A Night at Grand Theater

Amanda Tanguay
Jul 31 · 12 min read

Rosie had decided to sing “The Boy I Love Is Up in the Gallery,” which Kate told her was a crowd favorite. Rosie’s parents had taught it to her when she was very young and she knew every word by heart. Now knowing her mother was a former vaudeville star, it made sense that the nursery rhymes of her childhood were actually many of her mother’s performance pieces.

Kate was already backstage to meet her, and Jackson stood on the opposite side of the red curtain. Rosie could hear the noise of a large crowd, but she couldn’t see them.

“Welcome, folks! I’m Jackson P. Grand, and I thank you for coming to Grand Theater!” Jackson began. “Unfortunately, Brigid Sullivan is unable to perform tonight.” The crowd groaned in disappointment. “So, for your enjoyment,” continued Jackson, with his flair for theatrics, “we have a new, and very talented performer. Watch out Brigid, you’ve got yourself some competition! Let’s give a round of applause for…”

“Good luck, Rosie!” Kate whispered as she walked to an opening in the curtain.

“Kate and Brigid’s niece,” Jackson added, “Miss Rosaleen Sullivan McMurray!”

Rosie heard Kate’s heels walking toward the piano just before the eruption of a thunderous applause. As the curtain rose, the theater footlights brightly shined on Rosie’s face. The large crowd made it hard for Rosie to distinguish individual faces, but she was positive that Liam was there. She smiled in response to the loud cheers.

Kate struck the opening chord of the song, and Rosie started to sing, her clear voice piercing the din of the crowd:

“The boy I love is up in the gallery,
The boy I love is looking now at me,
There he is, can’t you see, waving his handkerchief,
As merry as a robin that sings on a tree.”

Rosie’s voice wavered slightly, probably due to the nervous feeling she had all over her body. Remembering the advice Kate had given her earlier, she thought of the time she sang for her parents in her red taffeta dress. As a little girl she was just so happy to sing, and it came naturally to her; like drawing did for her father and dressmaking did for her mother. All of a sudden, she felt a confidence she had never felt before. She sang again:

“If I were a Duchess and had a lot of money,
I’d give it to the boy that’s going to marry me,
But I haven’t got a penny, so we’ll live on love and kisses,
And be just as happy as the birds on the tree.”

A powerful, exciting surge crept over Rosie. Her voice was strong, unwavering, and her mind was focused for the last chorus:

“The boy I love is up in the gallery,
The boy I love is looking now at me,
There he is, can’t you see, waving his handkerchief,
As merry as a robin that sings on a tree.”

When she finished, the crowd was silent. Rosie stood still as a statue, unable to move. Kate started the applause, and soft claps were soon heard throughout the theater. Before long, the clapping grew into a loud roar. The audience was now on their feet! Rosie smiled a gracious smile and dipped into a low curtsy. At the front table, she saw Liam and his two friends clapping excitedly. Liam waved exuberantly in praise of Rosie’s performance. Rosie lightly touched the cameo on her neck; her mother would have been proud. The curtain started to fall and she curtsied again. When the curtain hit the stage, it hardly dampened the cheering from the audience. Every single cheer sent a wave of accomplishment through Rosie and her heart now jumped with every “Bravo!” and “Encore!”

Kate had rushed to her side, enveloping Rosie in a big hug. “Oh, Rosie! You remind me so much of Hanorah, and you were absolutely wonderful!”

“But, Kate, all I did was open my mouth and sing.” Rosie was incredulous that it had all just happened.

“Yes, but you sang from your heart. And that is what the audience is responding to,” said Kate. “You’re a regular vaudeville veteran! Quick, go take another curtsy.” Rosie could see a beaming, red-faced Jackson pulling up the curtain. The crowd was still standing, applauding, and cheering. Rosie curtsied again, waving daintily to the crowd.

“Blow a kiss, Rosie!” called a hoarse Brigid from the side of the stage. Rosie continued to blow ladylike kisses at the audience. Liam now caught Rosie’s eye. He applauded alongside his friends, but the smile on his face was different than those of his tablemates. Rosie felt herself blush again, and the imaginary butterflies reappeared in her stomach. Jackson dropped the curtain for the second time and Rosie curtsied at the last moment. At last, she ran offstage and into Brigid’s arms. “I know Kate is mad that I got out of bed, but I’m so glad I saw your incredible performance, Rosie. Maybe I should be sick more often.” Brigid winked.

“It was so exciting!” returned Rosie. “Just being up on that stage, it’s indescribable! The atmosphere, the lights, the audience, it was…it was just the best feeling in the whole world, Brigid.” Rosie could barely put the experience into words, but she felt a great happiness spread across her heart.

“We know exactly what you mean, Rosie, it’s why we do this night after night,” said Kate. “Now come, you must meet with your adoring fans; Liam couldn’t take his eyes off you.” Kate ushered Rosie through a corridor leading out to the lobby, Brigid trailing close behind. Kate paused. “To bed, sister!” she said with insistence, giving Brigid a stern look. With a pout, Brigid turned and headed back to their apartment.

Jackson, his cigar dangling out the side of his mouth, met them halfway. “Great job, Rosie. I think we may have found you a permanent job here at Grand Theater!”

“Thank you, Jackson,” said Rosie. She was so thrilled, she felt like skipping down the hall! Once in the lobby, Kate pushed open the gilded door to the auditorium.

“Go on, Rosie,” said Kate. “I have to make sure Brigid went straight to bed. She’s as stubborn as a mule.”

Rosie entered the auditorium, but stood in the back so she wouldn’t interrupt the program. Most of the men, and a few women, were playing cards, socializing, or watching the performance. The second act of the evening featured a magician in a magnificent top hat and tuxedo. His ultimate trick made it appear he was sawing his beautiful assistant in half with a sharp sword. Rosie had seen them practicing the trick before the show, and so she knew how the trick was performed. The audience, however, found it spellbinding.

At the end of the quick magic show, Rosie made her way to Liam’s table near the side door. Upon seeing Rosie, the three men stood up and removed their caps.

“Good evening, Rosie.” Liam spoke for all of them, emerging from around the table with his hands behind his back. He then handed her a beautiful bouquet of violets. Rosie was surprised and pleased, and she was sure Liam could see it in her eyes. Liam’s eyes flashed as their fingertips brushed, and a tingly feeling raced through Rosie. It felt like an eternity before she recovered her wits, and she knew she was blushing.

“You were great, Rosie!” imparted Tommy. “You’re as sensational and entertaining as your aunts!”

“Thanks, Tommy. It’s nice you could come.” Rosie was beaming from the excitement of her performance, and the fact she was finally meeting Liam’s friends.

“Come, join us.” Tommy made a gesture toward the table.

“I would be glad to,” she replied. Each of the men turned to find a chair from a nearby table, but only Liam succeeded in procuring one. He pulled the chair up next to his, motioning for Rosie to sit. Next to Tommy was Spencer, the blonde-haired, athletic young man from yesterday. And although he wasn’t tossing his baseball around, it sat at the table next to his hat. “Thank you all for coming. I had no idea I’d even be singing tonight! I hope you enjoyed the show, even without my Aunt Brigid.” Rosie had her hands folded as she leaned her elbows onto the table.

“You were fantastic, Wild Irish Rosie!” said Liam enthusiastically, his right arm now rested on the back of her chair.

“Thanks, Liam. I’m very glad you enjoyed it.” She looked him in the eye and smiled in sincerity. Rosie suddenly had a strange urge to get closer to him; to touch his face and feel the slight scruff on his cheeks. She was drawn to how perfectly symmetrical his face was, and that his eyes were such an attractive and unique shade. “Oh, I’m sorry! I haven’t formally met your friend, Spencer,” she said, remembering her manners, and turning to the table for an introduction.

“Oh, right!” Liam now put his elbows on the table, mirroring Rosie. “Spencer, tell Rosie a bit about yourself.”

“I’m Spencer Montgomery, born and raised in New York City. Liam, Tommy and I have been friends for years; the Three Musketeers, if you will.” Even in the dim auditorium, Rosie could see he was very tan from the sun. Rosie guessed that when he wasn’t selling newspapers, he was outside playing baseball.

“And you know me,” Tommy piped in. “Tommy Brown, Liam’s wonderful, talented, and incredibly smart cousin.” Tommy was a very skinny gentleman with long black hair parted down the middle. She hadn’t noticed before, but he wore a small pair of wire spectacles on the bridge of his nose.

“He’s humble too,” said Liam, with a dry sense of humor. Rosie laughed gaily at his remark.

“It’s nice to officially meet you both. Did you get enough to drink, or do you want me to get a waiter?” Rosie was glad to meet Liam’s closest companions, and excited to play hostess at the theater. Before the men could answer, she was interrupted by a tap on her shoulder.

“Miss Rosie, there’s a message for you in the front lobby,” asserted the tiny boy doorman whom she had met her first night in New York City.

“Thank you, Simon.” Rosie pushed her chair from the table, “Excuse me, I will only be a minute.” What sort of message could it be? Could Brigid’s condition be worse?

As she left the table, Spencer snickered. “And a minute will feel like forever to you, right Liam?” Rosie pretended she hadn’t heard the comment but secretly enjoyed the good-natured teasing Liam got from his friends in regards to her. She soon pulled open the heavy doors leading out into the dark lobby. The room was quiet, illuminated only by a few soft ceiling lights.

“Simon?” she called, but the tiny boy doorman must have rushed off to complete another errand.

“Hello, Rosie,” came a cold and recognizable voice from behind her.

“Alphonso!” Rosie turned with a jolt. “What are you doing here?”

Alphonso grinned slyly, tossing a quarter in the air and catching it again.

“Hey, Rosie,” came Ned’s voice behind her, “you were great tonight.” Another figure, Verne, appeared next to him.

“Well, thanks for coming,” she snapped. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m entertaining some of my friends.” As she tried to return to the auditorium, the two stepped in and blocked the entrance.

“But we have a message, Rosie,” Alphonso pouted maliciously. Everything about him: his voice, his look, his attitude, irritated Rosie to no end.

“What message?” asked Rosie, rolling her eyes in exasperation. Though appearing cool and unafraid, inside she was trembling like a leaf. She was so frightened, in fact, it took all her strength not to faint.

“We’ll be watching you, Rosie, everywhere you go,” Alphonso said. “Especially here, enjoying your shows at Grand Theater. And tell that Liam he’d better watch his back, got it?” Alphonso forcibly put his arms around her waist. Verne grabbed the violets she still held and threw them to the ground, stomping on them with a heavy black boot.

Rosie got her hands to Alphonso’s chest and pushed him away with a warning. “Touch me one more time and I’ll yell for help. Really, I will! They’ll all come running, and they’ll teach you a lesson you’ll never forget!”

Alphonso’s eyes appeared cold and unfazed. “Just try it, sugar pie.” Alphonso grabbed her face fiercely, and his left arm reached again around her waist. Rosie screamed out loudly. To punish her, Alphonso flung her violently against the auditorium doors. She hit the wall hard and collapsed to the floor. Verne laughed tauntingly as the three sauntered out the front door.

Liam was the first to appear in the lobby. He saw the violets, then Rosie, both crumpled on the floor. “Rosie! What happened?”

“Nothing of importance.” Rosie brushed curls out of her face. She wanted to stand to assure Liam that she was fine, but she felt slightly dizzy. She also didn’t wish to see a fight at the theater, so she refrained from telling Liam what really happened.

He knelt beside her and grabbed her hands. “I’m sorry, Rosie, I should have come with you.” Liam carefully lifted her off the floor with his strong arms. She leaned against him, recovering. Spencer and Tommy had run out into the street to look for the culprits, but Rosie knew they were probably long gone.

Tommy soon reappeared and took one quick look at Rosie. “It was that damn Alphonso, wasn’t it? Excuse my language, Rosie.” His glasses were askew from running.

“Yes, it was, Tommy, but I’m fine,” said Rosie. “They just gave me a scare, that’s all.” Rosie leaned heavily into Liam’s arms. As he held her close, one hand rubbed her back gently, the other brushed against the back of her neck. Rosie closed her eyes tightly. How she wished the night hadn’t taken such a turn for the worse! Spencer now returned, approaching Rosie and giving her a comforting pat on the back. Rosie clung to Liam, burying her face shamefully in his collar.

“Sorry, Rosie,” said Spencer, “they’re not around anymore. If they were, we would have gotten them.” He then began to pace the lobby in frustration.

“Don’t worry about it, Spencer. You don’t need to get in a fight for my sake.” Rosie looked up at Liam, one hand pressed to her forehead, the other wrapped over Liam’s shoulder. Liam, in his strong silence, had seemingly steadied her. “Thank you for offering your help, though.”

Liam clearly looked worried. “They need to know that this time they’ve gone too far. Are you sure you’re fine, Rosie?”

“Yes, thank you,” said Rosie, the initial shock wearing off. She kept her eyes downcast, still feeling guilty for causing so much trouble. Liam put his hand to her chin and lifted her head. His deep, expressive eyes shone with admiration. Without hesitation, he gave her a light kiss on her forehead, the kind of kiss that told her he cared for her. She blushed and placed her head on his shoulder. Her head was now reeling for a different reason; Liam had just kissed her!

“It’s getting late, and I should go and check on my aunt,” said Rosie, straightening herself up to talk to the newsboys. “I’m sure I’ll see you all again soon.”

“You were great tonight, Rosie.” Tommy touched her arm lightly.

“Bye, Rosie,” said Spencer with a tip of his hat. “We’ll see you again.”

“Why don’t you guys start walking, I’ll catch up in a bit,” said Liam, hinting for the two of his friends to leave the lobby so he could be alone with Rosie. They did so with knowing smiles on their faces. Once they were gone, Liam took Rosie’s hands. “I’m sorry about what happened tonight, I’ll right this wrong for you, I promise.”

Rosie blushed and instinctively leaned in towards Liam. Something about him made her want to be closer. He put his arm around her waist. Hesitantly, she took a tiny breath and reached up to kiss him; his lips were warm and soft. She wrapped her arms around his neck and tilted her head as he pulled her even closer. She held his neck gently as they kissed. Hours seemed to pass, although it lasted but a moment or two. Slowly, they pulled apart.

“Can I see you tomorrow, Rosie?” Liam asked. “If you come to the distribution center in the morning, I can show you the city.” It was as though someone lit a candle inside her, for she was suddenly burning with excitement.

“Of course,” she said, focusing on the conversation, and not just on the kissed they had shared. She did a good job of concealing it, but she was absolutely giddy with happiness. “I would be delighted to spend some more time with you.”

Liam kissed her again, lightly and quickly. Even though the light was dim, Rosie could swear she saw that Liam was blushing.

“I look forward to spending a lot of time with you,” said Liam. “Goodbye, Wild Irish Rosie. You were amazing tonight.” Liam then briskly opened the door and was gone.

“Goodnight, Liam,” she said. Her heart skipped a few beats and she realized it was the same feeling she felt when their fingertips touched. Rosie bent down and picked up one violet that hadn’t been crushed. She kissed it, and with a spring in her step, like Liam had in his before, she gaily ran the whole way back to her room.


Chapters

A New Chapter
The Streets of New York
Newsboys
The Replacement
A Night at Grand Theater
Newsboy for a Day
A Smart and Stylish Girl
Fireworks
Lucky
A Day at The Breakers
More Fireworks
An Empty Heart
Life Imitating Art
Corps-a-corps
Unexpected News
All Questions, No Answers
An Evening to Remember
The Fox
Lessons
The Return

Wild Irish Rosie

A new life on the vaudeville stage brings love and adventure in this historical romance by Amanda Tanguay.

Amanda Tanguay

Written by

Director. Choreographer. Actor. Writer. Mom.

Wild Irish Rosie

A new life on the vaudeville stage brings love and adventure in this historical romance by Amanda Tanguay.

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