When I woke up Saturday morning, I never expected that I would have become a man by the end of the night.

In theatre, you have to be prepared for the unexpected. Putting on a play is nothing like making a movie. Movies get multiple takes to get it right. On stage you have one chance to nail it. And if something doesn’t go according to plan, you have to be quick on your feet and improvise. That’s what we did Saturday night during the Winder-Barrow High School’s final performance of the year, “Guys and Dolls.”

It was a big weekend for us. This was the first musical produced at WBHS in 10 years, and I was proud to be the assistant director. Saturday would also mark my last moment on the stage during my high school career. It was a bittersweet night.

Cast and crew needed to be at the theater at 5:30 to get costumes and make up done. By 6:30 we were getting very worried about one of our actors because he was still not at the theater. The stage manager, Taylor Van Dette, and I decided that if he wasn’t able to make it that I would play his part.

I called my parents and asked them if they could run to Goodwill and see if they could find a suit that would fit me because I might have to play a male. They dropped what they were doing and went to Goodwill. 10 minutes later I called them and told them that I was definitely going on.

I wish that I was there to see my parents at Goodwill. My dad told me after the show apparently they literally ran around Goodwill looking for stuff. “It was the fastest shopping spree your mother has ever done,” he said. Luckily they found a suit that seemed close to the right size and rushed to the check out. It was like the Goodwill employees could sense the urgency and rushed to check my parents out.

By 7 it was 30 minutes to show time and I had my gambler suit. I was already in my costume for the opening scene where I was a cowgirl, and I looked as much like a woman as you could get. I’m running around backstage studying my lines and letting my cast know that I would be the fill in.

The guys were a little apprehensive at first. They were glad to have a fill in, but I was a girl. In one scene I had a gun in my pocket in which one character has to feel. Well that pocket happened to be on my vest and my co-star was so worried about touching me there. I told him, “When I’m in character, I’m a man, do the same thing you did Friday. I’m no different.” Another co-star had to punch me, and he too was nervous and I also told him tonight I am a man, so fake the punch like normal.

Once I was done being the cowgirl, I ran backstage and quickly jumped into my gambler clothes, and started the long make up process. I never had a need to be a man, so I had never done my make up to look like one. I’m throwing make up on my face like I’m Picasso. “Do I look like a man yet?!” I kept asking anxiously. If only I could have taken some testosterone it would have made the transformation much quicker.

Finally I was done and looked, talked, and walked, like a man. I felt like a regular Drag King. I was ready for the stage. I knew all my lines, and my gamblers were always there to help me and be my moral support as I freaked out backstage.

My scene finally arrived, and I didn’t drop any lines. Success! Everyone was so surprised that I knew all the lines, and looked the part in only a few minutes. I told them that sometimes you have to be prepared for anything that comes your way.

The play was a success and many people are still talking about how much they enjoyed it both nights. I am so glad that I was able to be part of it. This was a very good way to end my high school drama career. I think being a last minute man was by far one of the greatest experiences of my life. I’m even tempted to have kids just so I can tell them the story.

I am so blessed to have had this last opportunity on stage and to go out with a bang.

My parents are so amazing for rushing to get my costume and thank you to the Goodwill employees who helped rush my parents through the check out. You guys are awesome.

And final thanks for the entire cast and crew of “Guys and Dolls,” thank you guys so much for being one of the best casts I have ever been a part of.

I am truly going to miss all the fun and excitement we had. Congratulations for being part of the best musical at WBHS in 10 years! I love all you guys and dolls!

Jessica Brown is the Barrow Journal’s photographer. You can reach her at jessica@picsbyjessica.com.

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