Dress Rehearsal

Written by: Ray Stone

Ronnie Darling stood behind Emma Clatter, clicking his fingers as she passed tickets over the counter to a customer.

Emma picked up the burning cigarette she was hiding under the counter and drew on it, inhaling deeply. “Sales are going well for Saturday matinee but the evening is gonna’ be slow. It would help if the bleedin’ heating worked.” She blew a long stream of smoke into the air and shrugged, pulling her cardigan over her shoulders. Strands of gray hair fell from her groomed head. “And do you have to do that? It’s so annoying.” She nodded at his fingers.

“Johnny was supposed to call me today. He’s so naughty.” Ronnie almost sobbed and threw his head back. “If he thinks I didn’t know about Melton’s little kiss behind the tabs yesterday, he is mistaken. Oh, for goodness sake, we are supposed to be arranging the flowers.” Irritated,  he looked at his watch before stomping out of the box office.


Stage Manager Marge took the biro from behind her ear and traced the list of cues on the cue-board until she found 41. “Here it is, Sparks. Number 23 blue for stage fill and 14 light pinks on the solo singer. You, sorry, George, had them the wrong way round. You’ll have to bring the bar in.” 

Sparks looked up at the fly platform. “Percy, let’s have the bar in, please. Thanks.”

A hand touched Marge from behind. Tanner appeared from behind the tabs with a triumphant look on his face. “Take a look over there, guv.” He pointed to the other side of the stage where Johnny Cumlately and Melton were in a tight embrace. “Those two are like bleedin’ rabbits. They need a bucket of cold water thrown over them. Disgustin’ it is…chewin’ each other like that. Cor blimey, do we have to watch em’?” He screwed his eyes up. 

A foot stamped on the wooden floor of the fly platform. Percy leaned over grinning broadly and pointed into the auditorium. “Darling is coming this way.” 

Marge closed her eyes. “That’s all I need.” She turned to Tanner. “Walk out onto the stage and shout something like, afternoon Mr Darling.”


“Just do it.” Marge bared her teeth at Tanner.

Tanner shrugged. “If you say so.” He sauntered out, hands in pockets. “Hello, Mr Darlin,’ looking for her are ya? She was here a couple of minutes ago.”

From the side of the stage, there was a loud thump as Melton fell over a stage weight while hurrying for the dressing rooms. The Artistic Director suddenly appeared with a red face as the front tabs billowed out. Tanner stood in the middle of the stage and turning to Marge and Sparks, blew a giant bubble from the gum he was chewing.

Darling, just within earshot, followed Johnny across the auditorium saying, “You wait until I get you home, you Jezzabelle.”

Marge glared at Tanner. “Late night, so you won’t be having the girlfriend over either, Tanner.”


Pandemonium and chaos. Will the show ever go on? I like the by-play you're showing as the director uses valuable rehearsal time to play with his favorite. There's always one in every cast, isn't there? Nice atmosphere, Ray. I sense the worn black paint underfoot. I'm sure I can heat things up.
Well thanks for a nice review, young man. "Worn black paint underfoot?" Hmmm. Not sure but I know you can heat things up. Let's hope there's nothing on fire in the scenery pit except your characters' dialogue. Look forward to your offering - BTW did you know that my chapter nearly fell off the grid. Must do better next time. - The Stylefit says this of your review. Introspective, emotive, expressive but with a high proportion of adverbs. One day we will get things right.
The second paragraph is great with the nod to Ronnie for clicking his fingers and strands of grey hair falling from her well groomed head. It breaks up the dialogue and helps us to see the person who is speaking as well as the person being addressed.