Starring Role: Chapter 14| February 15, 2022
And suddenly I wonder if I have a totally wrong idea about what starring in production is all about
“Girls, quiet. Girls, this is important!”
The final run-through is over and Miss Weller is up on stage, trying to get everyone’s attention above the excited chatter filling the auditorium.
Tova and Elisheva, production heads, make a valiant effort at shushing everyone. Finally, the room settles into comparative quiet.
“We need everyone here by five p.m. If you’re late, there might not be time to do your hair and makeup.” Miss Weller says this with an absolutely straight face, even though we all know that we’re going to look perfect before going onstage. After all, this is a Bnos Ayala High School production; we have a reputation to uphold.
“Also, a reminder that absolutely all makeup is being done here at school. Please, no one waste their time doing their own makeup at home, because it will be removed.” Miss Weller speaks with emphasis. I roll my eyes. Everyone knows that only the ninth graders take that part seriously. I mean, I guess the school is worried about girls doing their makeup overdramatically, but honestly, by 12th grade, we know what we’re doing. I’m sure most of my class is planning to come with makeup done. Who wants their face smothered with some commercial cheap product that’s far too orangey for their skin? Not me, that’s for sure. My voice is gonna be mortifying enough.
“You’re gonna look gorgeous, Reens,” Lani tells me as she does my makeup at home, and I try to smile. I don’t want to look gorgeous, I want to sound good. But it doesn’t seem like I’m getting a choice.
Lani does a great job, of course. I admire myself in the mirror as she French-braids my hair, in preparation for twisting it up to go under the lacey maid’s cap.
“Thanks a mill,” I tell her. Is my voice a little stronger? I hope so.
“My pleasure. Good luck! We’ll all be there.”
I know they will — Ma, Lani, the whole family. My heart lurches again.
When I pick Baylee up, she looks at my makeup strangely. “I think Miss Weller was serious, Rena,” she says. “I heard they’re being really strict this year…”
“Well, I’m not taking it off,” I say. “I’ll tell them I have sensitive skin. If they use those junk products on me, I’ll break out tomorrow.”
Baylee shrugs. “Good luck.”
Mrs. Kirsch is standing at the door, directing traffic, and other teachers are down the hallway, helping out.
“Rena, I’m so sorry, but you’re going to have to take off your makeup,” Mrs. Kirsch tells me quietly when she spots me. “You know the rule. Only makeup that’s applied here, under the direction of the teachers.”
I flush. Seriously? I see a bunch of my classmates huddled to one side. They’re all wearing makeup. They’re also arguing furiously with Mrs. Becker and Miss Reiser.
The teachers shepherd us to a classroom labeled TWELFTH GRADE — HAIR AND MAKEUP. A bunch of older girls are waiting there with makeup kits and mirrors. At the far wall are two girls wielding curlers and buckets of bobby pins, ready for hairstyling.
Miss Weller is there, too. “Girls, I’m sorry, but you know the rule,” she keeps repeating. “If you did your makeup at home, please remove it. The girls here have exact instructions and they know how to make you look appropriate for the stage lights, and also which productions need what makeup. You don’t want to stick out on stage or look too pale or overdone.”
My classmates grumble as they take makeup remover wipes. Makeup remover wipes, ouch. I hate using wipes; it stings my face.
What if I just refuse? They’re not really gonna stop me going on stage.
Or will they?
Doubt slithers in my gut. Maybe they would. After all, I’m just a maid, I’m dispensable. Now if I had the starring role… then I’d get to do whatever I wanted. No one would stop me going on stage for a stupid thing like doing my makeup at home.
I sneak a glance at Mindy. She’s for sure not going to listen. Why should she?
But to my surprise, Mindy’s at a mirror, carefully scrubbing her face clean. She crumples the wipe in her hand and goes over to one of the makeup girls for them to do her face again.
And suddenly I wonder if I have a totally wrong idea about what starring in production is all about.
To be continued…
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 899)
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