A Girl Called Len
Chapter 9: Last performance
Copyright© 2010 by Texrep
Len had to be at the theatre early in the evening, in order to do a quick run through with the Stage Manager. Gerard took me to one side.
"Danny, do you have a Veston de dîner, a dining suit?" I was puzzled for a moment then understood what he was asking.
"Do you mean a Dinner Jacket?"
"Oui! Yes that's it, a Dinner Jacket."
"Well I do, but I don't have it with me." Gerard nodded.
"Come with me." He took me down into the bowels of the theatre and led me to the Wardrobe. He quickly explained to the wardrobe mistress what was required and she eyed me professionally. Two minutes later she returned with a Dinner Jacket, trousers, cummerbund, black bow tie, and a dress shirt.
"Essayer ceux-ci." I looked blankly at Gerard.
"See if they fit." He said. I looked around for a changing room. I couldn't see one, and the wardrobe mistress was getting impatient.
"Rapidement, nous n'avons pas obtenu toute la journée, vite!" I needed no translation of that, the whole tone of her voice was sufficient. Red-faced I did as she asked. I only bothered with the trousers and jacket, if the jacket fitted the shirt would certainly do. I have to say her eye was good, they fitted perfectly. She put the clothes on a hanger, then folded the lot carefully and put them in a strong brown paper bag.
"Maintenant vous serez convenable habillé pour Lee ce soir." Gerard explained.
"We must have you properly dressed for Lee's last performance."
Gerard took me to his office and allowed me the privacy to change. The tie was not a clip on, and I had no idea how it was tied. I came out with the thing in my hand. Clothilde saw the problem and with a shake of her head took it from me and tied it within thirty seconds. I was ready. She took me to the balcony and I walked towards the table I had used before.
"Non, non." She cried. "Vous vous asseyez ici ce soir." She showed me to a table that was right against the wall where the balcony ended. As the balcony curved it actually gave me a much better view of the auditorium.
The evening progressed much as it had before. The meal served while the pre-cabaret entertainment was on the stage, and then at nine o' clock the lights dimmed and the M.C. picked up the microphone. I should have enjoyed the show, but I was on edge fearing for Len, that she may find this too emotional. There were some light-hearted moments, one when Janey was on stage, I recognised her, and was surprised when she looked straight at me and blew a kiss. That was astonishing as I was certain she couldn't have seen me with the lights shining in her eyes. It was later that I realised my placement was purposeful. The last act had taken their bows when Gerard came onstage.
"Ce soir, messieurs et mesdames nous avons un article supplémentaire pour notre spectacle. Lee est retourné pour une nuit seulement. S'il vous plaît accueillir, la belle Lee!" The waiter who spoke English stood behind me and whispered the translation.
"This evening, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have an additional act for our show. Lee has returned for one night only. Please welcome the beautiful Lee!"
There was another aspect to her dance tonight. It was poignancy, the last dance that Len would perform for her public. I didn't feel jealousy or anger as the chiffon slipped away, gradually revealing her nude self. She wasn't dancing to excite sexual passions, she was dancing to reveal the emotion that dance coupled with music could bring. In essence it was truth that was being made known, that through dance and music the human soul could soar and reveal itself in its purity and simplicity. My eyes had tears in them. Despite what I had thought possible, and suggested to Gerard, I knew that this was Len's last dance.
The finale of her performance brought the same stunned silence until one by one the audience hailed her dance, clapping, cheering and standing to give her an ovation. Suddenly the stage lights returned to brilliance, and the curtains which had closed on her opened again. Len was centre stage wearing a silk wrap. Gerard walked on and handed her the microphone. She stood perfectly still until the applause had ceased. She lifted the microphone to her lips and spoke.