The Show MUST Go On — Continuing Story. CHAPTER FOUR.

March 27, 2019

I must apologize for the long delay since the last chapter of this story was posted. A computer crash and other problems interfered with my blogging schedule. All is well now, and we’re ready to go back to the Starborn Theatre and find out what’s happening with Starr, Starla, and the fictitious Ms. Starborn.

When we were last at the theatre, Starr, Starla, and Ms. Starborn had followed Sir, one of the Theatre Cats, up the stairs to a vast attic room in pursuit of whoever stole the theatre’s costumes. When they arrived at the top of the stairs, the room was empty.

CHAPTER FOUR — EXITS AND ENTRANCES

“Where has everything gone? They can’t have hidden everything that quickly.”

Sir raced across the room and began pawing at the wall, seeming to try to get through it. When they followed him, they realized he was sliding his paw under a tiny gap at the bottom of the wall.

Starla said, “My cat, Midget, does that when I’m in the bathroom. She always pokes her paws under the door, trying to get into the room.”

“Door?” Starr said. “Could that mean that there’s a hidden door here?”

Starla and Starr began to tap the wall above where Sir was scratching. Starr thudded one spot with the heel of his hand, and with a swish, a doorway opened in what had looked like a flat wall.

Ms. Starborn covered her mouth with her hands. “I don’t believe this! It’s like a secret passageway.”

Starla corrected her. “It IS a secret passageway. What’s beside the theatre?”

Ms. Starborn paused to think. “We’re facing east, right? There’s another house next to us here. In fact, it was included in the sale of the theatre building, but I’ve never done anything with it. I haven’t had the money.”

“So it’s just sitting here, vacant?” Starla asked.

Starr shook his head. “It may be sitting here, but it’s sure not vacant. Someone must be here. Someone who stole our costumes. And while we’re standing here, they’re getting away!”

“You’re right. How do we get into the house next door, Ms. Starborn?”

“I have the keys down in my office, but it’s nearly time for rehearsal to start. There isn’t time to go downstairs and get them…”

Sir brushed against Starla’s leg, and disappeared into the darkness ahead of them. Starla said, “Sir obviously thinks we should go after them. Maybe we can at least find some of the costumes.”

Ms. Starborn said, “No! It could be dangerous.”

Starr brandished his prop sword. “I’ll scare them off with this. Come on.”

Ms. Starborn hung back, but Starr and Starla followed Sir into the darkness. They soon thudded up against a flat surface. “There’s another door.” Starr thudded his hand against it in the way he had the corresponding door on the theatre side of the short passage. It opened onto a cavernous space that mirrored the one they had just left.

“There’s no one here!” Starla said.

“But look!” Starr said. “There are some of our costumes, dumped on the floor. The person must have dumped them and ran off.” He scooped up some of the clothing. “We can at least take some of them back before rehearsal time.”

With all three of them working, they were able to retrieve most of the costumes, even with Sir twining through their legs at every step. Ms. Starborn said, “We really need to get down to the theatre for the rehearsal. Everyone will wonder where we’ve disappeared to. We’ll have to just dump the costumes here for now. There’s no time to take them back to Wardrobe and hang them up.”

Starla couldn’t keep her mind on the rehearsal. She missed several of her cues, and forgot a whole section of her monologue, which she’d had word-perfect at the last rehearsal. She went upstage when she was supposed to be downstage, and downstage when she was supposed to be up. She was standing upstage, trying to figure out how to make it look as though she was supposed to be there, when Ms. Starborn clapped her hands sharply to stop the play.

Ms. Starborn said, “Starla! Please try to keep your mind on the play. You should have been downstage at that moment.”

“Sorry, Ms. Starborn.” Starla tried to concentrate, but for the first time in her life, she had no interest in what was happening onstage.

The moment the rehearsal was over, and Ms. Starborn was busy with a class of older kids, Starla whispered to Starr. “I’m going back up there. We have to find out who is trying to ruin our show.”

“I’m with you.” They sneaked away, hoping no one would follow them. No one did – no one except Sir. He seemed as intent on solving the mystery as they did.

Only a few costumes were left of the mounds they had dumped on the attic floor before rehearsal. “They’re sure determined,” Starr said. He thumped on the wall and opened the door to the passageway between the two buildings. “Here we go again.”

This time the passageway wasn’t as dark as before. The door on the other side was partially open. Sir squeezed through the opening. Starr and Starla were about to follow him when the door slammed shut and they heard an unmistakable click-thunk as a deadbolt lock slammed into place.

“They’ve locked it!” Starla exclaimed.

“They can’t have,” Starr said. He thumped all over the panel, but it was no use. The door would not open. “We have to give up for now. After Ms. Starborn has finished with the older kids, maybe she can open the downstairs door with her key.”

“But Sir is in there! We have to rescue him!” Starla ran back into the theatre building and clattered down the stairs.

To be continued Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Glossary

Exits and Entrances: The meaning of these terms is fairly obvious. When a character in a play is to go onstage or offstage, the stage direction in the script indicates [Starla exits, stage right] or [Starr enters, stage left].

Cues: During a play, an actor relies on his or her memory to know when to speak or perform an action. They watch for signals that their turn is coming: a line of dialogue that is spoken just before theirs, a particular action done by someone else, or even the stage manager giving them a reminder, if they are offstage, waiting to go on. These signals, whether spoken or visual, are known as cues. If you miss your cue, you might either come in too early, and speak over someone’s dialogue, or leave someone waiting and wondering what to do when you don’t appear or you don’t say your line on time. Lighting, sound, and scenic cues are also important to the tech crew.

Monologue: A monologue is a long speech spoken by one actor without interruption by others. A famous one is a monologue spoken by Hamlet in Shakespeare’s play. That monologue begins with the words “To be, or not to be: that is the question…”

Upstage and downstage: Upstage refers to the part of the stage farthest from the audience. Downstage is the part of the stage closest to the audience. There was a time when stages were often “raked” – that is, the back of the stage was higher than the front, to make it easier for audiences to see. On such stages, upstage was literally UP, and downstage was literally DOWN. While modern stages might still be raked, the angle is not as steep as it was in the past. To “upstage” someone originally referred to an actor standing further upstage than he or she was supposed to, so that the other actors had to turn their backs on the audience to pay attention to him, and all the focus was turned on him. It has come to mean any way that an actor draws the audience’s attention away from the other actors.