Teaser 265: It’s Show Time, Ladies and Gentlemen

It was almost six in the evening when we wrapped. To another restaurant we all went and this night I established a strict curfew which was midnight. “There's no legitimate reason for you to be out after midnight. We have a professional show to stage tomorrow so tonight you're going to behave like you are a professional entertainer. Be back at the hotel before midnight.” Everyone was. In fact there were only a small number who did go out later and all were back by eleven. I went around to all the rooms for a bed check, which produced some negative comments, but at breakfast the next morning, which included most, I thanked everyone and expressed loudly how pleased they all made me with their professional response. “After tonight, you're not an amateur any more. You will have been up on stage and will receive compensation for it. This makes you an entertainment pro, ladies and gentlemen.” It brought a round of applause.

Mid-afternoon our convoy left the hotel for the theater and we parked all the vehicles near the back entrance. Four from the theater met us and asked how everyone was doing. Are you nervous? “We'll be fine. There will surely be mistakes made but we've all learned how to cover for everyone else. No one will know. We're off to the restaurant down the street. When we return we'll run tests on everything to ensure all the equipment is in proper working order and we'll start as promptly at seven as possible.”

Most ate a light meal at the restaurant and many were obviously nervous. “When we're ready to begin, all anyone has to do is be in their costumes, except for Bruno and Klaus-”

“We're wearing the togas, Al,” Bruno interrupted and I saw Klaus nod his head.

“Good. Thank you. As I was saying, be in costume, engineers and camera people, be at your stations, and everyone be on the stage in plenty of time and be at your places when we start. Be quiet and Duck and Cover, my mates and I, will start the show. Jan and Rebekka have been here before. Look to them for help and encouragement. They will certainly help you. Once we get through our first three songs your nerves will be gone. You'll be completely into it. If you suddenly draw a brain freeze,” and I paused for laughter to subside, “whisper to the person closest to you and should it be you, whisper back when you can. Help each other and things will be all right. Remember what I said to all the Maenads. If you find yourself out of action with all the other Maenads, smile wildly and keep dancing, like you're in a spell. You'll be fine. No one will know and all of us here will ignore it like it's what we planned, and, in truth, it is exactly how we've planned it. If you have a brain freeze, keep your body moving. No one will ever know. As for those of you singing lead, we have practiced forgetting lyrics. That's why everyone has a backup except me. If I mess up I'll mumble. Hey, this is rock and roll, not the Vienna Orchestra. If you stumble on your lyrics let your backup step in while you try to get them back. If, for some reason, you can't, remember your fallback, you have others in your group performing actions on stage and fall into that. Again, it will look like the plan. No one will know...” I gazed around at the faces of our company, some still quite anxious. “I'll tell you what got me through our first gig together. We had all practiced a lot so I was comfortable with my parts, but being up on stage in front of a paying audience can create a lot of anxiety. I gritted my teeth, adopted a 'don't screw with me' demeanor as I looked out at the audience, because I was there to blow them away, not the other way around. If you try to consciously adopt that demeanor, the 'don't mess with me' attitude, your nerves will diminish, because we will blow them away.”

Testing every item of equipment took a little over an hour. Everyone in the horn section wailed away, loosening their lips as part of their normal routine. Still in street clothes the Maenads and the chorus worked on last minute questions or issues, nothing serious. Sirani and the crews all took some breaks, staggered so there was always someone from the production watching our equipment, while everyone else went back stage to get ready. It was very crowded, since there were only two relatively small dressing rooms. There were some other rooms for other purposes and we took command of those, too. There were two guards stationed back stage to watch over our belongings and keep anyone out not part of the company. Believe it or not there were some who managed to get back there but all were promptly escorted to the lobby. Before we all began to walk to the stage, I stepped into an unused rest room and prayed to the One. Reciting the Fattiha helped to steady me. We were all ready and walked to the stage together. Everyone got to their places and I checked with Bruno for the time. “Two minutes to seven, Al.”

“Tell me when it's seven.”

“Will do.”

- Just Desserts, Segment Thirty-TwoStage of Mania” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

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