December 24, 2010
Today was D-Day – or N-Day? Nutcracker Day!
As you can probably imagine, it’s been a frantic week of preparations, all the way up to tonight.
At the last minute (well, the last hour anyway) I got into a big argument with overly-careful Edward, who overheard my thoughts of where to set up the spotlights. Can you have a ballet show without spotlights? I think not. Edward, on the other hand, was inclined to disagree – citing the need to keep a low profile as his only reason.
I shot back that nobody would see the spotlights unless they were in the audience or a helicopter flying by, and gee, wouldn’t it be nice if I was psychic and could be 100% sure that wouldn’t happen?
Anyway, after he bowed to my superior argument, we ran into another little snafu. Now, I thought the lovely, sparkly snow was the perfect background for our theater – but Bella pointed out that Charlie, Billy, Sue, and the other (very few) humans would probably freeze to death during the show. Oops!
So we had to get creative: Space heaters, the type nicer restaurants place at their outdoor tables, had to be obtained in record time – but the snow! It would melt! The audience would be floating in a pool of ice-water that would slowly freeze around them! (No, I didn’t have a vision of this, but I described it so vividly and frantically that my brothers immediately jumped forward as volunteer snow-shovelers.)
Once Emmett, Edward, Jasper, Carlisle and Jacob had the chairs removed, the snow shoveled, and the chairs replaced, I was able to take a good hard look at the seating and make a few executive decisions. Ignoring the festive groans and muttered complaints of the slave boys, I dictated created a masterpiece of snow sculpting, with sparkling hills surrounding the open space where the audience could now sit without freezing to death. Then, we sprinkled salt on the grass to cut down on the slip factor (despite Edward’s grouchy remarks about how that only works on cement, not grass). Then, I placed the space heaters strategically along the outsides of the seating area, where the humans would be sitting.
This done, I paused to double-check tonight’s future. As before, I saw very little, only disjointed bits and pieces – I really need to hurry up and get past my mental block with the wolves! – but at least I didn’t see any massive emergencies coming up.
With explicit instructions on how to lay down the pink carpet in the aisle at the right time, and where Emmett and Carlisle were to seat each of the guests when they arrived, I departed to Wardrobe.
Where I found my two sisters, my niece, and my mother giggling hysterically, obviously consumed by nerves.
“Ladies! LADIES!” I chided, clapping my hands to get their attention. The fact that I had hopped onto our makeshift vanity’s countertop seemed to help, too. The four of them instantly sobered, looking up at me with sickly smiles.
“There’s nothing to be nervous about!” I reminded them incredulously, shaking my head in wonder. “It’s not like any of us could forget anything, and anyway it’s just a bunch of werewolves and some family out there – what’s eating you?” I snapped my teeth at Ness with a fake-scary growl as I spoke, eliciting a tentative giggle.
Rosalie sniffed and rolled her eyes – she was obviously above stage fright, despite the symptoms I saw in her – but the other girls still looked nervous. I tsk’ed reprovingly, but there was no more time for pep talks. We had work to do!
Hair and makeup were crucial; there would be so many costume changes, the hair and face look had to go with each one. Since Jasper had flat-out refused to wear a little stage makeup (booooo!), it was just us girls backstage, in a steamy little shed filled with curling irons, blow dryers, hairspray and cosmetics.
After all that, though, when it came time to do Renesmee’s look – we just couldn’t put makeup on her. We just couldn’t! She could not be improved upon, and none of us even wanted to try. So I had to be content with putting massive, feathery fake eyelashes on myself, Rose, Esme and Bella, along with blush (which Ness didn’t need anyway) and, of course, lipstick.
And a bit of glitter, since the spotlights wouldn’t make our skin sparkle, and it would look pretty with the snow.
Oh, and manicures – the softest pink-white shimmer, to add to the angelic effect.
A few rhinestones here and there – a couple of spritzes of sparkly hairspray – and we were all set. I could hear the guests arriving – well, all of us could hear them. From what I could tell, Emmett was doing too much chatting and not enough ushering. I gestured silently to my co-dancers, and we all tiptoed onstage to peek out from around the curtains.
From the stage, the amphitheater we had created looked incredible (if I do say so myself). The snow was sparkling away obligingly, as if it wanted to contribute to the splendor; the fairy lights, recycled from several events now, formed lines overhead that illuminated the rows of seats and bounced more light off the snow; the boys had followed my instructions with the pink carpet in the aisle, and the plush velvet looked inviting, with only a few sets of slushy footprints marring it so far; and the few guests who were already seated (the humans, taking advantage of the space heaters), looked appropriately awed and excited.
Edward glanced over at us and winked, so we drew back from the curtain, giggling.
And then it was showtime! Edward ascended the few steps to the little platform we’d built for his piano behind the audience; a microphone amplified the music, and from where he sat, he had a good view of the stage. Next to him, Colin fiddled with a tripod, while a few other wolf-boys moved around the audience, looking for prime videography positions.
Emmett appeared at the spotlight controls and Jacob and Embry popped up onstage to fulfil their roles of stagehands. Everything was ready, and an expectant hush fell over the audience as Carlisle gracefully leapt onstage for the introductory speech.
“Welcome, dear friends,” he began warmly. Next to me, Esme gave a little contented sigh of pride.
“On behalf of my family, I want to thank you all for joining us on this beautiful Christmas Eve. Many of you know that Renesmee has developed quite a talent for ballet, and we are delighted to present her to you as the prima ballerina of this traditional ballet, untraditionally reworked, Cullen style.”
A ripple of laughter went through the audience; impulsively, I grabbed Nessie’s hand and squeezed it in excitement in the one tenth of a second before the show began.
Carlisle was correct – it was quite a nontraditional adaptation of the Nutcracker. We just didn’t have enough dancers to do it the normal way, so I cut down the cast as much as possible, and the rest depended on costume changes for everyone but Renesmee, who played Clara the whole way through of course.
Edward played beautifully, and everyone hit their spots with impeccable timing. Ness’s face glowed with joy, her cheeks a darker shade of rose than usual, obviously loving every moment of her performance; she was a born star! It was hard to keep my eyes off her, and easy to keep a smile on my face as we danced.
I did hear a bit of snarky laughter when Jasper bounded on stage in his tights, but one quick glance from Carlisle and the audience resumed its silent state. Personally, I thought Jazz looked incredibly handsome and dignified – his glorious face was set in a solemn expression (as I warned him in advance that I would not be amused if he rolled his eyes and shrugged at the audience), and he danced gracefully, but in a manly, masculine way. I may never have found him so attractive in all our 50+ years together!!
It was amazing and gratifying to me that the boys involved as stagehands and lighting director did not make a single mistake – I had tried to prepare myself for a less-than-perfect performance from them, but they did great! When the mice rushed onstage to eat the gingerbread “men” (us in costumes from those Shrek movies), there was no shuffling of feet or embarrassed laughter to ruin the moment. I’ll have to thank Jacob, Embry, Seth and Quil for that later.
There was no intermission. We did the whole show all the way through, and Claire’s “ooh”s and “aahh”s were so, so satisfying, because we all worked so hard on the set and the costumes and everything, and it all looked PERFECT! I glanced at her at one point; her eyes were huge and round, despite the late hour, and she looked like she was in heaven. I’m glad there was at least one child in the audience to fully enjoy the magic of the show.
All good things must come to an end, though, and the ballet was no exception. After the final waltz, and the crowning of Clara and the Nutcracker Prince, the curtain fell for the last time, amidst applause, cheers, and a standing ovation. When the curtain rose again, the noise increased – and it wasn’t just those volume-control-challenged wolves either, Charlie was cheering just as loud as everyone else!
I noticed Edward slip away from his piano, and Emmett step away from the lights, but thought nothing of it while Jacob acted as VJ, announcing each member of the cast to come and take a bow. Bella’s face shone with joy as the crowd applauded her daughter; I almost worried her face was going to split in half from that huge smile – until I realized I was pretty much a mirror image!
Suddenly, Carlisle, Edward, Emmett, Jasper, and Charlie appeared and lined up at the foot of the stage, each holding a massive bouquet of parrot tulips, red-dipped white blooms tied in red ribbons except for the arrangement of palest pink roses which Charlie handed to Renesmee. The rest of us women received our tulips from our men, who each bowed deeply before us before handing them over. I can’t wait to find out whose idea that was – it was SO awesome! I’ll be their slave for life! (And that’s quite a long time for us!)
Finally, the camera flashes slowed down, and people began milling around, chatting to each other. A couple of wolf-boys (I won’t name names, but let’s just say it was Olin-cay and Rady-bay) were trying to convince everyone to go sledding on the carefully arranged snow mounds, but then Esme stepped back onto the stage and daintily ahemmed to get everyone’s attention.
“As a Christmas Eve treat, we have refreshments waiting back at the house,” she announced, earning more cheers from the boys, who immediately took off. (Which, incidentally, provided an answer to that age-old riddle: How do you move a huge crowd of boisterous werewolves? … Promise them food!)
Somehow, I managed to return to the house while simultaneously grinning madly, hugging Jasper tight, and cradling my bouquet of tulips in one arm. I guess it helped that he carried me the whole way there, whispering praise into my ear the whole time (very distracting)!
The after-party was a blur of happy faces and more camera flashes. I know Jasper loved it; the emotional climate must have been like heaven to him, what with Charlie, Bella, Edward, and the rest of us feeling so glad and proud for Renesmee, and everyone else just so happy to be there together.
Tomorrow, of course, is Christmas; I just don’t see how it could possibly top Christmas Eve this year! I’ll write to let you know if it does.