Cady: Hey, girl! What’s up?
Gretchen: Not much. Just finished making some cupcakes.
Cady: Cool! Soo… are you going to the performance of Hamlet at the park?
Gretchen: Of course!! You know it’s my favorite play. I’ve seen it so many times that I could probably do the whole thing by myself.
Cady: Great! Damian’s in it, I’m the stage manager, and we even convinced Janis to do some sets! And I need to ask you a HUGE favor.
Gretchen: Go for it.
Cady: Okay, so you can totally say no, but we were wondering if you could proof it for us. Our dress rehearsal is on Friday. And, again, you can say no.
Gretchen: Yes!! That sounds like fun! I’ll be there.
Cady: Great!!! Thank you SO MUCH!!!! Oh, and one more thing.
Gretchen: What is it?
Cady: You better bring some cupcakes.
Gretchen: You bet!
Gretchen was so excited about seeing Hamlet. She’d seen it before, at every opportunity she was given, but she still loved it. She was a huge fan of Shakespeare and Hamlet. She loved it. For a long time, she was afraid to say anything about it. She feared judgment, especially from Regina. She was afraid of losing her status.
Gretchen still feared that people would not like her. She might always fear rejection, but now she had stronger friendships. She was still close with Karen, but now she was friends with Janis and Damian, too. She got to know the real disaster known as Cady Heron. She had even decided to help Regina.
Regina wanted to change. She had driven her best friends away from her. She had manipulated and hurt so many people. She had convinced herself she had to remain well-liked and popular, but she really did want to be better. She needed to be better, both for herself and her friends. Regina really cared about them, and they wanted to her to be a better person, too. Janis and Damian still kept her at an arm’s length, and for good reason. Regina couldn’t blame them. Gretchen was helping Regina be a better person, and she had a feeling that this could help them. She had no clue just how much.
Gretchen: Hey, Regina!
Regina: Hey, Gretch. What’s up?
Gretchen: Cady just invited me to see Hamlet at the park. Wanna come?
Gretchen: Yay!! There’s a dress rehearsal Friday that I’m going to, and the show is actually on Saturday.
Gretchen: You don’t have to go to both though.
Regina: Sounds like a lot of fun. I’ll go to both
Gretchen: Okay! It’s gonna be so fetch!
All week, Gretchen had been so excited, and by Friday she could hardly sit still. She had convinced her English teacher to give her extra credit for helping with the show.
After school, Regina and Gretchen left in Regina’s car. They had decided to watch the first run, Gretchen taking notes, and then they would go to the mall. Their plans changed, though, the moment they saw Cady frantically running up to them.
“Cady? Cady, calm down! Breathe.” Gretchen said, trying to calm Cady down.
“I can’t calm down!! It’s all ruined, nothing is going right.” She seemed so stressed, and that made Gretchen worried.
“What’s wrong?” Gretchen asked.
“The sets aren’t done, our Ophelia costume doesn’t fit Ophelia, which doesn’t matter because she broke her leg! It’s all going downhill maybe we should just canc-“
“No!” Gretchen interrupted, “You worked so hard on this, so did Damian and Janis on their parts.”
“You’re right, but I don’t know how we can do it all tonight!” Cady replied, clearly becoming more stressed out by the second.
“We can! Regina can help out with sets, at least a little bit, and-”
“And Gretchen can play Ophelia!” Regina said, admittedly a little bit excited.
“What?” Cady and Gretchen both asked though Cady seemed more excited about Regina’s words than Gretchen did.
“Yes!! You love Hamlet! You’ve seen it a million times, and I know you know all of the lines. You can do it! Plus, you have all night to prepare.” Regina attempted to convince Gretchen.
“Sure, I could, but that doesn’t help the costume situation,” Gretchen tried to find a way out of the tricky situation.
“Wait!! You have that costume from the Renaissance Faire! Remember? I let you geek out a couple of years ago for your birthday. It’s a little old, but my mom can find someone to adjust it,” Regina explained quickly, “Gretchen, if you don’t want to do this, no one will make you. I just- I know how much this show means to you. You love it, and I just want you to be happy, okay? That’s what a good friend wants, right?”
“Yeah. I do want to do it.” Gretchen decided. She walked backstage with Damian.
Regina was assigned to work with Janis on the sets. Janis quickly found out that Regina couldn’t paint very well. However, she was good at applying even base layers of paint, due to her years of experience in makeup. They eventually made a system, and actually ended up working together pretty well. They had some issues at first, for obvious reasons, but they weren’t too bad. Janis was a little bit pouty, and may or may not have “accidentally” spilled paint on Regina. Regina wasn’t much better. It took a lot to not slip back into her comfortable, and popular, “keep everyone at an arm’s length” attitude. She might have slipped up a few times, but they did finish. The sets looked amazing, and they might have talked a little bit after finishing. They definitely weren’t friends, but they were on their way to becoming able to stand being in the same room.
On stage, Gretchen was surprising everyone, both by how well she could act, and by how well she knew the part. She picked up her cues and blocking in record time, and, of course, she knew most of her lines already.
They practiced as long as they could. By the end of the night, Cady’s heart rate had lowered back to a normal level, and everyone else felt much better about the show. Gretchen rode home with Regina and babbled on about Shakespeare and Hamlet the whole time. She gave her costume to Regina, who had quickly found someone to adjust it, and she already knew her size because of their many shopping trips.
The next day, Gretchen started to feel her nervousness growing. She knew the part, she had confidence in that. Unfortunately, that’s about all she had confidence in. She worried about her portrayal of the character, whether it was accurate or not, as Ophelia was a difficult role. She worried about her costume. She worried about her blocking. She was just generally worried.
At about one in the afternoon, Regina came over with Gretchen’s costume. It was beautiful, and it fit really well. Gretchen felt a small bit of weight lift from her shoulders as Regina fastened it. Gretchen’s mom and Regina both said that it looked amazing, and, honestly, Gretchen had to agree with them. She didn’t know what it was about the dress, maybe the way the cream colored fabric hung in the design or the fact that it was a costume for one of her favorite characters, but it made her feel a little better about the day. After a while, she reluctantly took it off. Regina promised to take good care of it and take it straight to Cady’s house.
The rest of the day was spent trying to calm Gretchen’s nerves, eventually, she and her mother agreed on drinking tea and watching anything unrelated to Shakespeare.
At about four o’clock, Janis and Damian showed up to give Gretchen a ride to the show. They stopped to get food first, Damian warning Gretchen about the strict “no food in costume” rule that was the visual equivalent of nails on a chalkboard to Cady.
When they got to the park, they rehearsed the show from top to bottom. They put final touches on the blocking to make it seem more natural. They also worked on making sure everyone knew their cues and their lines. They rehearsed incredibly hard.
Finally, it was time for the show. Gretchen could feel the feelings of excitement and nervousness bubbling within her, both trying to completely cover the other up. She was in costume and mouthing her lines silently to herself.
At the beginning of scene three, she entered alongside Laertes. She walked with a grace and poise that she rarely possessed.
“My necessaries are embark’d: farewell:
And, sister, as the winds give benefit
And convoy is assistant, do not sleep,
But let me hear from you.” Laertes spoke.
Gretchen felt like she was shaking, though she knew she wasn’t. She was so nervous up there. She looked at the boy in front of her, but she could feel the audience staring at her still.
“Do you doubt that?” The words flowed from her mouth before she could stop them. She then felt an instant calming feeling rush over her. Her first line had just come out so easily. She knew what she was doing.
The rest of the show went on perfectly. Cady’s perfectionism actually did some good this time. The people left after the show. Janis and Regina both stayed behind for their friends. They told Gretchen about the many people they had overheard commenting on how well she did.
The rest of the night was kind of boring. She went home, still giddy with the thought of all the praise she received. She eventually went to sleep completely content.