Stage Directions

Anyone  who reads my stories will know I do like a bit of silliness. Add in some Unicorns and you’ve got the perfect prompt.  😁

Blue unicorns with star cropped 3.2.18

‘Line up everyone. Take your places.

‘Petunia will you PLEASE remember you are in the second row, not the first.

‘Igor, I’m sorry but you’re just too big for this production, now get back into the wings so I can get this rehearsal started.

‘Quiet please. Ready? Lights, cameras, and Go.’

The music began, and several members of the cast actually managed to hit the beat as they began their routine. Unfortunately, most of the rest didn’t. The dance director sighed as he glanced towards the producer, sitting in the front row of the stalls with a scowl on his face. It was all very well breaking boundaries and inspiring new initiatives, but this was turning into an impossible task.

When the original idea had been muted, and Frederico had been offered the job, he was full of enthusiasm. Now, after three weeks, enough tranquilisers to knock out an elephant, and only seven days until opening night, he was sinking ever further into despair. If it wasn’t for the fact he would be blacklisted and never work in the industry again, he would have resigned long ago.

Not only was there the problem of communication, but with so many different types and sizes amongst the cast, his creative vision had hit rock bottom. Supposing the critics didn’t understand the magnitude of breaking new ground. Even worse, what if the audience laughed? He would never live it down.

‘OK people, er everyone. Let’s start again from the beginning. And this time try to keep together. You’re meant to be a dancing troupe not a herd of charging rhinos. Forget I said that. Ready?

‘On the count of three. One, two three. Begin.’

Time after time he put them through their paces but there was little improvement. Eventually, well after night had fallen, he called a halt.

‘Well done everyone. That’s enough for today. See you all in the morning, bright and early, and remember time is ticking and we need to be perfect for the final dress rehearsal. Goodnight.’

As the last dancer trouped out, Frederico slumped into the nearest chair and closed his eyes. He felt more than saw the producer rise from his seat and approach him. Tempted to pretend he was asleep he decided that wouldn’t be a good idea, and plastered a smile on his face as he prepared to face his adversary.

‘We’re getting there,’ he said, trying to sound positive. ‘Just a few minor hitches to iron out and we should have a spectacular opening night. How’s the publicity going?’

‘Hitches? Hitches? They aren’t hitches they’re a total disaster. I must admit Frederico, I’m disappointed in you. Your reputation preceded you as the best in the business, but this just isn’t good enough. All these performers were hand-picked to give you the best possible artistes, but your direction is sorely lacking. If it wasn’t for the press blabbing about it being my idea to employ you, I would have let Julian take over weeks ago.

‘Be warned, he would be ready at a moment’s notice, and be a lot cheaper than the exorbitant sum I’m paying you. We could say you developed a sudden mysterious illness and were unable to carry on. In fact, the same excuse could be used for you never working again. You have until tomorrow night to get it right.’

Frederico opened his mouth to respond, but the producer was already striding out of the theatre, giving him no chance to explain. Filled with despair, he hadn’t noticed one of the troupe hiding behind the curtain eavesdropping. Batty was upset. He thought the director was a pleasant, friendly person, easy to work with, and supportive of newcomers. Now it seemed he was in trouble. Something needed to be done to put that pompous producer in his place. Flitting quickly through the dark night he contacted the cast to outline his plans. The troupe needed to pull together, and make this show everything it was hyped up to be.

Frederico was tempted to stay in bed when the alarm went off the following morning, but in the end decided to get up and figuratively face the music. Arriving at the theatre he was amazed to discover the full company already assembled, and huddled into groups practicing their steps. It seemed the producer hadn’t even given him one final day to turn things round, and the new director, although nowhere in sight, had taken over.

‘Hi boss.’

‘Hello. We’re ready when you are.’

‘We needed to get a few things right before you got here. I think you’ll be pleased.’

The chorus of voices surrounded him as Frederico looked around the group.

‘Thank you everybody. I’m delighted to see you all here early and hard at work,’ he said. ‘I assume this was the new director’s idea.’

‘What do your mean, new director?’ Batty asked. ‘You’re our director and always will be. We thought it would be a good idea to have extra practice before you arrived, but we’re ready for rehearsals whenever you are.’

‘I appreciate your support guys. Shall we start from the top?’

Frederico watched in amazement as the performers sorted themselves into groups and began their routines, but instead of a mash-mash of confusion they were now segregated into different factions, each with their own designated space on the stage. He had never agreed with the producer’s original idea, but had been afraid to tell him it wouldn’t work. For the first time since he started this endeavour he felt hope rising, and by the night of the dress rehearsal he knew he had a gigantic hit on his hands.

Opening night came, together with the butterflies in his stomach, or rather they fluttered in a beautiful display as the curtains parted. Stage left the rhinos stamped their feet in perfect synch with the elephants on the right. In front of them, the other animals performed their turns in groups according to their size, in descending order with the tiny fairies nearest the front.

The applause was deafening, with the cast taking their bows and enjoying the calls for more, prior to the finale. The theatre went dark, and a silence descended as the curtains were drawn, and the audience held their breath in anticipation. What more could Frederico do to surpass the fabulous show they had just witnessed?

In the blackness not a sound was heard until a soft beat penetrated the stillness, felt rather than heard, then grew in intensity until the rhythm resounded in every heart. As the curtains parted, fireflies spread sprinkles of colour across the stage, which intensified into twinkling, glittering stars until they spotlighted the four silver Unicorns standing motionless centre stage.

In perfect unity each raised one front leg, then the other, and finally all four left the ground as the sound swelled, and they moved faster and faster. The music hit its crescendo and they completed the most fantastic tap dancing routine ever seen. The applause raised the roof as the audience called for encore after encore, and all agreed the tap-dancing Unicorns were the star of the show.

© Voinks December 2017

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