The Show MUST Go On — Continuing Story. Chapter ONE
September 26, 2018
Before the story starts, I want to give a bit of background.
From September 2018 to June 2019, on the last Wednesday of the month, I will post one brief chapter of a continuing story I will be writing throughout the year called THE SHOW MUST GO ON. Set at no less than the Starborn Revue Theatre itself, it will feature a stellar cast including
Starr and Starla, twelve-year-olds who have been a part of the Starborn Revue Theatre’s kids’ program since they were seven years old. They’re represented here by artists’ wooden mannequins. I assure you that their acting isn’t wooden at all! Some kids at their school think it’s weird for a boy and girl to be best friends, as Starr and Starla have been since kindergarten, but the two of them don’t care what others think. Well, they mostly don’t care. They absolutely love being involved in theatre. Starla’s specialty is serious dramatic roles, while Starr is a budding song-and-dance man. They’re looking forward to doing a star turn in this story.
Lady and Sir, the Revue’s theatre cats. They fulfill many roles in the Starborn Revue Theatre, lending their paws wherever they are needed, and they will definitely have more than mere walk-on roles in this story.
Ms. Starborn, the leader of the Revue’s kids’ program (and everything else). She is portrayed in the story in a totally fictional manner — unlike her real life, which only sometimes seems like fiction.
Many other characters will make guest appearances, have cameo roles, or even ongoing parts.
On the last Wednesday of each month, a chapter will be posted as a regular blog post. There will be a glossary of theatre terms for each chapter, which will be posted below the chapter.
Now, the stage door is opening for the first chapter of THE SHOW MUST GO ON!
CHAPTER ONE — GHOST LIGHT OFF
Starla pulled open the heavy stage door, took one step into the theatre and stopped.
Starr thudded into her. “Starla! Move!”
Starla didn’t respond.
Starr pushed past her, letting the door slam behind him.
Starla wailed, “What did you do that for?”
“Why? Whoa! It’s dark as night in here!” He hit the light switch. Nothing happened. “What’s with the lights?”
“Don’t ask me,” Starla said. “Just open the door again. Then at least we’ll get some light from outside.”
The door wouldn’t budge.
“This is creepy,” Starla said, rubbing her arms as if she was cold. “And it’s so quiet. Where’s the stage doorman?” She looked around, although that didn’t help because she couldn’t see a thing. “Hey Matt! Where are you?”
“What’s going on? Matt’s always here.” Starla’s voice caught in her throat. “We’re trapped.”
“We can’t be trapped,” Starr said, trying to sound more certain than he felt. “The door’s just stuck. And the power wasn’t out anywhere else on the way over here. We’d have noticed. It’s probably a blown fuse. This theatre is getting pretty old. I’ll go see if I can find the fuse box. That’ll be where Matt is.”
He took a few steps and thudded into Starla again. “Sure wish I had a flashlight. Memo to self: always carry a flashlight. Oh wait! Duh. My phone!” He turned on the flashlight app. “That helps.”
Starla said, “I’ll go see if Ms. Starborn is onstage.”
“Turn on the light on your phone.”
“Can’t. My phone died. I haven’t had a chance to recharge it. I was busy studying…” she lowered her voice to a whisper. “Lady Macbeth!”
“Don’t say that!” Starr shrieked. He shone his phone light toward the door. “You know what you have to do.”
Fueled by desperation, Starla shoved against the large metal door with all her might, and stumbled outside as it opened. She dashed into the alley, letting the door close behind her. She spun around three times, spat on the ground, shuddered in disgust, said a quick curse under her breath, then ran back to knock on the door. When Starr shoved it open, she said, “I did them all. We should be okay, right?”
“I sure hope so. I’ve never seen a theatre curse in action, but you’ve done everything you can. Besides, it’s just a silly superstition, right?”
“SHHHHH! Don’t say that!” Starla quickly spun around and spat again, just in case.
“Okay, okay, forget I said anything. Now we need to find Matt, and Ms. Starborn, and get the lights turned back on before the other kids get here. Bring on Theatre Class and stardom!”
“I’m with you on that.” They high-fived then went back into the theatre.
The door shut behind them with a clang, plunging them into darkness. At the same moment, an unearthly yowl echoed through the building.
Starla screamed, then covered her mouth. “What was that?”
“I don’t know, but it came from the direction of the stage.”
Squaring her shoulders and pretending she wasn’t just scared out of her wits, Starla said, “I’ll go find out what it was.”
“Are you sure? I could come with you…”
“You need to find Matt. And you need to find the fuse box! I’ll be okay.” I hope. She didn’t say the last two words out loud.
Starla headed through the darkness toward the stage. Starr held up his phone and walked the opposite direction in search of the fuse box, or Matt, or Ms. Starborn, or with any luck, all three. Before he found any of them, he heard another yowl and a CRASH!
Phone light held high, he ran toward the stage. Starla was climbing out of the orchestra pit. “Are you okay?” he called.
“I have a few dents in me to match the ones I gave the music stand I landed on, but I think I’ll live. It was pitch black in here. The ghost light wasn’t even on.”
There was another yowl.
She continued, “And look at that!”
The ghost light lay on the stage, its bulb shattered. Lady, the pure white longhaired theatre cat, stood on the stage, yowling. Sir, the theatre cat who always wore a pristine tuxedo, stood next to her, staring past the broken ghost light, his back arched, his mouth drawn back in a long, loud hiss.
There was no one there that Starr or Starla could see.
From behind them, the wobbling beam of a flashlight panned over the scene. Ms. Starborn cried, “What on earth is going on in here?”
To be continued on Wednesday, October 31…
Stage door: The stage door is often on the side or the back of the theatre, and is the door performers go through, rather than entering from the main doors that the audience uses. In some theatres, including The Starborn Revue theatre, there is a stage doorman who greets performers, makes sure everyone knows where to go, and is the one who opens the theatre and locks up after everyone else has gone.
Theatre superstitions: Theatre people have many superstitions. One of them states that it is forbidden to utter the name of Shakespeare’s play Macbeth in a theatre. It is always referred to as The Scottish Play, if it has to be referred to at all. As you saw from all that Starla went through, theatre people have developed rituals that are used to counter the results of accidentally saying the name. Here’s a link to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s explanation of the superstition.
Orchestra pit: For a musical, the orchestra is often situated between the stage and the audience, at a slightly lower level, thus it is called the pit.
Ghost light: Another theatre tradition, this one having both superstitious and practical roots, is the ghost light — a light on a pole that is moved to centre stage and left on through the night, both to ward off any theatre ghosts that might be lurking, and to make sure people entering the theatre can see where they are going. Since the ghost light was broken, Starla fell into the orchestra pit.