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Antigone in the Spotlight (Again): Phantom Overcoats

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Scene I: Overture

“Georgie,” Antigone hissed, “You tricked me!” They were in the first row of the theatre, a place Antigone had sworn she would never set foot in again.

“No, I didn’t.” Georgie was smug, “I promised you would like it, and ya will. We just have to wait for everyone else to get here.” A few minutes passed and people started finding their way into the theatre, first the mayor and the reverend, then Agatha Doyle, then the village hoodlums… Antigone waved at them and they greeted her enthusiastically. They chatted for a few minutes before something she said triggered a chorus of, “Discuss!” and they were drawn into their own little world.

While Antigone had been distracted, several more people had come in including Rudyard, Antigone noticed with some surprise, and—

“May I sit here?” Eric Chapman gestured at the seat next to Antigone, a soft smile playing on his lips. Antigone nodded, looking down shyly.

On her other side, Georgie huffed, rolling her eyes, but it was more out of habit than any real malice. “Told ya you’d like it.”

“Shut up.” Antigone tried to keep her smile to herself, and then Eric asked her about her latest scented embalming fluids. They talked while more people trickled into the theatre. It looked like a lot of the Piffling Amateur Dramatics Society  regulars, as well as some people Antigone was sure had never been in a production before.

Then Georgie got up on stage and clapped her hands. “Alright, everybody. I’m gonna be directing the next production the Dramatics Society is doing. We’re gonna be going up in October, so we’re doing Phantom of the Opera.” There was a murmur of excitement around the theater, then Herbert Cough got up and began walking out.

“Hey, where you goin’?” Georgie called out from the stage.

Herbert kept walking, but he answered, “I won’t do anything by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Not after Jesus Christ Superstar. Never again!” With that, he shut the door behind him.

There was an awkward beat of silence and then Georgie went on, “Alright then. We’ll work around that. Now, if everyone else is up for doing Phantom of the Opera and rehearsing three nights a week until October, when we’ll pick it up a little bit, let’s get goin’.”

Everyone nodded or shouted their agreement, and Georgie grinned. “Cal, if you would?” Calliope nodded and began walking around with a stack of papers and booklets, while Georgie continued. “Cal’s passin’ out the schedules and your librettos, please keep track of ‘em. I’ve assigned everyone roles, you’ll notice that some of the leads have more rehearsals, and some are just for the ensemble. It should be easy to read but if you have questions, ask me. So. Just so you all know, we’ll have live music, which should be really excitin’. Rudyard Funn will be directing, Miss Scruple agreed to play the organ for us, and Calliope and the bassoon patrol and the other scouts will be playin’ other instruments and extra percussion as they see fit. We’re not doin’ too  much with the orchestra until October, but we’re all here for this first meeting.”

Antigone glanced around, and sure enough, a few rows back was Rudyard, smiling smugly and listening to something Madeleine was squeaking at him.

Georgie went on, “Jennifer is stage managin’ for us, and she’s got great ideas for set and props, so look forward to that. The Dramatics Society has costumes and things for us, but if you have something you want for your character or that you think would work for someone else, let Jennifer know. Now, I’m sure you’re all dyin’ to know, so I’ll tell you what’s been decided for the cast. We’re doing a real minimal, stripped down show with a small ensemble, and they’re gonna be played by the village hoodlums. Roz, Wez, Baz,  you good for that?”

“Yeah, it’ll be a really great chance to explore the shiftin’ nature of humanity as we play all our parts.” Wez said, and the other two nodded in agreement.

“Great.” Georgie grinned, “Mayor, Reverend, I want you to play Andre and Firmin.”

The Mayor’s reedy voice cut over the crowd, “I’m usually very busy, Georgie.”

“Mayor, I’m in charge of your schedule. I promise you won’t be overburdened. And you two have almost all your scenes together, so you can practice.”

“That’s alright then,” Reverend Wavering said, “Unless it isn’t, Dezy?”

“No, it’s fine with me, Nigel.”

“Great. Petunia, you’ll be Meg, and Agatha, Madame Giry. You’re dependable for the Dramatics Society, so I know you can pull this off. We have some newcomers too. Tanya and Bill, I need you as Carlotta and Piangi. And Roger, can you play Raoul? I know it’s bigger than what we had discussed originally, but I think you can do it—it’ll really give you a chance to stand out.” All the people named agreed.

“Antigone, you’ll be Christine, and Eric, you’ll be the Phantom!”

A sudden feeling of dread swept over Antigone.

“Oh perfect!” Eric enthused from the seat next to her, “You know, I actually played the Phantom of the Opera for a few weeks on Broadway,” he paused dramatically—

“A long time ago, yes, we know, Eric.” Georgie interrupted, then turned her attention on Antigone, sitting stock still in the front row of seats. “What do ya say, Antigone? Christine?”

Antigone sputtered, nerves taking over—she didn’t have good experiences with the stage, from that long ago talent show to The Sun Beyond the Shade, and Georgie knew this, the traitor. “Oh, well, I’m not sure if I…”

“Yeah you can,” Georgie’s tone was soft, but full of her usual confidence, “ I know you can. You’ll be great.”

Antigone huffed, “Well, alright, but if it goes wrong I’m never leaving the mortuary again.”

“Yeah!” Georgie punched the air. “So today, we’re gonna jump in with a full cast readthrough, and I’ll be playin’ the original West End cast soundtrack in place of the songs. Orchestra, follow along in your scores and pay attention to what you want to play. It’ll be kind of a long day, but we can make it through.” She sat down on the edge of the stage, swinging her legs back and forth. She pressed play on a speaker sitting next to her and the dramatic pipe organ of the intro filled the stage as everyone flipped open their librettos to follow along.

Scene II: Think of Me

Antigone really, really regretted the fact that Georgie had ever heard her sing. Yes, technically she had the range to sing this part, but that didn’t mean she was going to survive singing it, and acting it, opposite Eric Chapman! Not that he was at rehearsal today, thank everything that was holy. No, today it was just her and Roger Noggins. Antigone liked Roger, she did, they’d had such a good time putting his funeral on, but acting together…

“Alright, Antigone,” Georgie said, “I need a little more from you in this scene. Really channel Christine’s excitement and disbelief, yeah? She can’t believe her old childhood friend is back and so handsome now.”

“I, well, right…” Antigone tried to agree, but she felt so stiff. And Roger was too. Georgie was saying something to him now, but Antigone wasn’t really listening, staring at the theater seats distractedly. To be in love with Roger Noggins (Antigone had a sudden terrible flashback of Marlene Magdalena on her knees in front of her) was beyond—no, she wasn’t in love with Roger, Christine was in love with Raoul. Or at least infatuated. Antigone could do this.

At least Georgie had said they didn't have to actually kiss until tech rehearsals, the week before they opened. But then they would have to kiss. Antigone tried not to think about the kissing, because doing that with Roger wasn't particularly appealing, and the idea of doing that with Eric was simply too much.

(She tried not to think about it, but she thought about it all the time. What would it be like to kiss Eric? How would he hold her?)

But right now she was focusing. Georgie gestured, and Antigone sat back in the chair that was standing in for Christine's dressing room seat. Many of their scenes together were here, the initial meeting and the second act planning, and for the rooftop scenes they just took the chair away. Georgie had explained her concept for the sets, based on the limited experience and resources of Piffling Vale, and Antigone thought it really sounded quite nice.

Georgie started the rehearsal track and Roger mimed letting himself into the room and then began to sing, “Little Lotte let her mind wander…” He was still focused on his libretto, but they hadn't been rehearsing that long. Antigone still leaned heavily on hers as well. And Georgie had told the cast she expected them to be off book the third week of September, so Antigone wasn't too worried about it… yet.

They spent a few hours working on their scenes together, with Georgie running the rehearsal tracks and reading lines when another character was in the scene. Georgie was surprisingly competent as a director, and actually quite knowledgeable about music and how they could sing successfully. A good portion of their time was spent rehearsing their songs, as well. Antigone hadn't expected Georgie to know so much, but then she had said, “I'm great at directin’ musicals, Antigone,” and she wondered why she had ever doubted. Georgie was great at so many things, why not this as well?

Georgie declared that they would run “All I Ask of You” one more time and then they could call it a night. Antigone listened as Roger began singing, his voice warm and clear as he started the song. When Antigone came in, she let herself get swept up in the melody. “Say you'll love me every waking moment, turn my head with thoughts of summertime…” The music really was lovely, and Antigone enjoyed singing it, although it was hard to even pretend she had these feelings for Roger. At least Eric wasn't here to see her pretending to be in love with someone else—no, wait—oh god, what was it about the theatre that always made her honestly consider her feelings?

Antigone stared at her libretto, trying to banish that train of thought. This was a tremendous feat, especially considering that the lyrics of the song were so saccharine sweet. She shuddered, but she would make it through this.

Georgie ended rehearsal, telling them both how well they had done, and that she looked forward to seeing them at the full cast rehearsal in two days. Roger clapped Antigone amiably on the shoulder as he set off, and she mirrored his pleasant words in a daze.

Jennifer Delacroix appeared from backstage, and Georgie lit up upon seeing her. Jennifer started gesturing to notes on her clipboard, and Antigone slipped out the door without either of them noticing her departure. They were sweet together, Georgie and Jennifer—always seeking each other out, leaning into each other.

Antigone breathed in the cool night air, and couldn't help wondering if she'd ever find someone like that.

Scene III: Angel of Music

“Petunia, Antigone, I need to believe that you are friends.” Georgie sounded somewhat exasperated, and Antigone couldn’t really blame her… but Antigone had never really had friends, she didn’t know how to have friends, so the relationship between Christine and Meg was a little beyond her. Yes, she counted Georgie as a friend, but their relationship wasn’t like Meg and Christine at all.

It wasn’t helping Antigone at all that Petunia Bloom didn’t have the soft and comforting energy that was usually ascribed to Meg Giry. It was an interesting tone, but it worked—just not for Antigone. Agatha Doyle, as Madame Giry, was a surprisingly intimidating ballet mistress, and they were working on the scene in which Meg tells Madame Giry and the theatre owners that Christine could sing Carlotta’s part. Tanya’s tantrum as Carlotta had gone admirably, and the Mayor and the Reverend were doing quite well as the owners, but somehow it didn’t seem that Petunia as Meg believed that Antigone as Christine could in fact perform the role, and it was hard to believe that Antigone as Christine wanted Petunia as Meg to vouch for her.

It was, in a word, awkward.

Georgie signalled them to start the scene again, and the hoodlums, Bill, and Tanya, along with Petunia and Antigone, got in place for the Hannibal number. They ran through the scene, past “Think of Me” and into “Angel of Music”, the duet between Meg and Christine. Petunia was at least committed to her role, and Antigone did her best as well, but she could see Georgie’s lips pressed together in a disapproving line, like she was thinking, “Yeah. They’ll have to work on that…” Jennifer sat next to her, rubbing her shoulder consolingly.  But she didn’t stop them, and they made it through “Little Lotte”, stopping for a break just before the Phantom’s entrance, like they had planned.

Agatha and Petunia began chatting, and Jennifer was once again showing Georgie notes on her clipboard, probably something about the set. Antigone looked around for a moment before taking a seat in the audience, in a half-shadowed corner. The house lights were off, so it was nice. To be believable friends with Petunia… Antigone heaved a sigh.

“Mind if I join you?” The question broke into her reverie. Antigone looked up to see Eric Chapman standing at the end of her row and she waved a hand vaguely along the seats. Eric grinned, quick as a flash, and then sat down one seat away from Antigone, leaning on the armrest and over the empty seat between them. He was close, but not in an overwhelming way.

“You’re doing a fantastic job, you know,” he said. “I had no idea you could sing like that!”

Antigone willed herself not to blush, and only stuttered a little. “Oh, I’m, um. Thank you. I don’t sing often… but it’s hard to say no to Georgie.”

“She’s very persuasive,” Eric agreed. “But she’s put together a great show, I think. Although the orchestra…”

A flash of familial loyalty burned in Antigone’s chest. “The orchestra is going to be fantastic. My brother can do music, and the scouts are great, and Miss Scruple is excellent.”

Eric grinned again. “Whoa, okay, okay, I mean no harm.” He didn’t seem annoyed though, almost kind of… thrilled? Antigone wasn’t sure why he was smiling like that. “I just, I guess I didn’t know about your brother’s abilities, and Miss Scruple can be rather distracted. You’re right though, the scouts are great.”

Antigone nodded, glancing down at her hands where she was fiddling with her skirt. “Rudyard will surprise people, I think. It’s not a big island, but I’m not sure many know that he’s as competent as he is.” She met Eric’s gaze again, lips twisting sarcastically, “Especially with how some of our funerals have gone.”

He barked a laugh, almost as if she’d startled it out of him, and then, “Still,” he dragged the word out, “I’m sure everyone will be just as surprised and delighted by you.”

“Oh god, stop saying that.”

Unapologetic sunshine beamed back at her, “Why should I, when it’s true?” Eric glanced up at the stage, then stood up, saying, “Ah, it looks like Georgie is calling me, and break’s about done. Thanks for chatting with me, Antigone.” He touched her shoulder quickly, gently as he left, and Antigone found herself staring after him as he went. Ohhhh, why why why did Eric Chapman have to be so damn charming?

Soon enough, Georgie was calling the cast back together to rehearse the end of the first act, from “Magical Lasso” all the way through the Phantom’s reprise of “All I Ask of You”. They had skipped all of the Phantom and Christine’s scenes together, because while Eric and Antigone had both been working on their parts, and they’d had a few rehearsals together, Georgie didn’t feel like they were quite solid enough to put them in front of the rest of the cast yet. Antigone had been a little bothered to skip the scenes, but after the way Eric had just been acting, she found herself rather glad she wouldn’t have to listen to him sing “Music of the Night”, especially not if he was going to be looking at her like… like that, the whole time.

Chapter Text

Scene I: The Music of the Night

Georgie was concerned they weren’t connecting enough. “No one is going to believe that she’s under your spell, Eric. They’ve really got to feel like you’ve… ensorcelled her, and right now you don’t look like you want to be here, much less have her be here.” Eric nodded intently, scrawling notes in the margins of his libretto.

Antigone bent her libretto back and forth restlessly. If Eric was doing poorly, she could only imagine what Georgie would have to say to her.

“Antigone…” Georgie paused in that way that meant Antigone wouldn’t like what she was about to say. “You need to let go. Starting way back from when he appears in the mirror, he’s cast a spell on you. You’re enchanted and totally, totally trustin’. You just gotta relax.”

Antigone laughed quickly, slightly hysterical. “Right, of course, of course.” Let go, around Eric. Be totally trusting, of Eric. Ohhh, she could do this.

“Now,” Georgie said, “You two have been working hard today. Let’s start again at the mirror, and I’ll read Raoul’s lines, and we’ll go all the way through until “Stranger Than You Dreamt It”. I really want to see you two leaning into each other. Eric, the only thing that matters to you is that Christine comes, that she wants to be with you like you want to be with her. Antigone, this is your angel—you’re grateful, and you trust him, so of course you’ll go. Let’s have a go, shall we? And Antigone, Eric, let’s try it without the librettos this time. I know you’re both memorised.”

Antigone clutched the booklet to her chest, “Georgie, no, I can’t. I don’t, I’m not—” She cut off, staring at Georgie desperately.

“Fine, go ahead and keep it, it’s early anyway.” Georgie said to Antigone, then raised an eyebrow at Eric, who was setting his libretto down.

“I’ll be fine,” he smiled pleasantly, “At least for this scene.”

Georgie took her seat in the first row, starting the rehearsal track for the mirror scene. Antigone took a deep breath and tried to settle into the right demeanor as Eric began singing, berating (the currently absent) Raoul for trying to steal his triumph. Antigone responded, pleading with the Phantom to stay and guide her. As she let herself feel the music, she let herself trust the Phantom as well, and she went willingly through the mirror with him. Somewhere in the middle of “The Phantom of the Opera”, Antigone got rid of her libretto and allowed herself to really enjoy the music, and Eric the Phantom leading her by the hand down into his lair. Even though she had immersed herself in the scene, fainting from shock when she saw the mannequin wearing the wedding dress still felt incredibly awkward. It did every time, but Georgie had never said anything, so Antigone just had to assume it was alright.

In any case, it was nice to just ‘sleep’ and listen to Eric sing “The Music of the Night”—he had a lovely voice, and the song was so grand. When she ‘awoke’, she drifted as if in a daze until she saw the Phantom and tore his mask off. Antigone didn't like this scene—Eric shouted at her, and it was so jarring. But then, their first few rehearsals together, he hadn't sounded convincingly upset at all, and Georgie had really given him the what-for. Still, this time Antigone held it together and they made it through the scene, as the Phantom exploded and then pleadingly sang of his deep loneliness and wish to be loved.

“Well done, you two,” Georgie called out, clapping firmly. “Let's take ten, yeah? And then I want to work on the graveyard scene in the second act before we call it a night.” She busied herself with her notes, checking her plans against the schedule to make sure they were still on track.

Eric sat back down on the bench for the organ, fiddling with the keys. He startled when Antigone spoke to him.

“I didn't know you could play.”

“Ah,” he rubbed the back of his neck, sheepish, “Only a little. I took lessons when I was a child.”

“When you were a child? Not,” Antigone lowered her voice dramatically, “... a long time ago?”

“Ha! No.” Eric paused, tilting his head curiously, “I don't really say that so often, do I?”

“You do, actually. Jennifer says it makes you seem like a vampire,” Antigone said with a mock serious expression, “like you've just lived too long to be more specific.”

Eric laughed then, a real kind of laugh, kind of ugly, like Antigone hadn't heard from him before. “A vampire! I've never had anyone say that to me before!”

“I mean, obviously we've seen you when the sun's out, so it's not true.” Antigone leaned on the organ. “But Jennifer was so convinced of it.”

Eric hummed, then looked back down at his hands, still tinkering with the keys. “Oh, Antigone, I've been meaning to ask you…”

“Yes?” Antigone hoped she didn't sound as breathless as she felt.

“Do you know why Herbert stormed out that first day? He said something about Jesus Christ…?”

Superstar, yes.” Antigone nodded. “A few years back, they were putting it on, and the cast got a little drunk before the show, and well… The crucifixion was a little too realistic, I suppose. He was traumatised.”

Eric laughed again, loud and ugly; Antigone wanted to bottle that laugh and keep it for a bad day.

There was a beat of silence, and then Antigone went on, “We're doing well, I think? Or it's going better today?”

He nodded, “Yeah, definitely. The direction has helped, and we'll keep settling in the more we rehearse together. I can't wait to do these scenes with the cast—I think you're going to blow them away.”

Antigone flushed, heat creeping up the back of her neck. “Ohhhh, shut up, shut up, shut uuup! That's hardly true.”

Eric didn't disagree, but a wry smile sat on his face, making Antigone think that he wanted to. Still, he dropped it, and their conversation drifted away from the musical until Georgie called their attention again to run the graveyard scenes.

“Now, Antigone, like we talked about,” Georgie glanced over her notes before she went on. “You're torn between your feelings for Raoul and the Phantom, and you wish you could have your father's advice. This is wistful and longing. Eric, you're just trying to keep Christine on your side. You feel like you've already won her over, and you want her to stay there. Now, you head offstage, and we'll start with Antigone.”

Eric walked off to wait in the wings, and Antigone stood alone in the middle of the stage. “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” made her feel such a peculiar mixture of sadness and nostalgia for a relationship she never really had. Antigone hadn't been close to her parents, but she missed them anyway. And when she thought of Georgie’s relationship to her Gran, she understood a little better how Christine must feel in this moment—she hoped that would be enough to pull the song off correctly. It was lovely, and Antigone liked singing it. She wanted to do a good job in this role, dammit!

She tried to channel all those emotions into the song, and felt alright with her efforts. Georgie didn’t have too many notes for Antigone and Eric after they finished running the scene, and Antigone was left with the overall feeling that rehearsal had gone quite well. She had listened to Georgie, who wasn’t annoyed at her; she had talked to Eric, who she wasn’t annoyed with; and she had performed well. It was a good, satisfying sort of feeling, rather like when she had made the chocolates with Agatha Doyle—Antigone could look at this rehearsal and know she had done something.

Scene II: Prima Donna

Antigone had decided full cast rehearsals were exhausting. They could also be exhilarating, and it was wonderful to see everything coming together and everyone doing so well, but it was also a lot of sitting and waiting and worrying about her next scene, her next line. The end of the first act was going quite well, which was promising, because next week they would all be off book. Antigone waited backstage, watching as the rest of the cast worked on “Notes”. The Reverend was doing better, but he had a bad habit of wanting to make one of his typical declarations about uncertainty—“Gossip’s worth its weight in gold… unless it isn’t…”

Georgie sighed and cut the track off. “Reverend, you can’t add lines like that. There’s just not space in the song for it. Mayor, d’you think you can help keep the Reverend on track?” The reverend and the mayor smiled at each other a little goofily—months married and they were still in their honeymoon phase. It was sweet, even if Antigone found them a little too saccharine for the most part.

The mayor said, “I’ll do my best, Miss Crusoe.”

“Alright, let’s go again, then.” Georgie started “Notes” again, and they made it through quite well. Eric stood upstage on a platform, ominously declaring his desires for the next show and threatening what might happen if his wishes were not met. It was strange to hear someone who was so constantly affable sound so cold, cruel, but he did a good job.

Antigone held in a snort of laughter as Tanya as Carlotta angrily declared that the person who was sending the notes about Christine was, “the Viscount, her lover!” Roger Noggins was doing well enough as Raoul, and they had improved in their scenes together, but they still had absolutely no chemistry, which frustrated Georgie to no end.

The transition into “Prima Donna” went smoothly, and Antigone got ready to make her entrance. She was reluctant to prepare since she had such fun watching. Tanya did a fantastic job as Carlotta, and Bill, despite having no lines in the song, was an integral part of the blocking. His Piangi had the perfect amount of devoted support for the diva in her anger and her eventual acquiescence to the flattery of the theatre owners. The mayor and the reverend did a fantastic job of acting desperate to convince her to stay.

The next scene was one of Antigone’s favorites. She had almost no lines in the scene, and she was comfortable lurking silently. However, when they had first started rehearsing the scene, Georgie had said that she needed to have more presence. Since then, Antigone thought she’d gotten the hang of really engaging with Carlotta’s lines.  She also enjoyed this scene because she got to work directly with the hoodlums! They were a surprisingly competent ensemble of three. They did a very impressive job, along with Petunia Bloom, of filling all the background vocals and parts in the scene. The culminating event of the whole scene—in Antigone’s opinion at least—was the ballet that the hoodlums performed. It wasn’t actually a ballet, per se, but the dancing was quite good and fun to watch. 

Georgie hadn’t yet worked out what they could do to make Buquet’s body hang from the rafters, so for now there was no discernible reason as to why the ballet dissolved into chaos and Antigone escaped with Roger to the roof. Their whole scene was done off book, but everyone watching saw the same thing: Antigone’s frantic run to the roof was phenomenal, and Roger trying to keep up as he tried to understand her fear was spot on. But the whole performance of “All I Ask of You” fell flat—no one believed for a millisecond that these two were in love.

Georgie had changed the blocking for this scene so many times trying to help them, but it didn’t seem to matter what she did. Roger just couldn’t soften his gaze (“I’ve never bothered with love, Antigone, I’ve never really thought about it,” he had shrugged once) and Antigone had a hard time imagining that she found Roger appealing (“Of course I think you’re a fine person…” she had trailed off, and he had nodded). She had an even harder time finding the character of Raoul appealing. He just shows up and suddenly declares himself in love with Christine, while at the same time he dismisses her concerns and calls her experiences a dream? Antigone didn’t find that sort of person romantic at all—but Christine wanted to be saved, and Antigone had a hard time understanding that feeling too.

But they got through the scene, and then Eric sang his tragic reprise, and Georgie called a ten minute break before they ran through the first few scenes of the second act. “Masquerade” was quite wonderful—Jennifer, Georgie, and the hoodlums had worked out something fantastical with mirrors that made it seem as though they had many more people on stage than were actually in their cast, and it contributed quite nicely to the chaotic effect of the song. Antigone couldn’t wait for people to see it.

Scene III: All I Ask of You

Their first rehearsal off book was focusing heavily on the second act, because Georgie wanted to make sure they were all confident with it. “As long as we have a good beginnin’—which we will, because Baz and Roz and Wez are doin’ amazin’—and a real strong endin’, it’ll be fine if the middle is a little touch and go in places. Of course, I know you’ll all be amazin’, and I think having the ending down solidly will really help build your confidence.”

She said it so certainly that Antigone and the rest of the cast found themselves nodding along, ready to begin rehearsal. They took it slowly, with Georgie prompting anyone who misplaced a line, and restarting a few times when several people got off track. Even though they were doing well as a group, Antigone found herself growing more nervous. Without the safety of her libretto she realised just how much of the second act depended on her. They made it through the whole act, and then took a break to set up to run the first few scenes of the first act.

Antigone skulked her way to the back of the house, sitting in a dimly lit corner and hoping that no one would find her until the break was over and her entrance was actually approaching. She wasn’t in the prologue, so she thought they might not wonder after her for a while—Georgie had too many other things to think about, and Antigone had been dependable during rehearsals, so…

Antigone hummed the melody of “The Point of No Return”, thinking over her lines and maybe daydreaming just a little about—

“Hello.” Eric Chapman sat down next to her.

She nodded sharply once, but didn’t speak.

He peered at her curiously, “Antigone, are you alright?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Well,” he paused, “You just seemed a little stressed up there.”

“Ohhh,” Antigone groaned, “Did I mess it up that badly?”

“No, no, no!” Eric grasped one of her hands with both of his, “You were wonderful, as always, I just noticed that your shoulders were tense. You haven’t been that way since the first week of rehearsal.”

Antigone looked down at their hands, then out at the empty house. “I suppose I’ve just realised how much of this show really depends on me—and you as well of course, but you’re bri—well you’ve done this before—and that’s a lot of pressure. You know, two years ago a lot of people on this island thought I was dead? And I still think a lot of them don’t like me very much. I don’t want to mess this up. And Georgie, and Jennifer, and everyone, are working so hard. I don’t want to let them down.”

Eric didn’t respond and Antigone was filled with sudden regret, “Sorry, sorry, sorry, I’ve said too much, you don’t have to worry about me, I’m sure you have—”

“Antigone,” Eric interrupted gently, squeezing her hand—oh god, he was still holding her hand—“I don’t want to play this part with anyone but you. You’re a wonderful Christine, and you’ve been doing so well.”

God, she hoped the dim lighting would conceal the blush she felt on her neck. “That’s… only because Georgie is a good director, and the rest of the cast is good. They all make me seem better—you especially, you’re so damn believable as the Phantom.”

Eric grinned, leaning in closer. “It’s so easy to be a good Phantom with you, though. I had the worst time on Broadway—the woman playing Christine was lovely, but the director kept saying we had no chemistry. We were both good individually, but together, the scenes fell flat. We had to put so much work in, it was ridiculous.”

Antigone huffed, “That seems hard to believe.”

“It’s true though. Really, Antigone…” Eric trailed off, looking back up at the stage. He squeezed her hand again, and then made as if to stand up. “I suppose I’ve taken up enough of your break, I’ll let you sit in peace.”

He let go of her hand, but Antigone held on just long enough to stop him. “You could stay. I’m just going to brood, but…”

Eric settled back into his seat, and they fell into a comfortable silence.