Christelle couldn’t believe it. Even today that same strange dip and swerve would surge through her gut and stop her in her tracks and her breath would go AWOL.
There she had sat – spilled beans, spilled guts, nowhere near ready to see it as spilled milk – on Julie / Karen’s couch, doubled up like a diver with the bends – come up, come out too soon – and waiting for one of Karen’s combat boots to stomp on her toes.
Talk about the other shoe.
Christelle had been playing sweet Carrie Pipperidge to Karen’s shy Julie Jordan in Carousel and the last thing she wanted to do was blurt out, “I know, I keep messing up in rehearsal, but I’m so deeply in love with you that I can’t even remember who Carrie is.”
At least, it was the last thing she wanted to do while still in rehearsal. It would have been another thing when they had the performances behind them so that, if “Julie” was shocked, she had escape room.
But of course that’s what Christelle did. Blurted. Just like that. And not even at the theater, in rehearsal. At “Julie”’s. Sitting there on Karen’s couch. Working on their dialogue. Not even ready herself. Out it came.
And Christelle knew just as she did it that she could never again sing with any straightness: “You’re a queer one, Julie Jordan . . . ”
She was sure that the show was ruined, and more. She was sure that Karen felt fight-or-flight strung. Christelle just sat, elbows on knees, head in hands, that lurch in her diaphragm, looking for the force to run when Karen shooed her away.
No matter how much of a writer’s cramp she had from scribbling down the long list that she had just finished – all those guests for their tenth anniversary – she still couldn’t believe it.
published 4 May 2011