As we take our final bows, I look down from the stage at the theatre filled with people. All of them were standing and applauding. I thought back to what brought me to this moment.
Nine months earlier:
My name is Jacob, a carpenter by trade. The workload has been sparse these last few weeks. A few repairs here and there, and if I were lucky, a kitchen remodel would come up. Currently, I am in between jobs, so my days have been spent browsing the want ads.
I came across an advertisement recently for a theatre in New York. They were looking for someone to help with set design and construction for a production they had coming up. They were still in the process of choosing the roles, then rehearsals would begin soon after.
My team and I would be working on the sets in between rehearsals, so I was able to sit backstage and watch the progression of each of the actors as they brought life to their characters. Some of them were excellent actors. The gentleman cast as the lead was Sam Sweeney. He had done several secondary roles as well as a few leading roles in off-Broadway productions.
As good as an actor he was, Sam was something of a snob as well. He felt as if he were better than everyone else in the cast, and he let them know it quite often. The leading lady, on the other hand, was down to earth and loved by all…except for Sam.
When she took center stage, all eyes were on her. Her vocal prowess captured the minds and hearts of cast, crew, and anybody else who might have been watching. Her name was Kaitlynn, thought everyone called her Kitty for short.
Kitty was twenty-two and full of life. I must admit, the first time I ever saw her, I was drawn to her like a hypnotic spell. I would stand backstage in the shadows as she belted out one of her songs, and it felt like she was singing the lyrics directly to me. Of course, she had no idea that I even existed at that point.
As the months past, I found myself singing along to all the melodies throughout the show. I even memorized several of the lines for a few of the characters. I guess when you hear them over-and-over again for months on end, they tend to stick.
I stopped at the catering truck that was parked in the back parking lot, grabbing a quick snack and a coffee before getting back to work, when Kitty came up along side me.
“Would you like to go ahead of me, Kitty?” I asked.
“Thank you, but you were here first. I can wait,” She replied. “Your name is Jacob, am I right?”
I was astounded that she knew my name. “Yes, that’s correct.”
“You are doing an amazing job on the sets,” she stated forthright.
“Thanks, Kitty. I take immense pride in my work, but in all honesty. This has been a work of passion for me. I have never found so much enjoyment on any other job.”
“Well, it shows. I can’t wait to see the end results.”
I waited for Kitty to receive her order, then walked with her back into the theatre. She bumped up against me in a flirtatious way, and I nearly spilled my coffee. She just laughed, placed her hand upon my shoulder, and said, “See you around,” before heading back to her dressing room.
I felt like I had just been touched by an angel. I stood in that same spot for several moments watching her walk away. That was when I heard the stage manager yell out my name. I was instantly brought back to reality, but I could no longer get Kitty out of my head.
It was nearing the end of construction, and we just had a few more details to work out. There was a number at the end of the show where Kitty had to be hoisted up into the air as if she were rising to Heaven. I rigged up a pulley system using titanium cables that would only be visible from the first or second row, but virtually invisible beyond that. The tricky part was designing a harness that Kitty could wear under her costume without it being noticeable. With the aide of the costume designer, Nora, we pulled it off. The clasps for the harness were covered in the same fabric as her dress so it would blend in.
Opening night was only one week away. Sam and Kitty were expected to rehearse a kissing scene. I wasn’t particularly keen on watching them kiss, so I went for a walk. That was when fate dropped in…literally.
One of the pinspot stage lights fell from the rafters above the stage and hit Sam on the back of the neck. He immediately collapsed, and blood pooled up on the stage floor. He was rushed to the emergency room and treated. After a minor surgery, the doctor notified him that he would be on bed rest for the next several weeks. This meant that he could not perform.
The cast began to panic, and the director was prepared to postpone opening night when I heard Kitty say something that was completely unexpected.
“Instead of postponing the show, why don’t we have Jacob take over the lead?”
I thought I was hearing things until the director replied.
“Jacob? Who in the hell is Jacob?” he asked.
“Jacob, the set designer. He knows all of Sam’s lines. I’ve watched him off stage mimicking everything that Sam said and did. Can you just give him a shot, please?”
I sat silently behind the curtain waiting to hear the director’s decision. Then I heard him call my name. I nonchalantly wandered out onto the stage and asked him what he would like.
“Kitty here tells me that you know the lines for the lead role. Is that true?”
“I believe so sir, though I have never actually said them out loud.”
“Then show me what you got,” the director said.
I nervously stood in front of the whole cast, spotlights shining down upon my face, blinding me from the director’s face in the seats below.
“Where would you like me to begin, sir?” I asked.
“Start with the break-up scene. Kitty, read along with him.”
My anxiety was getting the best of me, and my mind was drawing a blank. I had forgotten the lines, but then I looked into Kitty’s eyes, it all came back to me. She smiled and told me that I would do great. She took hold of my hand, and her fingers caressed my palm, then all the anxiety faded away.
With effortless skill, Kitty went from a soft, caring young woman, to a scorned ball of hatred in an instant. I was so in awe of her acting ability, that I nearly forgot my cue. Once we started our banter back-and-forth and finished the scene, the theatre was silent. Not one cast member dared to speak. They all waited for the director to say the first word.
In the shadows of the seats center stage, we heard a slow clap. That was soon followed by clapping from behind us, until everyone was shouting and cheering. That was the beginning of my acting career.
It was opening night, and as I sat in my dressing room, there came a tapping on my door. When I opened it up, Kitty stood there already in costume for the first scene. She was stunning to look at.
“Can I come in?” she asked.
“Yes, of course.”
She entered the dressing room and shut the door behind her. As she neared, she had a look in her eyes that made me curious. With a half-smile, she bit on her bottom lip and came within inches of me. She placed her hands upon my chest and looked into my eyes. I felt an electricity racing through my veins.
I placed my right hand upon her cheek, leaned down, and our lips met. I felt lightheaded at first, as if I were walking through a fog. I looked at her and said,
“I thought that it would be wise to practice the kissing scene one more time.”
“Good idea,” she replied flirtatiously. “Perhaps we should go over it a few more times. We want to be convincing for the audience, right?”
The night went off without a hitch. When the curtain closed, the cast members began hugging one another. I held Kitty tightly in my arms and kissed her passionately. The applause continued, and we prepared to do our final bows.
As I peered into the front row, I saw Sam standing there applauding. He met my gaze and gave me a thumbs up. I nodded in appreciation of his approval.
Kitty changed my life by getting me this role. I went from designing things out of wood, to creating a new life where I could be anything I wanted to be, and with Kitty by my side, it would be a life worth living.