It began twenty minutes into the first act. Marvin Shay, in his role as Sir Guy Fenwick, received his cue for entrance.
Lady Birchmount had stormed off stage, leaving her daughter Pamela sobbing on the park bench.
“You’re on” the prompter whispered.
Marvin took a deep breath.
This was the night he had waited for. The years of chorus and understudy work had finally paid off. Although his name was not on the theatre marquis, it was listed third on all the illustrated posters that lined the lobby walls.
He had dreamed of an opening night like this. A filled to capacity house, with not a seat to be had, including in the ‘gods’, assuring him that every important critic would be observing him that evening.
Marvin entered stage right, walking towards the bench and the crying girl. He took Pamela’s hand in his and began to deliver the monologue which would hopefully bring the audience and critics alike to their feet with thunderous applause.
After just four lines, Marvin froze.
The sound started almost imperceptibly at first, a sharp buzz-like noise coming from orchestra-centre. Marvin’s eyes scanned the shadowy figures seated in the audience. As the sound increased in volume, the patrons began to murmur. Marvin felt his knees begin to buckle from beneath. He swayed and was about to fall onto Pamela when suddenly a stage hand caught him by the waist, preventing a complete collapse. The audience gasped and the curtain fell.
The house lights came up and brightened the auditorium. It was a full five minutes before a very large man was awakened from his snoring, escorted from his seat and ushered to the back of the theatre and out the lobby doors.
Marvin’s opening night performance had been ruined. He could not go back on stage. Having someone fall asleep and interrupt the importance of his opening recitation, was bone-crushing to his spirit, something he would never get over.
An announcement was made. The first act would start anew and Nelson Trigget, understudy, would replace Marvin.
Nelson carried the performance to it’s spectacular climax amidst cheers of abandoned delight.
Later that evening, shortly before mid-night, in a corner booth of a dimly lit tavern on West 52nd Street, Nelson Trigget handed an envelope to a very large man seated across the table from him.
The man accepted the envelope from him and yawned.
Lionel Walfish© 2016
© lionel walfish, 2019. All rights reserved.