From a distance, no one would be able to tell that the towel tied over her skirt was not part of the dress. Which was all that really mattered in the theater. Perhaps some first row patrons would catch the change in texture, but with the right stage lights even they may not see the extra lines. The tear in the costume was the last of a series of misfortunes that had everyone muttering darkly when they weren’t busy coming up with solutions. At least the reinforcement to the house drop was working. The set literally falling down around your ears was hard to justify in character.
Liz smoothed a hand the towel for a third time and waited in the wings for her cue, but it wasn’t going to be super soon, so she noticed the trio of stage hands muttering to each other off to the side. One of them was talking softly and quickly, gesturing sharply and the other two kept glancing toward the other side of the stage where Riley was waiting to make his entrance. They weren’t the kind of looks you wanted the people in charge of heavy moving set pieces to be shooting at you. Then it was time for her entrance, so Liz took a breath and launched into her character scene, thoughts of grumbling stagehands forgotten.
The performance had gone off with only two other hiccups, but the stage notes had taken forever so Liz had forgotten to grab her costume to take home so she could mend it. She ducked back into the dimly lit theater. She grabbed her costume, and walked by the open door of Riley’s dressing room. His bag was still there and his station hadn’t been tidied. She heard muffled sounds from the stage. What the hell was he doing on the stage this late? He better not be messing with the stage props. Maybe that was why the stagehands were muttering. She walked into the wings intent on pulling Riley back to his dressing room, but she stopped at the sight on the stage. Riley had his hands stuck behind his back with a set of apparently effective handcuffs. He was kneeling on one of the prop moving flats and his ankles seemed to be duct taped down. The three stage hands she’d noticed earlier were standing in front of the ghost light.
“-and to complicate matters you said it three times. So now we get to do everything nine times. If you ever do this again we are going to contact every minor theatrical group technical director and tell them exactly what you did. Good luck getting any parts in any company for sixty miles.” Overcome, the props master put her head in her hands.
One of the movers stepped up. They were all still in their blacks so she couldn’t tell if she knew him. “To put things simply. We are going to make you put things right. Then we are never going to speak of it again. Got it?”
Riley nodded repeatedly. The second woman turned to the props master, “What about the one in the wings?”
All three of the stagehands looked her way. The props master swore softly into her hand. “How many of them are there?” She asked.
“Just one,” Liz answered. “And I don’t want to be any trouble. I just want to make sure Riley is going to be okay. His understudy is unreliable and I’d really enjoy getting through the rest of this run. Everything going to be alright?”
The three stagehands looked at each other. There were quick telling glances and a few hand gestures she knew had to be some kind of sign before the one who pointed her out turned back to her. “Riley is going to be fine, if somewhat embarrassed. As for you, join us in the theater prayer, forget this happened, and go on home.”
“Okay.” Liz walked forward and joined hands with the stagehands. They bowed their heads and spoke in unison. “The theater is magic, there is magic in the theater, blessed are we who get to create such magic, break a leg.” Liz looked up and for a moment, outside the ghost light, she thought she saw a pale figure in the audience watching them. And then she was taking her costume and walking away. After all, the show must go on.