“I can do this,” I thought to myself as I waited backstage for the show to begin. My heart was racing, my face was turning slightly red and I had a thousand butterflies in my stomach. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and released. As I slowly opened up my eyes, “I can do this.” I thought to myself again.
Hearing the chatter of the audience made me want to start the show right away, I could feel the butterflies multiply as we got closer and closer to show time. I peeked through the small hole in the curtain of the tiny window and looked down at the oversold crowd. A smile creped onto my face and I went back to my natural color. I spent the last few moments fixing my hair and wardrobe making sure I wasn’t exposing anything I shouldn’t be and making sure my hair was where it needed to be.
The lights suddenly dimmed and the stage was lite with red white and blue lights making it kind of dimmed and grunge looking itself.
“Show time.” My friend, John, had said.
It suddenly became hotter than it was before and the butterflies became stronger. And our director, Sondra, made her introduction “Welcome and thank you all for coming to the Act Too Players performance of Rent.”
She talked about where the restrooms were located and where to get concessions and the appropriate times to get them. Everyone got tickled when she said “Please silence all cell phones and cellular devices. During the performance please no flash photography, texting, or sexting.”
“Sexting.” John repeated as he chuckled.
“Now sit back, relax, and the Act Too Players edition of RENT!” And with that the audience cheered and we began to take our places. I climbed through the window and down the two steps and on to the top of the scaffold. I made my way stage left and on to the metal part of the scaffold and I held onto the bar. Taking small breaths to relax myself I looked out into the oversold crowd and at the lights intensely.
The butterflies were still there and my face went back to its original color again. I was no longer Morgan, I was my character.
I looked at the two guys who were playing Mark and Roger and the guy who was playing Mark began, “We begin on Christmas Eve, with me Mark, and my roommate Roger. We live in an industrial loft on the corner of the street of Avenue B which was once a music publishing factory.”
As they exchanged dialogue the calmer and more excited I became. Then the guy who was playing Roger had his guitar solo and suddenly “The power blows” says the character Mark. Everyone except for them laid down where they were as they sang the song Rent.
“How do you document real life when real life’s getting more like fiction each day? Headlines, bread-lines, blow my mind and now this deadline, eviction or pay rent” Mark sang.
“How do you write a song when the chords sound wrong though they once sounded right and rare? When the notes are sour where is the power you had once to ignite the air?” the character Roger sang.
“And we’re hungry and frozen.”
“Some life that we’ve chosen.”
“How we gonna pay? How we gonna pay? How we gonna pay last year’s rent?” They both sang.
“We light candles.” Mark said and everyone else got up and lite the candles onstage and we wadded up paper that was all over the place and tossed it into the trashcan that was center stage.
By the time the chorus came around again we all sang “How we gonna pay? How we gonna pay? How we gonna pay last year’s rent?” And during the instrumental part we all made our way down the scaffold and scattered all around the stage and as they were singing we slowly formed a line at the edge of the stage.
“Maureen? Your equipment work? Okay! Alright! I’ll go!” Mark said into the phone and sang with half of the company “How do you leave the past behind when it keeps finding ways to get to your heart? It reaches way down deep. It tears you inside out till your torn apart. Rent!”
“How can you connect in an age where strangers, landlords, lovers, your own blood cells betray?” Roger and the other half of the company sang.
“What binds the fabric together when the raging shifting wind of change keeps ripping away?” We all sang.
“Draw a line in the sand and then make a stand.” The guy playing Benny sang.
“Use your camera to spar!” Roger said
“Use your guitar!” Mark said.
Then we all joined in, “When they act tough, you call their bluff.”
“We’re not gonna pay.” The two leads sang.
“We’re not gonna pay.” Half of us joined in
“We’re not gonna pay.” The rest of sang and started moving around stage singing, “Last year’s rent. This year’s rent. Next year’s rent.”
“Rent, rent, rent, rent, rent!” We all sang as we jumped up and down stomping our feet and looked dead straight into the audience and sang, “We’re not gonna pay rent.”
“Cause everything is rent!” Mark and Roger finished.
After that I felt like I was alone with everyone else on stage, the audience began invisible, as if they weren’t even there. In that moment in time, I was able to let go and not hold back, everything felt magical and I was proud of myself for not letting anything hold me back from doing what I love, performing.