THERE ARE NO SMALL PARTS
by Miriam Lugy Wolfe. DRAMATICS. April, 1992.
I craned my neck to get a look at the ANNIE GET YOUR GUN cast list. My eyes scanned the rows of names. And scanned, and scanned. Finally I found my name -- in the lower left-hand corner of the legal-sized page, under the heading, "The Chorus."
Dazed and deflated, I slowly backed away from the list, relying on the blue cinder block wall opposite for support. I was thinking, "How could this happen? After four years of playing leads! It's humiliating! I deserve much better!" I had not been given a lead, deserving or not.
I don't know what made me do what I did next. Considering my state of mind, I should have done myself and the rest of the cast a favor and gone home. Instead, I blinked back my tears and walked to the rehearsal room as if I was going to my own execution. When I reached the wooden double doors, the thought of entering this room, to which I had always eagerly rushed, filled me wit dread. I swung the doors open and entered.
The read-through was already in progress. Most of the cast members were perched on steps descending into the room. I spotted my friend Stephanie, a petite girl with an almost childlike figure. She had deep brown, shoulder-length hair and an impish face. I sat down next to her, and we shared her script. My anger was rising with each badly read line. I muttered, "This stinks...I hate this...I can't believe I'm only in the chorus...this stinks...I hate it!" I knew that my lamentations were of no use, but I continued anyway. Stephanie waited patiently for me to stop, barely acknowledging my whimperings. I went on, unable to prevent my thoughts from taking control of my mouth. Finally, Stephanie could no longer contain her anger. She turned to me, her deep brown eyes becoming slits, and hissed, "If you hate it so much, why don't you just quit?"
"Maybe I will," I replied, bristling at the harshness of her challenge. All communication between us ceased for the rest of the rehearsal. After an eternity, the rehearsal ended, and I raced to catch the activity bus. Stephanie, who rode the same bus, followed my outside to the front of the school. I plopped myself down on a cement bench, and Stephanie did the same on another. I stared at the ground dejectedly. When the neon yellow bus pulled up, Stephanie walked past me without a word. I could tell by her jutting jaw that she felt contempt for me. Then, right before the buss pulled away, she stood up, leaned over, and spoke directly to me.
"Miriam, so are so-o-o-o-o stuck up!" she said. "I can't believe you! I've been in the chorus all of my life and there's nothing wrong with it. It's just as hard as being a lead -- maybe even harder. How do you think all of your b----- makes me feel? If you don't like it, just get the h--- out!"
She stormed to the back of the bus, and I dissolved into tears. I couldn't believe Stephanie had treated me that way, and yet I realized that she was doing me a favor. I had been heading for a fall that was long over due. Stephanie was absolutely right, and I hated her for it.
By the next morning, Stephanie and I had already apologized to each other, and I thanked her for telling me what no one else would. I asked her to please repeat her performance if the occasion ever arose. We both giggled, and I felt like a part of the human race once more.
As I walked down a crowded hallway toward my first class, another theatre friend named Debbie approached my (actually, she charged me like a bull). "Did you hear the news?" she asked, bubbling with excitement. Without waiting for my reply, she continued, "The girl who's playing Dolly quit! You'd better see Tom! You might have the part!"
I ran to the rehearsal hall. When I got there, I tried my best to appear casual in front of Tom, the director. "So, Tom, what are you going to do now that Cathy has quit?" I blurted out. (So much for subtlety.) Tom said that he hadn't decided yet.
As I turned to go, he asked, "Wolfe, do you have a script?" I explained that I didn't, because he had said that chorus members wouldn't be needing one. "Well, let me get you one," he said, walking swiftly to his desk. Not understanding, I asked, "Why?" Her turned to me and said, "I'd like you to play Dolly. Think about it, okay?"
I went home and debated for hours. I thought of what a good experience being in the chorus would be. But I took the part. How stupid do you think I am?
[Miriam Luby Wolfe was a freshman musical theatre major at Syracuse University when she wrote this reminiscence of her days as a Thespian at Severna Park High School in Maryland. A few days before Christmas in 1988, the twenty-year-old Wolfe was one of thirty-five Syracuse students returning from a semester of study on London on Pan Am Flight 103. The plane was destroyed by a terrorist bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 people aboard.]