The Show MUST Go On — Continuing Story. CHAPTER THREE.
November 28, 2018
Last month, at the end of the chapter, Sir had dragged a bedraggled shirt onstage causing Starr, Starla, and Ms. Starborn to wonder if the culprit might still be in the Wardrobe Room.
… The three of them raced to the room where all the costumes were kept.
Ms. Starborn’s hands flew to her mouth. “The costumes are GONE!” …
CHAPTER THREE — STEALING THE SHOW?
Usually the room was filled with costumes crowding the rolling racks, shoes and boots lined up or stored in boxes, hats on tables. Chests of drawers held other bits and pieces. Screens stood at the ready to shield actors as they changed or were fitted into a new costume. Today, Ms. Starborn wandered around, her steps echoing in the nearly-empty room, picking up a dropped glove, running her hand over the hangers that had, until today, held the costumes intended for the next production. The cast hadn’t even seen them yet.
She tossed the glove on an empty worktable. “Not much we can do with one glove and a bedraggled shirt.” She slumped into a chair.
Starla put her hand on her director’s shoulder and tried to encourage her. “I guess we’ll have to get more costumes.”
Ms. Starborn shook her head. “I scoured all the thrift shops for miles around several times over the past few months, finding all those costumes. Not only do we not have time to do that again, I’ve spent our wardrobe budget, as well. You kids know as well as I do that we’re operating on a shoestring. Sometimes that shoestring feels like an old, frayed one that’s about to snap any day.”
“Maybe we can make costumes?” Starr said, looking around as thought she expected fabric to magically appear.
“Out of what? And when?” Ms. Starborn sighed. “Someone has snatched any hope of having a costumed production from us, apparently right under our noses.”
Starla said, “Someone or something…”
Starr glared at her. “You keep saying that. It isn’t very comforting.”
“You think I’m trying to be comforting? I’m scared to bits!” Starla stomped away, and started opening drawers and looking behind dressing screens, hoping to find some sort of clue.
Matt came into the room. “Nothing wrong with the lighting board or the fuse box. Someone wanted the theatre to go dark.”
Starr said, “That’s not the usual meaning of that phrase! But it sure works. I wonder if they took anything else? I’m going to look around.” He hurried out of the room.
Ms. Starborn said, “This has made this a dark day, for sure. Let’s just hope that we don’t have to go dark permanently.”
Starr rushed back in. “Some of the stage props are gone, too! A couple of chairs, some lamps. Nothing big.”
Ms. Starborn put her hands over her mouth. “Props, too? Someone seems determined to steal the show!”
“They sure do,” said Starr, slumping into a chair next to Ms. Starborn.
From across the room where she was still checking every nook and cranny, Starla said, “We won’t let them! You said they had only taken a few of the props. So we just need to make sure they don’t take anything else. Some how. Anyway, they just took stuff that was easy to carry, right? Ghosts probably can’t lift anything very heavy.”
Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, Starr said, “Why do you think it’s ghosts?”
“Lots of theatres have ghosts, right, Ms. Starborn?” Starla came closer.
Nodding, Ms. Starborn said, “You’re right, Starla. Many theatres are said to have ghosts. I’ve even heard stories about this house. But… ghosts stealing the show?”
Starr tried to sound confident. “Ghosts wouldn’t need to take all the stuff. If they wanted to put on their own production, they could use everything right here, at night, and no one would ever know.”
“Now who’s not helping?” Starla said, narrowing her eyes as she glared at Starr.
He opened his mouth to speak, but was stopped mid-word when they heard a clunk followed by another yowl from either Lady or Sir.
“That was upstairs,” Ms. Starborn said, her voice shaking.
“We’d better check it out,” Starla said, trying to sound brave, but not quite succeeding.
“Or call the police,” Starr said.
Matt said, “Let’s check it out. Could be just a loose shutter or something.”
“If it is, that shutter certainly has a good sense of timing,” Ms. Starborn said, with a wry smile.
“Come on!” Starla said. “Before they get away!”
Starr made a tsk noise. “How are they going to get away? They’re up there while we’re down here between the stairs and the door.”
Starla led the way out of the Wardrobe Room. Matt ducked into the Prop Shop for a moment, and came out brandishing a sword.
Ms. Starborn laughed. “A prop sword isn’t going to do much damage. It collapses on itself if you stab someone with it.”
“They’ll be scared by the look of it. I don’t expect to use it.” He pulled a flashlight from his pocket and flicked it on. “I don’t want to turn on the lights and alert them that we’re coming. Now, be quiet.” They tiptoed behind Matt up to the second floor. All they saw there was Sir standing with one paw on the next flight of narrow, steep stairs. Behind him, Lady was poised to pounce. At another sound above them, both cats yowled.
“It’s coming from the attic,” Ms. Starborn whispered. “No one ever goes up there.”
“Someone’s up there now,” Starla whispered back.
Ms. Starborn countered, “Maybe it’s a mouse. Like in The Great American Mousical.”
“Pretty big mouse to make that much noise and to need full-size costumes. Let’s go up there and see.” Starla headed up the stairs. Sir crept up them ahead of her, ready to attack whatever they found.
They all joined Starla at the top of the stairs. Starla pushed open the wooden door slowly, expecting it to creak and announce their presence. It opened smoothly, without a sound. They peered in to the cavernous space.
Starr spoke for them all.
To be continued Wednesday, January 30, 2019
(rather than posting during the holidays)
Theatre going or being dark: During the run of a performance, actors have one day off during each week. On that day, the theatre is said to be dark. It might be called a Dark Day. If a theatre closes either temporarily or permanently, the term “dark” might also be used.
Stealing the show: This is a term that’s used in theatre when, for some reason, all the attention of the audience goes to one actor, usually a secondary actor, instead of to the main actors. Obviously in this story, Ms. Starborn is using it in a different way.
Prop Shop: This is, as you might have guessed, the room or department where props are stored and/or created.
Theatre ghosts: As I’ve mentioned while explaining the Ghost Light, and the various superstitions of the theatre, many people claim they have seen ghosts in theatres.
Timing: In acting, this refers to having a good sense of when to say a line or make a reaction to someone else’s line, in reference to conveying the meaning of the words, the overall sound and effect of the play, and the audience’s reaction as well.
Prop swords (and other things that seem real, but aren’t): Often the props that are used in theatre look just like the real thing, and from the audience you wonder how actors can survive being stabbed, or having a bottle broken over their head, or falling out a window — it’s part of the magic of the stage, you tell yourself. Actually, it’s because the props are created so that they look real, but they don’t inflict harm. In this case, the sword collapses in on itself, as Ms. Starborn said.
The Great American Mousical: This is a book for kids aged 9 to 12, about mice who live deep in the sub-basement of a Broadway theatre, and who put on their own productions in an architect’s model of the theatre. The book is written by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton. I highly recommend it. You can read my blog post about it here.