‘The Story of Daniel’ Episode Six – Conclusion ‘Daniel the Freshman’ Finale


‘The Story of Daniel’

Episode Six – Conclusion

‘Daniel the Freshman’

Finale

I slept surprising well, the night before our Opening Night for ‘Sweet Charity’. I awoke, in the morning, feeling refreshed and ready for the day and the performance. I breezed through classes, and in-between classes the day seemed charged with invisible energy. I didn’t work, that day, so when I was finished with classes I went right over to the theater. I could check lights and maybe get some instruction on the make-up.

When I arrived, at the theater, Truman was there but no one else had arrived. I asked Truman about the make-up, and he walked me back to the boy’s dressing room. When he brought out the make-up he began apologizing. Not really to me, but more just in general;

“I found out, today, that all we have is grease paint make-up.”

He took out a tube that looked like a toothpaste tube on steroids. He took the top off, rubbed some on his hand and held it by my face.

“Well, you are not playing an Indian, tonight, so that is too dark!”

Followed by Truman’s deep trademark laugh.

“Let me get another.”

 

He dug around in, what appeared to be a fishing tackle box, and pulled out another steroid drugged tube. He squeezed some out on the other hand, and rubbed some on the other side of my face. I, so far, sat silent and apprehensive.

“That looks much better, turn around and look. What do you think?” Truman asks.

I turn towards the mirror, look at both cheeks, and say;

“The last one matches better, but I just don’t like the idea of wearing make-up, Truman. Is it something I have to do?”

Truman laughed under his breath, signs and says;

“Only if you want to be seen, Daniel.” …and continues

“That theater is a barn. If you don’t project, they will never hear you. If you don’t wear make-up, they will never see your face. You will have a flat face, and nobody will be able to see you act.”

Hum, OK, I hadn’t thought about it that way. I very much wanted everyone in the theater to see me, that is like the whole point… of acting… being seen!

“OK” I said. “I hadn’t really thought about it, like that, before.” Then, for some odd reason, I opened up to Truman and told him something I had never told a teacher or anyone outside my family.

“I mean, I get picked on enough, I just don’t want to get beat up for wearing make-up.”

 

There was a noticeable ‘catch’ in Truman’s breathing, yes he had heard me and understood. He just looked at me, with those huge deep eyes and said;

“Anyone that picks on you, or makes fun of you, for wearing make-up in a play is just stupid. Ignore them.”

He was right, I had heard similar from my father. Seems bullies just don’t mind being “stupid”.

Shortly after the last bell, everyone started showing up. There was great hustle and bustle, back stage, and there was an energy forming in that theater. As the afternoon wore into evening and curtain time drew closer, that energy became palatable. I wasn’t the only one that felt it, either. You could see the energy in most everyone’s eyes, and heard it in their voices. A mixture of anxiousness and glee that, I soon discovered, was intoxicating.

As people filed into the theater, I was taught some new lessons. First, never look out at the audience and be seen! That was poor form. Second, you never wish an actor before a performance “Good Luck”, it is “Good Show” or “Break-A-Leg”. Good luck resulted in bad luck. Last, and most important, be quite. When you are off stage (during a performance) you don’t make a sound. No talking, no “horse play”, this was serious business.

“Five minutes!’” We hear Truman say, back stage.

No one responds. Actually, for a second, I think everyone froze. Wherever we were, what ever we were doing, we froze. We were five minutes from the start of a show we had all worked on for months. We were in make-up (surprisingly, to some of us), in costume, we knew our lines, we knew our blocking and we knew our ques. This was no dress rehearsal; people had actually paid to see us perform. I wasn’t nervous, but my heart was sure getting loud in my chest.

I stepped outside the theater and into the hallway by the band hall. Just then Truman walked by, with the cast following him quietly.

“Follow us, Daniel.” Truman said, as he passed me. He had a smile on his face, that could have lit up the city of New York it was so bright. There was a bounce in his step, a smile on his face, and a power in his heart that (not known to me, yet) he was about to share with all of us. The entire cast was now in the band hall, and we were forming a circle holding hands. There was that darned electricity, again, it was thick with us all in the band hall. I swear I could feel my hair standing on end, like in a lightning storm. The rumbling of Truman’s voice interrupts my thoughts.

“We only have a couple of moments, but I wanted to call you all in here and share something with you.”

We were all feeling it, and small conversations broke out around the circle. Then Truman began, again;

“There is a tradition I learned, in theater. A tradition that teaches us that, tonight, we are unique. Tonight we are the best at this play in the entire world. We are unique in that no one else on the planet can do this play the way we do. And that uniqueness gives us magic. There is magic, in the theater. And the theater is magic.”

 

OK If there is a single person, in that room right then, that didn’t have goose bumps, and I would very much be surprised! We were all smiling so big, and so hard. I remember, going home later that night, my checks were so very sore. We stood in that circle, now, and repeated after Truman.

“There is magic, in the theater. And, the theater is magic!”

If we had all started lifting off the ground, at that moment, I honestly don’t think anyone would have been surprised. We, all, felt it now and a lot of us felt light headed. I know I did. We stopped chanting and threw our arms up together in one final “Magic!” Then, we orderly and quietly moved back into the theater and took our places.

“One minute, everyone, ONE MINUTE!” Truman’s voice rumbled backstage, yet not loud enough to be heard by the audience now being seated.

While everyone else was filing back into the theater, I ran as fast as I could to the water fountain by the choir room. I drank deep and long, I as 16 and I wasn’t about to have my voice break on my first line of my high school acting career. The water, well it didn’t want to stay. I dashed into the Boy’s bathroom. Urinal. Out.

As I am running (literally running from the glass double doors to the stage door downstage right of the theater) past the band hall, I hear the opening threads of the show! I have about, ten seconds to get in place, or I am going to miss my very first performance que! I pass the last doors into the theater, I can hear the orchestra clearly now, and whip a right into the doors of the backstage entrance.

I am so lucky, two people are standing at the doors holding them open talking. Now, they weren’t supposed to be doing that, but I was very happy. I darted into the double doors, jumped up the stairs onto the stage. Now, I move briskly but quietly into place downstage right, where the apron meets the curtain. As I step into place, I hear it.

My que! Dawn is arguing with the man she is with, and she gets pushed into a (fake) lake. I jump out onto a bench onstage and say;

“There’s a girl down in the lake, I think she is drowning”

 

I turn out towards the audience, as I point into the orchestra pit, and I hear the audience laughing. Laughing loudly… Laughing loudly for a long time, and no one is speaking. Everything starts slowing down, now, in my memory and in that moment. The theater is cold, just like ‘Docs’ classroom, it is cold in the theater and it is cold on stage.

Suddenly, I feel… a breeze. Yeah, let’s say a breeze. I feel coolness where, it shouldn’t be. I feel a breeze and my pants are getting cold. I look down. Now, remember, this is my very first line in front of a paying audience.

And I look down, at my fly. And, my fly. Is down. I don’t panic, that’s the rule. So, I look back up, at the audience. I look down at my fly, and I pull it up. I look back up, at the audience, and give them a sheepish grin and shrug my shoulders. Then I turn, back upstage, to the student with the next line. Not missing a beat, budump-bump.

He didn’t have a chance, the boy with the next line, because the audience came unglued. I just stood there, looking upstage left, holding my breath. They laughed so hard, and for so long, and we all just stood there and waited. Dawn was in the pit, and she was smiling at me… really smiling. The boy, on stage, who had the next line was just standing there, smiling. And the audience laughed and clapped.

Shortly, it died down, and the play went on. As soon as the curtain went down on that scene, I was mobbed back stage. I had created quite a stir, going on stage with my fly down and then pulling it up in front of the audience. I was, now, the ‘Bad Boy’ of the play. The attention died quickly; as each person was called on to perform. That night, a hand full of people changed. They touched another reality, one they helped create. The show went without a single hitch, beyond my ‘Wardrobe Malfunction’.

That night, there were ‘Notes’. We didn’t often get ‘Notes’ after a performance, but tonight we were getting notes. I was sweating bullets. I mean, really, I walked out on stage with my fly down. Would I even have a role in the play, after tonight?

We gathered on the apron and the first two rows of seats. A lot of people were pointing at me, and laughing. I would have been embarrassed, but it was just too funny to me. Truman and Doc came down, and sat in the first row.

The first comments were from Doc, for Dawn, something about staging for getting out of the pit in act one. Then Truman had some notes, for people not projecting well enough. There was snickering at each pause, and these two guys just kept looking at me and laughing. Then it was time for Truman’s notes.

“Daniel, in act one scene one, you had a problem with your fly?”

It was like someone uncorked a juvenile genie and the laughter just came pouring out. Now everyone is laughing and going

“Way to go, Daniel!”

I look over, and see that Doc and Truman are laughing, too. I am not bothered; don’t get me wrong, strangely I am not that embarrassed. The laughter is dying down, when Truman speaks.

“Doc and I agreed, keep it. Keep the bit with the zipper.”

 

The cast just breaks into uproarious laughter and kudos. I get slapped on the back enumerable times, and that night, my very first performance? Is a cameo performance. Then Doc spoke to me;

“I remember I told you to speak up and make an impression. I guess that Daniel is listening to my notes.”

Another wave of laughter passes over the cast. A huge weight lifts from my shoulders, and I could feel from the cast, too. I don’t think anyone in the cast wanted me to get into trouble, for my wardrobe problem, they just wanted to laugh about it and share in some of the fun. I am relieved by how Truman and Doc reacted. Honestly, I’m not really surprised, it was a mistake, right?

I had ‘Doc’ ask me that very question, later that year. I’ll tell you what I told Doc. “I’m not saying, I don’t want to get into trouble.” Doc laughed.

This brings us to the end of this episode ‘Daniel the Freshman’.

 

Be sure to come back on Wednesday for the next Episode of ‘The Story of Daniel’.

 

Thank you, for your kindness and support.

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About Daniel Hanning
I am a; writer, editor and publisher. I write, most often, articles about our space program, fun videos andpolitical works. My most recent additions are; A Week In Review, Sunday Funnies and The Adventures of Nadia. Along with The Mars Report and Lost in Space. ENJOY!

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