We performed Sweeney Todd freshman year, which was a pretty good time; to be honest, I preferred it to Footloose, though I had a much smaller part. Contributing factors to my enjoyment were the obvious ones: the freshness of the experience, the fact that Mr. Joseph directed, and so on, and so on, and though these reasons were all very important it was for an entirely different reason that I really look so fondly upon the experience.
It was one of those late rehearsals, the kind that happen right before the show and last about eight hours or so, especially if they run long (this one was running long). About ten minutes into the second act (Johanna, Reprise) I began to get sleepy - not tired, for tired implies real exhaustion, and I was not exhausted. I was just comfortable - Tyler had shown me the wonders of removing my sneakers and socks in the orchestra pit and I was discovering the joy of being barefoot inside, in public, where I was really not supposed to be that way. My toes dug deep into the carpeted pit floor.
Oh, that carpet. I don't think I've encountered one quite like it in all my life. It was soft and fluffy - the kind that deserved to be in front of a warm fire - and it almost seemed like it was in front of a fire that night, what with the bright, burning spotlights on stage and the dim pit surrounding me. Outside, it had just started to snow - big, fluffy, fat flakes that drifted downwards as if in slow motion - and I had just recently sprinted back from the potluck dinner at the middle school. My hands had warmed up quickly after a brief chimes solo and now I was content, cuddly, and comfortable. I looked over at Tyler and saw that he had spread out on the floor. I decided I wouldn't mind a little rest either.
(As you can probably deduce from all the time the drummers have on their hands to relax, Sweeney Todd is not a percussion-heavy musical.)
I put down my sweatshirt as he stood up to begin playing the next song, the first of many that included no part for me. I sat down, testing the waters, seeing if it was really okay for me to be lying down in the pit. I let measures go by and nothing happened - no reprimand, no calling-out - I was simply not needed. I was free to lie down, and I did, cautiously.
I was short freshman year: this much you know but I want to make it clear that my voice was squeaky and that I was short enough to extend my legs all the way from the tam-tam to the timpani, an impossible feat for nearly anyone else. As soon as I settled in, I realized it: this was bliss. Being tired in public, secretly, staring up through the vibraphone keys and listening to the lilting alto, my head raised only enough to be comfortable but not enough to be useful, hidden, buried under a mountain of trap table legs and bass drum stands: this was something new, something incredible. I was surrounded by good friends and good music and I was just there, cozied up with the crash cymbals we kept on the floor, enjoying my surroundings silently.
I drifted off in the pit that night, only briefly, not enough to miss a cue but enough to fall in love with that carpet - that furry one that I dug my toes into one winter evening rehearsal.