Theresa, Chapter 44

| Nov 9, 2009
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The Story So Far (TGF subscribers can read earlier installments): Terri has had her SRS and she’s looking forward to her small role in a new Broadway play. However, she learns from her lawyer that her in-laws are going to court to seek custody of Jessie. It’s a civil suit in a state court, so if she and Jessie leave the state, there’ll be nothing the Norrises can do. Karen Lake cuts Terri’s and Jessie’s hair in unisex styles, and Daddy Terri, Mommy Karen, and little Billy get out of Terri’s apartment building just as Mrs. Norris is arriving with a process server. The Tulleys have invited Terri and Jessie to visit them in Greendale, and Karen takes them there. Terri quickly reconnects with the Tulleys. She expresses a need to earn a living, and John offers to check with local theater groups. Unfortunately, none are in need of actresses, and only one has an opening for a male actor — but it’s a good one.
I was a man again. Correction: I was disguised as a man, and I was gazing at the roadside as the Berkshire Players’ bus rumbled westward along the Massachusetts Turnpike. It was a blank gaze and I was seeing nothing. We were en route from a three-day gig in Springfield to a one-week run in Syracuse – the one in New York, not the much more inviting one in ancient Sicily. I felt exhausted by a combination of too many rehearsals, too many performances, and too little recovery time since my surgery. Jessie was tired, too, cuddling up to me as she slept in the seat next to mine. At least she could sleep. I couldn’t – I had just too many worries. For example, after a year as a full-time woman, could I maintain a male voice and mannerisms at all times? And why were Jessie and I on our way back to New York State? Was I insane?

I’d called Rudy Fletcher ten minutes after Uncle John gave me his phone number – it took me just that long to decide upon a new stage name for myself. Terence McAllen: I thought it had a nice ring to it.

I’d reached Mr. Fletcher at the Players’ business office in Northampton, about a thirty-mile drive from Greenfield. We discussed the various male and female roles I’d played and he seemed quite interested in me, but he wasn’t about to hire me sight unseen. I conferred with John, who said he could drive me to Northampton the next day. I made an appointment with Mr. Fletcher for ten o’clock the next morning.

I arrived for my interview in male garb and using a resurrected male voice. The interview went very well. I’d carefully studied Shrew the previous evening and I’d committed two of Petruchio’s most important scenes to memory. Mr. Fletcher called in his Katharina and we had at it. He was pleased and I was pleased, and so was Katharina.

Mr. Fletcher and I continued our discussion over lunch at a nearby restaurant. He told me that he’d been a student at Littlefield Academy about ten years before my time there, and he’d been Uncle John’s Juliet as a sophomore. Since the school had been all male both in his time and in mine, he must have assumed that I was male. He never asked and I never disabused him, although I certainly would have given him an honest answer if he’d asked me.

Back in his office, he offered me a four-month contract with the Players. I’d be playing Petruchio in Shrew and Benvolio in R&J. The Players had two employees who took care of cast members’ children during rehearsals and performances for a small fee. They could handle up to ten children; they had seven at the moment and there’d be a place for Jessie if I wished. The salary terms were less than enriching but more than satisfactory, and I signed up on the spot.


When I joined the company, the Berkshire Players were in the process of transitioning from their summer mode to their fall and winter mode. In their summer season, they performed a four-play repertory in college theatres in western Massachusetts and northwestern Connecticut. Most of the summer company were either dramatics teachers getting back on the boards for a few weeks or college students getting lots of backstage experience and a little on-stage time as well. The fall-winter company was primarily young, somewhat experienced actors (much like me) with a sprinkling of older, very experienced performers and one or two used-to-bes whose names helped to draw audiences. The fall-winter tour went anywhere in New England that bookings could be found.

As the summer group was running down, the fall-winter group was becoming active, rehearsing its two plays, Shrew and R&J. And rehearsing. And then a little rehearsing. Fourteen consecutive days of rehearsals, ten to twelve hours per day. From rehearsals, we went directly into a one-week run in Hartford, alternating our two plays.

I liked most of my fellow actors. They were friendly, helpful, and professional. Unfortunately, there were a few exceptions. Romeo and Juliet were played by a married couple, Eric Noble and Deborah Lee. They seemed fine when we began rehearsals, but it soon became apparent that they constituted two-thirds of a love triangle, with alcohol the dominant member of the trio. Their rehearsals became increasingly shoddy. I didn’t know why Rudy had hired them in the first place, or why he kept them. I suspected they would give us difficulties as the season went on.

Linda Jewell, the actress who played Katharina, presented me with another problem. My male disguise was apparently quite effective, and she began coming on to me in our second rehearsal. As much as I strive for on-stage rapport with my love interests, I had no desire to pursue anything offstage. My unresponsiveness to her overtures soon angered her, making her somewhat short-tempered with me. That was fine for the on-stage Petruchio-Katharina relationship, and I didn’t worry much about our lack of offstage cordiality.

Returning to my earlier, not entirely rhetorical question, was I insane? I decided we could get in and out of New York before the Norrises could possibly hear anything about it, let alone do anything about it. So I wasn’t insane? Was I?

We were opening our Syracuse run with Romeo and Juliet, and the men’s dressing room was full of guys getting into their costumes. As far as I could tell, everyone was there, with two notable exceptions – Rudy Fletcher, who had a non-speaking role in the ballroom scene, and Eric Noble, the actor playing Romeo. Curtain time was 45 minutes away. Well, that was Rudy’s problem – my principal concern was getting into my costume without revealing my breasts or my lack of a penis.

As I buttoned my doublet over the strident objections of my flattened-down bosom, I felt a tap on my shoulder and heard Rudy’s voice. “Come with me, Terence,” he said. “It’s urgent.” He led me out of the dressing room to a relatively quiet backstage office. “Let me come right to the point,” he said. “When John Tulley recommended you to me, he told me that you were a first-class actor who never forgot a role he’d played. You were entirely reliable and conscientious. There must have been a little hype there; otherwise, you’d be starring on Broadway instead of roaming the back woods with us, but if what he said was at least half-true, you should be fine.”

“Fine for what?”

“I fired Eric and Debbie half an hour ago.”

“You fired Romeo and Juliet?”

“I had to. They were too drunk to perform.”

“Who’s going to replace them? Or are you going to cancel the performance?”

“We’re almost sold out,” Rudy said, “so I’m not canceling anything. You and I are going to replace them.”

“You want me to do Romeo?”

“No; I’m Eric’s understudy, so I’ll do Romeo. You’re playing Juliet. Any problems?”

“What about Debbie’s understudy?” I asked.

“She’s not quite ready for Juliet. I was planning on bringing her along slowly this season, and I don’t want to throw her on the stage with just a few minutes’ notice. Any other problems?”

“Well… only my costumes, my makeup, and the fact that the curtain’s going up in thirty minutes.”

“The wardrobe mistress says she has costumes that will fit you. The makeup lady will make you her first priority. And I’m going out in front of the curtain in fifteen minutes to tell the audience that our advertised leads are indisposed. Understudies will be filling in for them, and the curtain will be going up about fifteen minutes late. Are you in?”

Of course I was. It would be wonderful to play Juliet again. “Just one thing, Rudy — I don’t want any publicity out of this. No ‘male plays Juliet’ stuff. If you’ll agree to that, I’ll do it?”

“No publicity! What kind of actor are you, anyway?” Rudy said with a smile. “Okay, I agree — you’ve got me over a barrel.”

“I’ll explain it to you later,” I said. “It’s much too long a story to go into now.”


Rudy led me out a rear exit and across a small parking lot to the costume and props van, where Alice Dunn, the wardrobe mistress, reigned supreme. “Oh, there you are,” she said to Rudy. “And it looks as if Terence has agreed to play Juliet.” She smiled at me. “I have your costumes here. Let’s get you into Juliet’s first dress so we can be sure these are going to fit you.”

As I hurriedly stripped off my doublet and breeches, Rudy departed and Alice rummaged around in a bin. “I have most of your measurements on file,” she said, “but I have no idea what size bra to give you. We’ll have to try a few until we get it right.” She waved a fistful of bras at me.

“36B,” I said.

“Are you sure? Oh, dear — I don’t seem to have any B-cup pads.”

“I don’t need pads,” I said, stripping off my athletic bandage. “I brought my own.”

Alice looked at me and did a classic double take. “So I see,” she said. “Are you planning to have a sex change?”

“No, thanks,” I said. “I’ve had one already. One’s enough.”


To the best of my knowledge, no one asked for a refund, so Rudy and I must have performed acceptably. The local newspapers more or less confirmed this, as they had only positive things to say in their reviews. They did note that the actors who were to have played Romeo and Juliet had left the company, requiring their understudies to perform on short notice. Rudy Fletcher and Elizabeth Furst (a name I’d pulled out of the air when Rudy asked me for a non-male stage name that he could announce to the audience) were both experienced actors and had given strong performances.

Nobody asked for their money back – that was good. No members of the press called to ask about the guy who called himself Elizabeth Furst, and that was even better.

To be continued

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Category: Fiction


About the Author ()

One of TGF's longest running authors, Hebe has been writing for TGF since the 1990s. With a focus on TG fiction she also has covered mythic crossdressing and recently has reported on TG events.

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