Showing the emotion of fear for Jim Hall's class
|Lisa looked on from the auditorium as Charlotte declaimed her lines for the middle school's Frozen stage adaptation that everyone was preparing for.
"Are you envious that she's playing Elsa?" Andy asked, sitting down next to his sister. He was wearing his Kristoff outfit. "I know how much you love the Snow Queen."
"Oh my, no. I'd never be able to go up there and sing Let It Go in front of hundreds of people. I think I'd die of fright!" She licked her lips nervously at the very thought. "Charlotte is a perfect actress—she'll be wonderful in the role."
"You sure you don't want to change your role from supporting to lead? You don't get any lines being a lady in waiting."
"No, no! I couldn't possibly. I'm not an actress!" Lisa's voice went up several notes.
"Why not? It's nothing to be scared of."
"I'm not scared!"
"You just said you'd die of stage fright. That's being scared."
"No, it's different."
"Seems like the same thing to me," Andy said with a smile.
"Oh, that's just like something Kristoff would say," Lisa snapped. "Keep your acting to the stage."
"I think you'd love acting."
"Don't you remember what happened in kindergarten? The teachers made us put on a show, and I took the starring role, and when I got onstage I forgot all the words! Everyone laughed at me. It was so humiliating." Lisa's face flushed red and her eyes filled with tears at the memory.
"Aww, come on, sis. You were like what, five years old? No one remembers that anymore. You have an incredible memory. You're always singing at home. You could do it if you wanted to."
"Not on your life."
Andy shrugged and stood up again to do his next scene.
Preparations for the show were progressing well, until one Saturday, a month before the opening.
Lisa's phone rang. It was Mrs Sanders, the drama teacher and head director of the upcoming show.
"Lisa, I need you to step up for me. Charlotte broke her leg and she won't be able to play Elsa. I know you know all the lead lines by heart. You're a huge Frozen fan, and I think you'll be the perfect leading lady."
"What?" Lisa jumped and almost dropped the phone. "Oh, no, Mrs Sanders, there's no way I could do it!"
"But Lisa, my dear, this will be the perfect opportunity for you to overcome your fears and have a proper acting experience."
"But—but what if I ruin it? I'm not nearly as good as Charlotte."
"You've done small roles before and done them well. I know you can do it. I'm sure you've been secretly wanting to be Elsa in this play all along."
"What about Angie? Couldn't she be Elsa?"
"She has a terrible memory for lines. She would never be able to handle it."
Lisa went down the list of other potential actors that she could think of, but they were all either already busy with school projects or otherwise unable to take on the role.
"We're counting on you, hon. You're the only person who can do it."
"Oh, well, okay then, Mrs Sanders. I'll do my best." But her knees shook and her hands started to sweat as she put down the phone.
"You're being a scaredy-cat," Andy said as they rehearsed once more in the auditorium.
"Am not!" Lisa shouted. But her hands trembled so much she dropped the golden sphere she was supposed to hold during Elsa's coronation ceremony. It rolled right off the stage and headed under the rows of seats.
Her best friend Alice, who was playing Anna, flashed Lisa a big smile and ran to pick up the sphere.
"Don't worry, you've got this! We're all cheering for you. It'll be your big debut!"
Lisa couldn't say a word. Her stomach flopped and her legs felt weak as she imagined how everyone would laugh at her if she dropped things during the show or panicked and forgot her lines.
She couldn't bear to think about how she would let down the whole drama team who had worked so hard directing and producing the adaptation. They'd been working on it for at least a year. It was the talk of the town. Rumor had it that a man from Disney would be in the audience to scout for talent. Yikes!
At home, her dad found her in the living room endlessly brushing up on her lines and theatrics.
"You're doing wonderfully, dear."
"No I'm not. It's all wrong!"
Andy looked up from his video games.
"Nothing's wrong with this performance," he declared. "You're doing better than Charlotte ever did. She doesn't have your spirit. She doesn't really like Frozen, not like you do."
But Lisa was convinced she would be a failure. She couldn't sleep without having nightmares about how she would humiliate her school, even the whole town. She wondered how she would be able to show up for class the day after the performance.
One night a week before the opening, she pulled out her journal.
Maybe I can fake being sick and get out of it that way. But then the show would be over without an Elsa; everyone's work would be wasted. I don't know how I'm going to do this—I feel like throwing up every time I think about it! But it has to be done. They're depending on me.
She sat up in bed, hugging herself tight and trying to breathe deeply, but the breaths came out short and choppy as her mind raced through the disastrous scenarios of what could happen. It didn't seem possible she could pull it off. And how could it be only a few days away? The months and weeks of preparation were interminable before she had been assigned the lead role, but this past month had flown by like lightning—she wasn't ready!
The morning of the big day, Lisa could hardly eat breakfast. Her heart was pounding so fast, she was getting lightheaded. She feared she might faint and have to be dismissed from school.
"This is ridiculous," she scolded herself in the dressing room that evening. "I know the role inside and out, everyone is being kind and supportive—there's nothing to be afraid about at all!"
But she couldn't quell the cold sweats, tight muscles and tremors she was getting. The noisy laughter and chatter from the dozen or so other acting students milling around, thrilled to finally be getting underway with it, was grating on her nerves.
"You ready yet?" Andy called out behind her.
She jumped and spun around with a little shriek, knocking over a stack of books that crashed into a small table by the dresser, sending mirrors, brushes and tubes of makeup flying across the room.
"Lisa! What made you do that?" Mrs Sanders asked as she bent to pick up the scattered things.
"He startled me," Lisa whispered, helping her out.
"I'm asking if you're ready because there's only fifteen minutes before the curtain goes up!" Andy said impatiently.
Lisa gasped and grabbed his arm.
"Fifteen minutes!" She ran to the curtains and peeked out. "Oh my gosh, there must be a thousand people out there! I can't do this!"
"Yes you can," Andy insisted a little too harshly. "You're going to ruin it for everyone, acting like that. Just get over it, get out there and—"
Lisa grew pale and started shaking all over. She turned and ran right out the backstage door and down the hall towards the restrooms.
Time seemed to stop as she locked herself into a stall and stood there, trying to hold back the tears, her heart racing. Her friend Alice came in.
"Lisa, are you here?"
Lisa opened the stall door and stepped out. Alice immediately wrapped her in a big pink hug.
"I was worried about you. You looked like you were having a heart attack."
"What am I supposed to do? I can't face everyone!"
"No, no!" Alice patted her back. "Don't you realize—this is perfect! What you're going through right now is exactly what Elsa was feeling during the coronation. She ran away from the big event because she was terrified of facing her people, afraid of how they would respond to her unleashed powers. All you have to do is channel your feelings right into the play! You are Elsa! You'll make her come alive for everyone."
Lisa glanced up from her best friend's embrace and saw them both reflected in the restroom mirrors, wearing their Frozen costumes and wigs. It hit her that Alice was right: in the universe she was about to step into, they were no longer Lisa and Alice, the school kids. They were Elsa and Anna, and they were embarking on a tremendous, carefully rehearsed adventure.
Her eyes widened. She stared at herself in the mirror with a newfound delight.
She was about to say something when someone banged on the door.
"You've got five minutes until the opening! Come on!" Andy shouted.
Alice and Lisa burst into hysterical giggles and chased each other backstage, holding hands as if they really were the Frozen sisters.
When the curtains rose on the opening scene, Lisa stepped stiffly and jerkily out onstage. She clutched her sceptre in a white-knuckled grip, elbows squeezed flat against her sides.
For a moment everything she was supposed to say and do fled her mind; she stood rigid, staring unseeingly out at the ocean of faces in front of her.
But then she heard a voice and caught sight of Alice's warm, glowing smile and rosy pink cape. The spell broke and everything fell into place.
Lisa poured her feelings into the character of Elsa, channeling every bit of fear and uncertainty. When the coronation sphere slipped out of her hands once more and rolled across the stage, one of the minor players rushed to catch it and hand it back to her with a royal courtesy, and instead of ruining the play, it added the perfect impromptu human touch.
By the time Lisa's Let It Go moment came along, she was so caught up in the action that she almost forgot it was a play at all. As far as she was concerned, she really was Elsa, running away from the icy chaos she had created, escaping to the mountains and singing her heart out about freedom and how the cold never bothered her anyway.
When Anna and Elsa finally threw their arms around each other with Kristoff standing loyally by, and the curtains came down over the ending scene, there was a thunderous roar of applause.
"Lisa, you were wonderful!" Alice exclaimed, skipping on her heels.
"Yeah, we said you'd nail it," Andy added as he pulled off his Kristoff hat.
Now that it was all over, Lisa felt weak and dizzy as if someone had pulled the plug. She removed her platinum braided wig and ran her fingers through her hair.
"Wow… that was, like…" She couldn't think of anything to say.
"Lisa, the man from Disney wants to see you." Mrs Sanders said.