The Boys from Syracuse, Worcester Academy, spring of 1994.
I am playing the role of the Courtesan, which is what happens when you’re a curvy alto. You play the nag, the mother, or the whore.
We, myself and my four courtesan underlings, are fully costumed, in orange togas, slit up the front from mid-calf to just under the bustline, under which we wear yellow leggings. To set me apart as Chief Among Whores, I have a chunky, gold-link belt slung on my hips. The belt is pinned at the back, since as a singing, dancing lady of ill-repute, I do a big kick line number in the eleventh hour, and the costumers don’t want the belt bouncing and knocking off the blue jewel I have pasted above my navel.
Yes. A blue navel-jewel.
So, the rehearsal is running well–which, for anyone not in the theatre, is a bad sign, and my big number is up. The whore’s jazzy plea for an honest john. I’m ready, the girls are ready…
The choreography goes well, the vocals go well, we’re in time with the pit… we link arms for the kick line. Right knee, right toe flexed, left knee, left toe flexed… right knee, right toe flexed…
And like a spinning galaxy in a model of the universe, I watch the belt twist and arc up–out over the proscenium extension…
Left knee, left toe flexed…
It flashes in the follow-spot as it hits the apex and begins to fall…
Right knee, right toe-flexed…
Into the lap of the bassist, who’s also my music theory teacher.
Jazz hands uuuuuuupp!! And hold!
As the lights fade and we scurry offstage, we’re met with snorts, chortles and guffaws… and that’s just from the pit. The cast and crew are in silent hysterics. But I hold my head high, giggling and blushing scarlet.
I never missed a note.
And a wardrobe malfunction is a good sign. Screwing up in final dress means you’re more likely to be on your game opening night.
And opening night was great. I vamped it up, hit my smoke-bomb cues, smooched the leading man, and made it to the eleventh hour number.
We took our places in the dark, feet on our glow-tape marks, and as the scene lights come up for the intro to the song I see, where none had been before, a hard hat on the bassist.
I never missed a note.
But I never lived it down either.
To this day, when I see that particular teacher at alumni events, I am reminded of my belt flying into his lap when I was 17.
Did someone embarrass you, your parents perhaps? Or did you bring it upon yourself?
Are you still embarrassed or can you laugh at it now?