Miranda Thomas liked pretending to be someone else. Her true self receded behind a persona she had spent innumerable hours crafting, rehearsing, and perfecting to the greatest possible extent. And her hard work paid off as she made her regional theatre debut in The Reluctant Guest.
They enjoyed her. Several dozen strangers laughed at all the right moments. Everyone returned to their seats after intermission. They cheered when the lights went down at the play’s conclusion. And audiences never lied. Miranda loved that about them.
She had graduated from Olympus University a mere three months earlier, and she was already doing her favorite thing in the world—as a professional. Her castmates were fun, the reviews were strong, and the nonprofit company owned a charming venue. This was not a poor start by any means.
Today’s matinee wasn’t quite finished. Miranda had one last moment on the stage, the only one as herself.
Warm light enveloping her, she crossed the polished floorboards of the Aeschylus Theater for her curtain call. The stage was smaller than most, and its house seated a mere eighty-eight on three sides. An intimate performance space, perfect for a four-person contemporary comedy. It minimized the barrier between actors and audience, filtering none of their reaction. Right now, it was Miranda’s stage.
Difficult to see the audience’s faces through the glare of the lights, but everyone saw her—a petite young woman with tremendous presence. Her eyes, large and vibrant, attracted all others. The applause sounded genuine, not merely polite. She knew the difference. Enthusiasm fortified each clap, and it all coalesced into an intoxicating fanfare. Some of those silhouettes rose from their seats. They didn’t have to. Miranda earned that.
One tiny concern lay at the back of her mind, however. She wasn’t positive they were truly seeing Miranda Thomas, the actress, rather than the humorously absent-minded host she had played for the previous two hours. They needed to recognize her and recognize that they wanted to keep seeing her in various roles in so many other plays, television shows, and movies. This production couldn’t be her pinnacle. If this was the pinnacle, then she failed, and odds were, she was going to fail at the only thing she ever wanted to do. But she couldn’t think about that now, certainly not while people were applauding her. Besides, she’d no doubt receive plenty of reminders about her long odds during dinner immediately afterward.
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