several messages from Sarah, wanting to know how it went. Ignoring them, I shoved my hands into my pocket, ducking my head against the wind. The weather seemed a lot more miserable this afternoon, but perhaps that was just my attitude. I felt so lost and confused. No one else needed to be corrected in their actions. I thought I knew what I was doing, but it was clear I was well out of my depth.