Monday, April 5, 2010

Chapter 4 - Standby, Mackenzie

Mackenzie arrived at the theatre at 7am for the second day of rehearsals. Now 7am is an ungodly hour for theatre night-owls used to 8pm curtains. For actors and directors making a 10am rehearsal call time is being incredibly punctual, and the fact that stage managers start their days bright and early at 9:30 a bit of a curiosity to say the least.
But Mackenzie had work to do. Sure enough Big Cheese had been right – Steven and Juan had hit the bar after three hours of set building yesterday and had were nowhere to be found. Mackenzie had spent a few hours in hunting for items in the props shop, dumping items on stage as she found them. She had planned on getting there early this morning to set everything up and make sure she had “show-quality props” for everything that she possibly could.
The door to the theatre was locked, but through the window Mackenzie spied an extension cord running across the floor, and heard the faint roar of the vacuum cleaner once again. She rapped loudly on the door, and Bret let her in.
“Well somebody’s an eager-beaver this morning!”
“I have props to set up.”
“You do, do you?” Bret grinned surreptitiously.
“What?”
Mackenzie ran into the theatre and through the doors into the auditorium. Her props were all there onstage all right, but instead of just being in a heap they were arranged neatly on the set and on the props tables. Where dirty stand-ins and quickly-gathered items had been the night before there were now actual props. The shelf where the cupboard was supposed to go now held matching dishes, cups and glassware. There was matching cutlery on the table where there would eventually be a drawer. Freshly split firewood was stacked beside an actual woodstove that Mackenzie was sure hadn’t been in the props room or the shop. Ditto for the rustic kitchen table and chairs. There was even a gingham tablecloth and floral centre-piece.
“What the *&^%! Bret – who – but the guys were – did you do this?”
“Well it wasn’t the theatre fairies!”
In a sudden moment of unrestrained joy Mackenzie found the courage to throw her arms around Bret and kiss him ever so quickly on the lips before burying her head in his shoulder.
“Oh thank-you! Thank-you! Thank-you! Thank-you!”
“Anything for a rookie.”
“But how did you… I mean, I didn’t have half this much stuff here last night. And the woodstove? Where did that come from? And why? Why would you do such a wonderful thing for me?”
“You ask too many questions, Macky. And you’re not a bad props girl, for a rookie. But this – this is what Frank had in mind.”
“But he didn’t give me a deadline – he just said he wanted this stuff as soon as possible.”
“And by that he meant that he wanted it yesterday. He would have tore a strip off of you if that was all you had managed to find. You want a cup of coffee?”
Bret led the still shell-shocked Mackenzie out to the lobby, where the smell of Marlene’s pet dark roast was already emanating from the concession area. He poured Mackenzie a generous cup, and then one for himself, and they sat down in the plush chairs usually reserved for executive patrons on opening nights.
“Macky, you’re a good kid.”
“And you’re still 21.”
“And you don’t know the first thing about theatre. Do you know what Frank expects you to have ready for today?”
“Duh – the props.”
“The costumes.”
“What?”
“You will need to take the actor’s measurements today, something Frank will tell you should have been done at the read-through. He’s used to having a preliminary costume fitting by Day 2 of rehearsals, so he’ll realize today that costumes are behind schedule. Since Steven and Juan don’t know the first thing about costumes you’ll have to find as much stuff as you can in the costume shop and go to it. Push Frank to give you as much information as possible on what he’s looking for – you’re not a costume designer, so don’t get fancy – just give him whatever he wants. If you need to use any of the actor’s personal items – even shoes – that’s a union thing that you’ll have to check your CTA about. Also make sure to tell the actors they have a fitting tomorrow so that they wear underwear. By Friday you’ll want to have the costumes done and ready to go, because you won’t have time to deal with them next week.”
Once again Mackenzie was dumbfounded.
“Bret, how the heck do you know all this stuff? I thought you were the janitor.”
“I am the janitor. And as you seem to keep having to remind me I’m also 21.”
“So…?”
“So I know a thing or two about theatre. I don’t want to talk about it. I helped you this morning because you are a really nice, sweet girl, who’s totally clueless about what she’s gotten herself into.”
Bret got up to leave.
“Bret, what is Frank expecting me to have ready for him tomorrow?”
“The sound track. I’ll help you do with that after rehearsals are over tonight.”

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