Friday came all too quickly. In a way, I was looking forward to being in our one and only performance of The Little Mermaid, but in another way, I knew that as soon as we exited the stage that night, summer camp would be over for the year. I was enjoying this long anticipated camp and did not want it to end. However, no matter what my personal feelings were, I could not stop Friday from coming. It was spent in a flutter of excitement pertaining to the final results of our hard practice, nervousness about doing well, and dreading leaving the Warehouse for at least the rest of the summer.
Mr. Kevin and Mrs. Jana had given us all Cue 52 t-shirts a couple of days before and on Thursday, Mr. Kevin had taken pictures of individual cast members wearing them. On Friday morning, his ingenious plan was revealed. He had arranged all of those photos, along with our respective names, to play on a video at the beginning of the play on two giant screens up to the left and right of the stage. The sailor’s song “Fathoms Below,” from Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid was to be playing in the background, much to our delight. The climbing melody along with the baritone chorus in that song filled me with excitement. As Kera, Mr. Kevin, and I stood watching this magnificent production, Kera crossed her arms, smiled satisfactorily, and declared that “Fathoms Below” was her favorite song from The Little Mermaid. I believe her reason was that it was not as fluffy as the princesses’ songs. Somehow, “Fathoms Below” fit us pirates perfectly.
This show was very technologically savvy, thanks to Mr. Kevin and his amazing crew of volunteers. On Friday morning, we had tech rehearsals and the whole cast got to see the full set for the first time. It was awesome. The show was to be performed with most of the lights off because of the black light effect that they were using. Black light does not pick up dark colors very well, but it illuminates lighter shades, such as white, and makes them shine blue. Between the normal lights being off and the black light, I could almost believe that we were underwater. Mrs. Jana made this even more realistic by using black light paint on some of the sets. This made them glow, creating a brilliant contrast between the dark room and the cheerful stage. Since we were the narrators, the spotlight was going to be used on the platform that Kera and I were to use, but a lot of the show would be done with just enough light to see by. Even under these conditions, I do not remember anyone falling off stage. As an actor, it is an important responsibility to memorize blocking and to know the stage you are working on like the back of your hand.
One hiccup did occur in rehearsals. Because I had been cast both as the pirate narrator and as a singer in the ensemble of “Part of your World,” I had to make a really quick costume change between some lines and said song. Luckily, the costume for “Part of your World” was not extremely elaborate or difficult. In fact, it was a simple white choir robe. However, the process of going backstage, taking off my pirate bandana, making sure the entirety of my pirate costume was hidden, and rushing back onstage all in about a minute could be tricky. We practiced in costume on Friday and the first time was a definite failure, but just on my part. One of the cast members was kind enough to let me borrow a pair of boots, being that I did not have any pirate boots to use. The problem was that I did not have enough time to get a feel for them before we started rehearsal. When the time for the costume change arrived, I was in a rush. Kera and a couple other girls helped me get into the choir robe quickly and then I zipped onstage. I was walking to the group of girls next to the microphone when suddenly my feet slid out from under me. Wham! I fell straight to the ground and landed on my back. I had misjudged the slipperiness of the stage and those slick-bottomed boots had scooted across the floor, causing me to fall. Everyone immediately turned around from their graceful singing with faces of surprise, alarm, and concern. After a moment, I recovered. I stood up quickly, laughing, and told them that I was fine. I shakily walked up to the microphone for my solo, but for some odd reason, I could not stop laughing. In my mind, the whole affair had been comical. I tried to catch my breath, but then I would start laughing again while trying to sing my lines. Someone stopped the music a couple of seconds later and suggested a redo. Mr. Kevin walked to the stage and told me that I should not have to kill myself to get in position for that song. He generously gave me a few more seconds, which significantly helped me and prevented that accident from happening again in the future.
Mrs. Jen unfortunately could not watch the final performance because she had other appointments. She received a warm, regretful farewell right before practice ended. I personally hated to see her leave. She had an awesome personality and had equally awesome advice for us. Before she left, Mrs. Jen gave us all a copy of her CD. She was a musician at heart and her band had recorded a Christian bluegrass album. I gained new respect for her at this time. Though bluegrass is not usually my favorite genre, it was a wonderful thing to share the story of Jesus’ love with us through music.
In addition to the importance of our show, today was also special because it was a fellow cast member’s eleventh birthday. Lindsey, who I had met earlier in the week and was also in “Part of your World,” turned eleven that day. Her mother was kind enough to bring us all cupcakes, which I participated in. Also, since it was the last day, I got a coffee that morning. It was a delicious mocha latte with cream on top. However, the downside was that I had forgotten that I had also eaten a chocolate pop tart for breakfast. (And no, I do not usually eat that much junk food in one day, thank you very much. That was a mistake which I shall not repeat). As you are probably guessing by now, when our rehearsals finished at either 3:00 or 5:00, I was feeling sick. Actually, I don’t think I was super nauseous, but I remember a terrible headache that had formed between all of that sugar and caffeine. My family went to Cracker Barrel to eat before the play, but I was not in the greatest of moods to eat. I did start feeling a little better, though, and by the time we got back to Cue 52, I was almost back to normal.
Kera came in rocking awesome eyeliner that looked like Captain Jack Sparrow’s make up in Pirates of the Caribbean. She was totally in character and was ready for the performance. She even brought a machete, hoping to use it as a prop. Mr. Kevin and I thought it would be epic, so we rushed to tell Mrs. Jana about it. The second we opened the door to see Mrs. Jana, she took one look at the grins plastered on our faces along with the machete in Kera’s hands and immediately shook her head.
“No,” she said. “That is not a good idea, especially since Brooke has fallen so often today.” After a few persistent pleas on Mr. Kevin’s part, we finally accepted defeat and trudged to the auditorium. Mrs. Jana did allow us to use our pocket knives as props, so we did. We had decided early on that my character had one bad leg, so I had brought my walking stick and I pretended to carve on it whenever I was not talking in the play.
It was also decided that Kera and I would commence our roles at the beginning of the play by staggering through one pair of doors of the auditorium that were not being used and then walking through the audience. This sounded like fun to me and Kera, as we would have an opportunity to acknowledge the audience and call them “land lubbers.” I do not think I will ever forget standing in those doors, watching all of the people filling the auditorium from another entrance and wondering if the show would ever begin. I began to feel a nervous pinching in my stomach, but as had been the case in the play at Lee County High School, excitement would prevail over fear once more. Kera was anxious, too, and we both paced as well as we could in the space we were confined to. By the time the show started, we were beginning to resemble tigers in a cage.
Just before we were about to burst with anticipation, it was time to perform. Kera and I both staggered through the crowd as we had planned, making our grand entrance. I don’t think anyone watching expected that, except for the directors, of course. As soon as we had run our initial lines, we both sat down on the two stools on our platform and watched the opening video “Fathoms Below.” That song started the night on the right note. It captured every thought of hope, mystery, and energy that being in a show never fails to bring. The performance went well; Kera and I only forgot one line, which was easily solved by improv and passed by. It was a short play and unfortunately, it was over before I had hardly realized it had begun. After our curtain call and bows during a reprise of “Under the Sea,” we all went to the auditorium and to the coffee shop outside to greet our audience. I gave Maddie her boots back and Kera’s belt that I had borrowed, but other than that, the pirate costume I had used was mine, so I did not worry about changing clothes before leaving.
We all took pictures in character in the auditorium. I have an extra special picture of Kera, Maggie, and I still in costume. The play could not be filmed very successfully because of the black light, so those pictures are almost all of the proof I have of our performance besides my memory and these internet pages.
Farewells were made regretfully, especially to the directors. I remember the dreaded moment that I told Mr. Kevin that I was leaving. He smiled, told me that Kera and I had done an awesome job, and then asked if I would be back to see them in the fall. To my surprise, I actually sniffed back some tears; it took me a moment to gain enough composure to reply. When I could speak, I told him that I would try. Summer camp had by far exceeded every one of my expectations and I could hardly wait to act again.
As Johnny Depp once stated, actors get attached to their characters. They become a part of you and they never leave, no matter how hard you try. Marcy was one of those special characters that I knew I would miss, but at the same time I knew that she would always be there with me. But possibly even more than that, I would miss Kera, Mrs. Jana, Mrs. Jen, Mr. Kevin, and all of the cast members that had become almost extended family in the short span of five days. All of the sudden, it seemed like autumn was ages away and summer would last forever. But of course, it didn’t.