*As far as the climax of the story goes...well, this is certainly a contender for that title. It's a Stacey chapter.*
The lead roles were up for grabs for the August show, the biggest show that the Tallis put up annually because so many of the actors left with the arrival of the fall.
Len spent the morning of the auditions signing people in by the rehearsal room. Stacey worked a shift at Esme’s in the morning, went home, showered, and curled her hair carefully, reciting the sides into the mirror. She’d warmed up her vocals in the shower and after donning her outfit, rushed to the theatre. Her audition was at three in the afternoon.
“How’s it going so far?” Stacey asked, bending over the table where Len sat. Stacey quickly signed her name on the list.
“Twelve in for your part,” Lennon reported, pushing her glasses up her nose with her middle finger. “Everyone’s got the sides down. It’s the singing that’ll determine who gets what.”
Stacey nodded, a serious expression coming over her face. She’d figured as much. The book for this particular musical wasn’t brilliant. It didn’t take a genius to make the part believable. But it would take a hell of a singer to pull off the vocals.
“Wish me luck.”
Len smiled at her roommate. “Break a leg.”
Stacey stepped away and sat in one of the waiting seats that lined the hallway outside the big room. Stacey was used to auditions the way Lennon was used to writing workshops. All of the times in college when Stacey didn’t get the part, when she was relegated to the chorus, became fresh again. She’d gotten leads here, but getting the lead for the biggest show of the year would still be a coup.
“Stace,” Len said, her head tilting quickly to the door, which was now open.
Taking a deep breath, Stacey stood up in one fluid motion and walked to the door.
The day after the auditions, Stacey, Lennon and Nick drove into Sedalia. Lennon buried herself in a corner at the local Borders, declaring that she was starved for new reading material, while Stacey and Nick had a coffee date in the in-store café.
“Are you expecting something?” Stacey asked, watching Nick across the small table as he pulled out his cell phone for the fifth time in ten minutes.
“I thought it might be about the list,” Nick said, eyes on his cell. “Nope. Not up yet.”
“Lenny can call in and ask one of the girls, if it gets posted before we get back,” Stacey said.
“Uh huh,” Nick replied. He pressed a button on the phone. Stacey could hear the keys beeping. Except for one guy sitting a few tables away, engrossed in a thick book, there was no one in the café.
“I don’t think you have anything to worry about,” Nick said suddenly. “It’s a musical. That’s your thing.”
“That doesn’t mean that I’ll get the part.”
“Musicals aren’t really my thing, but I think I might’ve done well enough.”
“Well, you’ve been cast in mostly lead roles since we’ve been here,” Stacey said. “So there’s no reason to think you wouldn’t be this time, right?” She sipped her macchiato.
“That smacks of bitterness, don’t you think?” He asked, not looking up from the phone in his hand, held up and blocking his nose.
Placing her cup down on the table, Stacey scrunched her eyebrows together in confusion. “I didn’t mean it that way. You do get a lot of leads. I haven’t had as many as you.”
“Well, I’m sure you’ll get this one.”
“Don’t say it if you don’t mean it.” She snapped back, his tone niggling her. “Can you stop looking at your phone?”
“I’m just checking my email.”
“You always check your email. You can’t have mail all the time,” Stacey said. “Nick, please? I’m trying to spend time with you.”
Nick placed his phone down on the tabletop. His bright green eyes dulled a little in color and his thick eyebrows, which gave his face a romantic, intense look, drew into an ominous line across the top of his face.
“You’re the musical theatre actress. I’m sure you’ll do fine,” Nick reiterated. “I can sing, but it’s not really my forte.”
“You don’t have to nail every aspect of performing,” Stacey said. “You’re a brilliant actor.”
“I’m not sure about that…” He muttered. “Hey, you know how I asked you if you thought training actually helped you?”
“Yeah,” she answered. Of course she remembered. It had been one of the first in a long series of conversations they’d had when they first began dating. Stacey remembered long, dark winter nights huddled under blankets. If they were together under those blankets, arms or legs intertwined, their voices intimate, then secrets would be exchanged. If they were apart, each holding a phone up to their ear, then other topics would pass between them. They’d talked about her college training during one of those long phone conversations, the kind that made her thankful that minutes were free at night.
“What about my training?” Stacey asked.
“Well, how much did training help you with auditioning?” Nick asked.
“I auditioned at least four times a semester for something,” Stacey said. “Films, musicals, plays, dance shows. I auditioned constantly. I didn’t get most of what I tried out for.”
“I wonder if training might beat some of the natural…I don’t know, I want to say confidence…out of you. When you try out for something.”
Stacey shrugged. It made sense on one level, she supposed, but Stacey had always been a prepared actress. She’d always known her lines, her marks, her choreography, and she rehearsed relentlessly. Some actors worked better when they winged it. She did not.
Wouldn’t have learned that if not for school.
“It depends on the person,” she said, which she felt was true.
“I don’t need training,” Nick muttered to himself almost, his voice was so low.
“That depends on the person, too,” Stacey replied.
She was stalking away, leaving him behind her, with his strange behavior and his flirting with the waitress at the restaurant they’d stopped in and his checking email on his phone and his total assurance that somehow, he’d get the lead, but his fake humility that he probably wouldn’t get the part. Probably wouldn’t? It would serve him right, it wasn’t his kind of role, but he’d get it anyway because Nick had become the leading man at the Tallis while she, who’d worked and worked and trained until her ass came off, had only just gotten her first bonafide lead…
Stacey could hear Nick behind her, shouting for her to stop, but she didn’t. In fact, she walked that much faster. Nick couldn’t keep up with her anyway. Funny how Lennon can keep up with me, and her legs are three-quarters the size of mine and Nick, who is taller than her, can’t. Bastard.
She didn’t want to be near him. She needed to cool off.
“Jesus Christ! Stacey!” He called. “Stop! Hey, stop running away from your problems.”
Oh, no he didn’t… Stacey pivoted on her heel and turned, furious, to face her boyfriend, whose eyebrows no longer looked romantic, but forbidding. She saw Lennon jogging in her sandals behind both of them, but her friend’s eyes were focused somewhere beyond them.
“I’m not ‘running away from my problems,’ I’m running away from you before I say something I’ll regret,” she said.
“Can’t take confrontation?” Nick pitched back.
“I don’t even know what we’re fighting about!” Stacey exclaimed, digging her hands into her hair. “Ugh!”
“You don’t have to be so fucking insecure all the time!” Nick called out.
“Says the guy who disingenuously claims that he won’t get the part!”
“Oh, don’t be such an actress, Stacey!”
Throwing her arms up in the air, Stacey turned around again. Even looking at his movie-star worthy looks was making her blood pressure rise. Summoning over twenty years of ballet, Stacey spun on her heel and ran to the corner of the block.
Her foot was on the asphalt when she felt a sharp yank on her right arm.
“What the hell are you doing?” It was Lennon’s voice and she sounded like a cross between sharp and concerned.
Stacey looked up and blinked. She was on the curb again and there was traffic coming toward her from three separate directions.
“Did I just—?” Stacey stared, open-mouthed, between the cars that were headed directly where she’d hopped out onto the street and Nick, who was seething, and Lennon, who had her hands on her hips. She’d almost flung herself into oncoming traffic—because of him?
“Look, Edward, Bella,” Lennon began sarcastically. “Give me the keys. I’m driving us back.”
“But Lennon, you don’t actually know how to—” Nick started. He didn’t complete that sentence, however, because Len turned her head to face him. Stacey could only imagine the expression was on Len’s face. She wondered if it was her fierce, eyebrows drawn together, angry furrows along the sides of her mouth kind of look. Or maybe it was her lethally calm expression; in those instances, it was all in her eyes and it was best to stay far away. The quiet ones were always supposed to be the ones who blew up, right?
“She’s hysterical and in shock and you’re about to blow a gasket, based on that vein that’s popping out of your forehead right now. So between the three of us, I think I have the least chance of getting us into an accident,” Len said. Then she joked, “Believe it or not.” She also added, “I’d like to live to see twenty-four.”
Turning to Stacey, she said, “Honey, hand me the keys. You sit in the front seat. Nick, you sit in the back. Let’s go.” Stacey fished the keys out of her bag, which had landed behind her on the sidewalk and handed them over.