This past weekend was the double show weekend. Usually we don’t have shows on both Saturday AND Sunday, so it’s always a challenge to keep the show fresh. I have no problem doing a show more than once a week – I usually prefer it. This past weekend however, it was the last thing I wanted to be doing.

On Wednesday of last week about 5 minutes after I left school, I started to feel awful. I had an instant headache, ear ache, sore throat, and my body started to feel like I’d been hit by a truck. My mom sped me to the doctor who diagnosed me with an ear infection and a bad sore throat. Luckily it wasn’t strep, but it sure felt that way; I could barely swallow. I was forced to stay in bed for two whole days while I got better, forcing me to miss the last days of advanced drama and the senior farewell. It killed me to miss school, especially such an important day, but I knew that the most important thing was to get better for not one but 2 shows that weekend. I have no understudy, so the importance of my health was even greater. I lay in bed, almost permanently drowsy, drinking so many liquids I thought I would drown. If I tried to walk around I usually had to lean on something for support, for the ear infections had given me vertigo. By Friday evening I was feeling much better than the first day, but still I wasn’t doing so well. My ears were killing me and I still couldn’t eat many foods that weren’t noodles or applesauce. I was incredibly concerned about the show, and whether or not I could even get through it without getting vertigo or losing my voice.

Saturday finally came, and I was allowed to show up late to the call time in order to rest a bit more. I wasn’t feeling well at all, and mistakenly I decided to join in with the musical run-through that takes place before every show. I felt my throat start to get rough and painful, even though I wasn’t pushing at all. During the lunch break, I took a quick nap in the rock house (where the costumes are kept during the week) and then tried to isolate myself as much as possible while getting my hair done, makeup done, and microphone on. I wasn’t feeling well at all, but after I heard that this was the biggest Saturday crowd we’d ever gotten, I knew I had to rally.

When I stepped onstage I felt miraculously ok, no trace of any sickness. My voice felt strong and clear and I was feeling great, until I started to sing “Rainbow.” I usually stand on the porch of Dorothy’s house during the first part of the song, but as I gripped the railing, I felt like I could tumble over at any moment. The whole show felt like I was on the edge of collapsing from loss of coordination. I somehow danced and sang like it was effortless, but inside I was just counting the scenes until the show ended. After the show I felt surprisingly exhilarated, like nothing was wrong. Many people told me that they felt like this was my best performance, which was weird as I had never felt so sick before a show in my life. I went home and got vertigo the second I stepped through the door, and quickly went back to bed and stayed there until I fell asleep, anticipating a similar result the next day.

However, when I woke up I felt almost worse. I was allowed to come late again, which helped but I still was exhausted and ached all over. Even though I rested before the show I was feeling worse than I had all week, and I was definitely questioning my ability to deliver a decent performance.

This time when I stepped onstage, I felt shaken and detached, like I was just going through the motions but couldn’t put any effort into it. I started to feel better as the show progressed though. “Rainbow” felt a bit shaky, but Munchkinland went smoothly and the Scarecrow scene felt great. All was going well until a few minutes into the Tinman’s song, “If I Only Had A Heart.” He was singing the second verse when I felt something crawling on my chest. I didn’t know if it was a fly, a bee, or worse, but I panicked. I had to stay in the scene however, so I tried desperately to just concentrate on the song and not the unknown insect crawling across my chest. Pain shot through my body as I felt it sting/bite me, I wasn’t sure what. My hands instantly went to the spot, and I tried to make it look like I was just putting my hands over my heart, not trying to squish the attacker. The second I did so, I started to get dizzy and lightheaded, but I knew I had to make it through the rest of the first act so I tried not to think about it.

As soon as act one ended I ran offstage and collapsed out of vertigo and panic from the sting/bite. It turned out to be a small bite from a horsefly on my chest, but the lump looked huge to me at the time so I couldn’t relax. I broke down out of panic from the bite, breathing heavily from the heat and swaying a bit from the vertigo. My mom came backstage to give me my medication for the infection, but it just made me sicker. I felt like I couldn’t go on, even though I knew I had to. Eventually my balance returned, but I still don’t recall anything that happened in the second act of that day, it was like I was running on auto-pilot. It only proved to me that I really do know this show inside out, which is a good thing because I definitely didn’t know what I was doing that Sunday. People later told me I had delivered a great performance, and I weakly thanked them but told them that I didn’t know why because I was practically unconscious.

I’m finally better now, and resting up for Sunday’s final show. I’ve only recovered so quickly through the help of a lot of rest, antibiotics, tea, water, and throat spray. Doing those two shows took a lot out of me, and I still can’t believe I actually did it while being as sick as I was.
Hope those of you who haven’t already can make it up for the last show this Sunday. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I’ll be able to remember this one 🙂
~ Sarah ~

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