Gemma swallowed back the lump in her throat and pushed Sawyer from her mind. If she wanted to get out of here before Harper got home, she had to hurry, which meant that she didn’t have time to cry about Sawyer. Besides, she’d already cried over him plenty of times this summer, and it had done nothing to help him or herself.
The Paramount Theater was in the center of town, only a few blocks away from the Capri Public Library and Pearl’s Diner. It was a bit of a distance to walk, so she’d left early enough so that she’d have plenty of time to get there. Her car still wasn’t working, but Kirby would give her a ride after practice.
It was an old theater, built in the early 1900s. It’d been popular when it had first been built, but over time people had gradually lost interest. The Paramount closed and became run-down. Then about twenty years ago the town had started a revitalization project and began to fix it up.
Gemma’s mother had actually been part of the crew that restored the theater. Nathalie didn’t know anything really about building repair, and from what Gemma understood, Nathalie’s help had been limited to painting, cleaning, and fund-raising. But she’d worked very hard, and eventually the Paramount was returned to its former glory.
The marquee out front would light up at night. Right now it simply proclaimed THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, AUGUST 27 in all capital letters. Opening night was just over three weeks away, and then they’d do four shows over the course of one weekend. It wasn’t Broadway, but it was something.
A poster on the front of the building was done in an old playbill style. They’d put all the actors’ names on it. Thea was listed right below Aiden Crawford. They should technically share the top billing, since they played the leads Katherine and Petruchio, respectively, but Aiden had the bonus of being the eldest son of Mayor Crawford, the most prominent man in Capri.
Thea had joined the play first, and Gemma had followed at her suggestion. Thea’d apparently always loved the theater, but Gemma had mostly auditioned to keep close to Thea. Not only so she could find a way to reverse the curse, but to keep an eye on the sirens. Besides, it was good for Gemma to do something to keep herself busy.
Gemma walked past the ticket booth and the main doors, and she went around the side of the building to the door that led to the backstage area. Since she’d left so early, she was one of the first ones there, but that usually seemed to be the case.
Tom Wagner, the director, was already there, and so was Daniel, but he’d probably already been there for hours. Daniel had been tasked with re-creating the Italian Renaissance. Gemma knew that he had his work cut out for him, and she’d seen him laboring backstage on the beginnings of elaborate sets since she’d been cast in the play a week ago.
When she came in, Tom was sitting on the stage, his legs dangling over the edge, with a script lying next to him. His dark hair was slightly disheveled, and the top several buttons of his shirt were undone. In an abstract way, Gemma was aware that he was attractive, and his soft British accent definitely helped support that idea.
“Bianca.” Tom smiled widely when he saw Gemma. He insisted on calling everyone by their character’s name, but that was fine by Gemma. “You’re so prompt. I wonder if your costars will catch on to that.”
“I don’t think punctuality is contagious,” Gemma said.
He laughed. “No, I don’t suppose it is.”
She hopped up on the stage next to him—carefully, since she was wearing a skirt and didn’t want to reveal too much. Out before her were rows and rows of velvet seats. The walls had been made to appear as old brick, like the walls of a castle. The ceiling above them had been painted a dark blue like the early night sky, complete with small lights poking through for starlight.
“Are you having any problems with your lines?” Tom asked.
“None so far,” Gemma said. “But I haven’t memorized them all yet.”
“For shame,” he told her with a smirk. “By now I would’ve thought you’d memorized all the words in the play, not just yours.”
A clunking sound came from behind them, and Gemma looked back over her shoulder to see Daniel picking up a tool off the stage. She waved at him, but he only nodded and smiled, his hands full of tools and wood.
Within a few minutes the rest of the actors, along with the assistant director, began filtering in. Kirby was the next to arrive. He smiled at her, but he was careful to keep his distance.
Gemma told him that she didn’t think they should display any kind of public affection because she didn’t want the other actors to talk or Tom to get angry with them for not focusing enough. That was part of it, but it wasn’t the whole truth.
After what had happened with Sawyer, she didn’t want the sirens to know about any boys she was dating. She trusted Thea, but if Lexi found out about Kirby, she’d probably do something to him just to mess with her.
Gemma didn’t think she’d hurt him, not since Lexi, Penn, and Thea had all promised not to hurt anyone in Capri. But she knew that Lexi loved to play games, and Kirby didn’t need to deal with that.
Thea arrived a few minutes late, but the very last person to arrive was Aiden Crawford. He played the role of Petruchio, the boisterous gentleman intent on taming the shrew, Katherine, for his wife. He was a good match for the character, since he was confident bordering on cocky. He was foxy enough that most people seemed to overlook his arrogance.
Once everyone arrived, Tom got rehearsal under way. Gemma rehearsed a few scenes with Kirby, who played Lucentio, Bianca’s most valiant suitor. But when they got to a scene that was apparently a bit too complicated for Aiden to follow, Tom excused Gemma and Thea from the stage so he could focus on helping Aiden.
They sat in the middle of the theater, on the plush red velvet seats. Theoretically, they were supposed to be running lines together, but they were really just watching the boys scramble onstage as Aiden, Kirby, and another actor continued to botch their lines.
“This is the third time I’ve done The Taming of the Shrew,” Thea said. “But I’m usually Bianca. Penn was Katherine once, but she didn’t enjoy it that much. She prefers situations where she’s revered, not tamed.”
“That makes sense,” Gemma said. “Have you been in a lot of plays, then?”
“Hundreds. Probably thousands.” She leaned back farther in her seat. “I’m showing my age now, but television and radio, these are such new concepts. In the several millennia before that, the only way we had to entertain ourselves was with plays and stories.