French Kissing

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38. Dress rehearsal

"It’ll be all right on the night."

Everyone kept saying this, but Marcy had her doubts. The dress rehearsal was turning into an unmitigated disaster. Whether from nerves or whatever else, people forgot their lines, came on from the wrong sides or didn’t come on at all.

Some of the costumes got mixed up and lost, and the Hot Box girls messed up all their moves and Betty nearly sprained an ankle when someone fell into her and knocked her over. Martin managed to trip up and bring down a piece of scenery with him, which had to be urgently repaired.

Marcy was surprised at how calm Len seemed throughout. He took everything in his stride.

Alan, the stage manager, also seemed to take the damage to his set quite calmly. He just fixed it all up and they were good to go again.

Mrs Helberg had just a touch of the diva about her that evening, fretting about "the critics". If Variety and the New York Times were sending reviewers she couldn’t have been more stressed.

She tried not to back-seat direct, but couldn’t help herself a few times, berating a couple of the men who had stood in the wrong place and blocked her own route across the stage.

Revel in contrast was completely laid back, enjoying the chaos even. While Marcy was run off her feet trying to soothe nerves and egos and fetch and carry a million things that had got lost, Revel took it all in her stride.

"It’s going to be a success whatever happens," she said. "Either it will be okay and people will love it, or it will be such a disaster that they’ll flock to see it for the comedy value."

Everyone looked amazing in their costumes, even Mrs Helberg, though she didn’t exactly look like a young ingénue. Marcy’s favourite scenes were the dancing ones because Betty and the other ladies were such fun to watch. And as ever, Marcy felt a tear in her eye when Thaddeus sang his sweet ballad.

When it was over there was a mixed sense of relief and anxiety.

Len tried to soothe the actors’ nerves. "Everything that went wrong tonight is something you’ve all done perfectly countless times before. You can do it, and on opening night everything will be fine."

Marcy was just so glad she didn’t have to get up there and face an audience. She hugely admired the others for being able to do so but she would have died of nerves.

After the dress rehearsal everyone went for a cast meal at a restaurant in town. Of course it would be the pizza place opposite the bar, and of course Minette McCarroll would be working that night.

"Hi Marcy," she said, with false friendliness. "Can I take your order?"

Minette’s gimlet eye would mean that Marcy would have to be really careful talking with Gray. Even if nothing was officially happening now, a spiteful rumour could still cause a heap of woe.

She was sitting just across from him, which hopefully looked less incriminating than if they had sat next to each other. Also she hadn’t thought she could sit through a meal, with his thigh pressed against hers on the bench, trying to deny the attraction.

"So Brittanny tells me you’re all in some theatre group," Minette said. "These must be your theatre friends." She managed to say the words with a kind of patronising, spiteful emphasis.

Marcy tried to ignore her, and Revel spoke instead. "That’s right. I think you know Mr Grayson from school though, right?"

Minette looked a little embarrassed. "Hi Mr Grayson."

"Hello Minette." His cool, green eyed glance gave nothing away. If Minette was planning an evening of spying and sneaking, she wasn’t going to get any material here.

Len took the lead in ordering food for everyone, since Mrs Helberg was still a little overwhelmed and unusually subdued from the exertion of the dress rehearsal. Marcy felt a little sympathy for her. It was Mrs Helberg’s big thing, the Springdale Players, and she had a lot of personal pride invested in it being a success. Not to mention she had to carry the performance, being in the lead role.

Although she had found Mrs Helberg very bumptious and overbearing to begin with, Marcy had come to like her more and more over the course of the rehearsals.

Revel also admired her. "She’s very committed. You have to appreciate how much she puts into all this, even if she drives you mad at times."

"So what’s next for you after Springdale High then?" Gray asked Revel. The four "young people" of the cast - Marcy, Revel, Gray and Martin - were grouped together on one end of a long table. "Broadway?"

Revel grinned. "Maybe. I want to go to Juilliard so we’ll see what happens."

Gray already knew what Marcy had planned so didn’t need to ask her about it. But Martin spoke: "Revel tells me you’re writing a play, Marcy. Is it something we could perform in future?"

Marcy blushed. "It’s not a musical, so probably not. It may take ages to finish."

"It could always be scored though," Revel said. "I mean you could have a musical version of it as well."

Marcy wasn’t sure if it would work.

"It did for Oklahoma," Revel said. "And Hello, Dolly. And West Side Story, if you consider it was based on Romeo and Juliet, though I guess that is a pretty different treatment."

Maybe in five hundred years someone would turn Marcy’s play into the next Sound of Music, but right now she couldn’t really see it.

Marcy had been keeping Addy updated on the whole saga with her and Gray. Addy viewed it as a kind of real life soap opera.

"So what’s the next episode in the Gray and Marcy reality show? Has he given in to his feelings yet again?" she asked Marcy as they Skyped later that night.

"No, nothing’s happening. We’re just doing the friends thing still as it really was too much risk otherwise." Marcy told Addy about Minette.

"Yeah, I guess there are eyes everywhere in Springdale. Nothing gets to stay secret," Addy said.

Marcy told her about the disastrous dress rehearsal. Addy drank it all in avidly.

"I’m now desperate to see it. I can’t imagine anything more fun than you and Revel prancing about and knocking over the scenery in front of half of the town."

"I’m not actually in it," Marcy reminded her. "Though if Martin does bring down the set again I guess everyone backstage is going to get their turn in the spotlight."

"Of course my main reason for seeing it is that I’m desperate to see your Mr Grayson. To see if he’s actually as hot as his photos."

He’s hotter, Marcy thought. Way, way hotter.

"There’s no chance you could fly down?" she asked.

"I’m tempted. So, so tempted. But what with school and trying to save up for Christmas, so we can have a blast when you visit, it’s probably not going to be possible."

The thought of seeing Addy in just a few more weeks lifted Marcy’s spirits. She had missed her so much, and even though Skype was great there were certain things that you really wanted to talk about person-to-person.

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