There was a tradition. Every time we had a matinee and a night performance in the same day we always sent one person out to get dinner and (because today was Fat Friday) dessert.
It just made things easier.
I had only just finished taking my make-up off and getting changed when I realized I had forgotten to tell Jeremy, one of the chore dancers, that if we were getting Krispey Krème’s, I wanted to change my order from one original glazed Donut to a Jam Filled one.
I had seen Paul eating one last Friday and wanted to try one.
Quickly slipping on my shoes I dashed down the hallway towards the stage door, hoping to catch Jeremy before he left.
Opening the door I looked around, only to find he had already left, but there were three people waiting, huddled together against the cold, all chatting excitedly.
As soon as they saw me, they smiled, “Sharon!”
“Hey! The girls from the front row!” I said, recognizing them instantly.
“Told you she saw us!” said the Brunette in the purple turning to her friends with a smug smile.
“Ok, you were right!” said the Red Head in the green dress.
I smiled as I realized something: they were Australian. Their accents sounded comfortingly familiar to me, after being in America so long I had almost forgotten what Australian’s sounded like.
The only other people who sounded like me were Paul, Vince and Emma. I was beginning to think we were the only Australians in New York. It was nice to know I was mistaken.
They immediately approached me; I noticed the blond in the gold dress had an old looking camera, which she currently had pointed at myself and the brunette in the purple dress.
The red head in the green dress hung back, seeming shy.
“You were wonderful tonight!” said the brunette, a wide smile on her face, the same one that had been there when she was watching the play.
“Thank you!” I smiled.
It was strange seeing the girl up close. I noticed now that she had one blue eye, and one brown. It gave her eyes a strange depth as if she was really seeing what was in front of her.
“Can I have your autograph?” she asked happily, showing her Love Never Dies program.
“Of course!” I agreed, taking the booklet and pen from her.
It was so humbling to have people who looked up to you and that doing something as simple as signing a program could make someone so extremely happy. And I had the impulse to make this girl happy.
Their seemed to be a deep-rooted sadness in her that she had to constantly over-come, that her happiness meant so much more, like she didn’t take being happy for granted.
“What’s your name?” I asked as I poised the pen over the picture.
“I’m Abby” she smiled, “these are my friends Cass” she pointed to the blond who grinned as she continued to point the camera, “And Bonnie” she said pointing to the red head, who smiled timidly.
“Nice to meet you all” I smiled, signing her book, I handed it back to her.
“Do you think you could sign this as well?” she asked timidly.
Looking down, I saw she had a copy of the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ program, for the tour I had done in Australia so many years ago. I couldn’t believe she had one! It had been so long ago!
I was absolutely delighted not only that she had seen that production as well, but that she had remembered I was in it and had been so thoughtful as to bring the program, “Of course!” I smiled as I took it from her.
She beamed with happiness.
“I haven’t seen one of these in ages!” I marvelled as I signed the book.
“You were amazing as Columbia” she smiled.
“Thank you!” I smiled as I handed the book back to her, “So what are you all doing in New York?” I asked curiously.
“We’re here to see the sites” said Cass glancing up from her Camera briefly to smile at me before she went back to staring through it.
I frowned at her for a second, trying to figure out if she was taking a photo or shooting a video with the strange contraption.
“And of course do the Broadway Big’s” smiled Abby.
Turning to her I smiled, “What plays have you seen?”
“Ah” she said turning to her friends for a moment seeming lost, “We saw the Lion King on Sunday and Wicked on Monday”
“Jersey Boys on Tuesday” grinned Cass, I did not mistake the youthful flirtatious glint that came into her eye as she glanced at her friends before turning back to the camera.
“Les Miserables on Wednesday” said Bonnie quietly, “as well as Chicago and Mamma Mia on Thursday”
“And Phantom of the Opera last night” smiled Abby.
“What play are you seeing tonight?” I asked, assuming that they would be seeing another play as they had every other night.
“Oh nothing” shrugged Cass, “We decided to take a night off, spend the night in our hotel room playing scrabble”
“Only so much theatre we can take” said Bonnie.
Abby scoffed, “Speak for yourselves”
“Tomorrow we’re going to see the Statue of Liberty” said Bonnie lightly.
“Then go and see the Annie Revival with Anthony Warlow” said Abby happily.
I couldn’t help but smile back, for such young girls they seemed to have an innate amount of class about them. Most girls their age would have been in New York to party or look for love. It seemed three of them were more interested in Theatre, quality theatre at that- they had not chosen Movie Musicals like Ghost or Dirty Dancing. Or ones that involved celebrities- like How To Succeed in Business.
They were about the art and spending time with each other. And I couldn’t help but respect them for that.
“You’re the second one that has come out” said Abby suddenly, “will anyone else be coming out?” she asked hopefully.
“No” I said through my teeth, instantly regretful that I didn’t have better news for her, “Not many of us come out in between shows” I explained.
“I understand” she nodded, “You must be exhausted with all the dance numbers”
I smiled, I was tired but no more than usual after a show, but she spoke as if she had experienced it and I wondered if that had been the spark I saw in her, “Are you a dancer?”
Something flashed across her face; a deep sadness flickered behind her eyes and I instantly regretted my question, even though she continued to smile, it seemed sad.
“Not anymore” she said simply.
I grimaced in sympathy, instantly wondering what had happened to someone so young that they had to give up on their dream like that. As it was so obvious that it was her dream.
“Anyway” she said, flicking her hair out of her beautiful eyes, “I wanted to get Sierra to sign my ‘Little Mermaid’ program” she said, showing another booklet she had with her, “Do you think if I left it for here she would and I could pick it up tomorrow?” she asked, hope rising in her eyes to replace the sadness.
Glancing down at the book I couldn’t help but smile. If Sierra was anything like me, she would want to meet the girl who had a copy of a program from a play she had been in years ago. And she too had noticed Abby in the front row- I was positive in my plan of action.
“Well why don’t you all come inside and we can get her to sign it now?” I offered, jabbing my thumb over my shoulder towards the stage door.
I watched as her face changed completely, it was as if everything drained from it and all that was left was a blank expression. But her eyes had gone extremely wide- filled with a kind of excited light that made me instantly smile.
“Really?” she asked, “Y-You’d let us come inside?” she stammered in disbelief.
I laughed, “Yeah, if you want”
Turning back to her friends, she still seemed to be in a state of shock.
Bonnie seemed hesitant, biting her lip slightly I could see she was unsure. But Cass, who was still pointing the strange camera as us smiled brightly, nodding her head ever so slightly.
Turning back to me, a smile so beautiful lit up her face, that beautiful, brilliant and happy smile that once again made me smile infectiously.
“Come on” I said turning to the stage door, I pulled it open and waved the three girls inside.
It wasn’t forbidden or anything to have people backstage. But it wasn’t technically allowed. I was breaking a few rules but I didn’t care. The trouble I could possibly get in paled in seeing that bright smile. Or more, I didn’t think I would get caught- we were all good friends in the company and I knew most would over look my minor indiscretion.
We had done it for others in the past. Ramin’s friends coming back-stage. Sierra’s family. They weren’t technically allowed but we had all looked the other way.
All my friends were in the cast and all of my family were in a different country. These three girls would be the closest thing I would have brought to friends or family backstage.
Besides, they wouldn’t be backstage for long. What would be the worst that could happen?
Water. Lots of Water. I could never get enough after a show. And it was the best feeling- sticking one of my various drink bottles between my lips and guzzling down a litre or two before taking off my make-up and costumes.
Then once that was done, sitting back and drinking some more while I turned on my portable DVD player that I kept in my dressing room and tried to relax in-between shows.
I knew Jeremy would be back soon with my Lemon Citrus Tart and everyone else’s sweets, which is when the entire company would meet in the Green Room and hang-out before getting ready for the next show.
Having removed most of my make-up and changed back into my jeans, I grabbed another water bottle and turned on my DVD Player, sticking in the next disc of television series I was currently watching ‘Modern Family’
Oh water. Not too hot. Not too cold. Room Temperature. Just Right. God, I felt like Goldie-Locks just thinking that!
But it was so nice in-between shows to just switch off my brain and watch a mindless television show and re-hydrate myself. I knew that I really should drink more during the show so that I didn’t get so parched by the end.
But I always got so caught up in the story that I forgot to drink sometimes…most of the time… all of the time…
“Sierra” called a familiar voice as she tapped quietly on my door, “Can I come in?”
“Sure Sharon!” I called as I took another swing from my water bottle.
The door clicked open and she pushed her head inside, smiling brightly. I wondered why she didn’t immediately come in, “I’ve got some people here that want to meet you. Is that alright?” she asked.
That was odd. We never really brought anyone backstage- we weren’t allowed. Except for friends and family. But as far as I knew, Sharon didn’t have any friends or family in New York, so I was immediately curious as to who she had with her.
“Of course” I smiled, shutting my DVD Player.
Smiling gratefully she opened the door and stepped in, filing in behind her were three girls, all of them looked to be in their late teens, early twenties maybe.
It only took me a moment to realize who they were, “Hey, aren’t you the girls from the front row?” I asked as I stood up to greet them.
The one in the brunette in the purple dress turned to her companion, the red-head in the green dress and hit her shoulder playfully.
“Ow!” complained the Red-Head, “Yeah that’s us” she smiled as she rubbed her shoulder theatrically.
“Sierra” said Sharon, “This is Bonnie” she gestured to the Red-Head who smiled awkwardly as if she didn’t really want to be there.
“Cass” she gestured to a blond who I hadn’t noticed before but was standing towards the back of the room holding what looked to be a very old video camera- she seemed detached from everything that was going on, preferring to sit back and capture it than actually be a part of it.
“And Abby” she said, smiling at the Brunette.
“Hello” she happily, seeming to almost bounce on her heels in excitement.
“Well Hi” I laughed, the Brunette, Abby, had such an infectious smile and seemed to be so happy just to be in my dressing room that I couldn’t help but be happy, “What can I do for you?” I asked.
“Ah, I have a Little Mermaid program here” said Abby, holding up a book I had failed to see she had been holding, but when I registered that it was indeed the familiar cover of The Little Mermaid Program I was shocked, I hadn’t seen one of them in ages.
“I was wondering if you could sign it?” she asked timidly.
“Of course!” I smiled.
Smiling back she handed me the program and a pen, “I saw you perform and you were amazing in it! That was the first time I ever saw you perform” she smiled, I detected an Aussie accent and immediately wondered if Sharon knew them, “Tonight was the second”
I smiled at the fond memories; The Little Mermaid had been my Broadway Debut. It held a special place in my heart. I was oddly touched that this girl had seen it and remembered me from it. The production was no longer running so the fact that she had remembered me from the one performance she had seen was doubly impressive.
“I’m amazed you remembered me from it” I said as I signed the book.
“How could I forget?” she contradicted, “I mean, you still look like a Disney Princess” she smiled happily.
“Thank you!” I laughed, “Did you enjoy the show tonight?” I asked curiously as I handed her back the book.
“Yeah it was amazing!” she gushed, hugging the book to her chest protectively, “We loved it” she said looking to her friends, all of whom had stayed relatively quiet, “I’ve always wanted to ask you though, which character do you like more? Christine or Ariel?” she asked.
I pursed my lips thoughtfully, “That’s a tough one”
“Well the fact that you get to kiss two gorgeous guys as Christine has to be a bonus” said Cass from the back of the room.
“Yeah but in the other she gets to be a Mermaid!” said Abby pointedly, “I don’t know about you but I’d love to be part Sushi”
I laughed loudly.