My Friend, the Zombie

Announcing the Cast List

Large group of students had gathered in the main school hallway, waiting for the cast list for the newest play produced in Hollywood Arts – "Uptown Downtown" by Sophia Michele. It wasn't that often that the students at HA got to do a contemporary plays. Everybody was exited. Robbie was pacing nervously, while Rex was making fun of him. Tori and Beck stood by the lockers engaged in a small talk that barely registered in their minds. They were too nervous for something more. For Tori this was her first play since she had come in Hollywood Arts. Beck had auditioned for the lead. He was a little nervous because although he was pretty confident in his acting abilities, the role called for him to sing. It was the singing that made him nervous. He knew that it wasn't his strongest suite and doing mediocre job on the stage was unthinkable for him. He was distracted from this line of thought by Lane, who was hanging the cast list on the bulletin board. Strangely enough Robbie was the first to get to the board.

"Yes, I got it. I get to be the rich guy." He exclaimed excitedly. "You of course got the lead Beck." A small smile showed that despite his confidence Beck was still relieved to hear the news. He congratulated Robbie. He always thought that the boy lacked confidence and hopefully a good performance in an important role like that would help him build it up.

"Congrats guys. What did I get?" Tori impatiently tried to peek at the list. Robbie looked back at the list and replied with exited delight.

"You got the lead Tori! You are playing Penny!" Beck looked at Tori with some surprise. To get the lead role on your first audition was quite an accomplishment. He remembered her audition; it may have lacked the polish of more experienced students, but her drive and raw talent more than compensated for it. She nailed the song and her Penny showed the right amount of naiveté, vulnerability and strength.

"I did, I am? That's fantastic!" She was exited, but clearly still unable to really believe it. "I didn't expect to get the lead." The face of the pretty brunette was showing a mix of excitement and apprehension. Beck took her by the arm and turned her to face him.

"Congratulations Tori." He smiled warmly at her, glad that was getting the opportunity to work with her on stage, outside of Sikowitz's class.

"Thanks." For a moment his eyes seemed to calm her, but then anxiety gripped her again. "Guys, how am I going to pull it off? I've never been in a play, much less in a leading role. Penny has five songs!" Tori was beginning to sound panicked. She had hoped to dip her toe with some smaller role, but now found herself plunged in the deep end with the lead.

"Don't worry Tori, I… We'll help you." Robbie told her, trying to sound confident.

"Ha! And who's going to help you?" Rex's sarcastic voice interjected.

"Do you have to always undermine me, Rex?" The curly haired boy complained to his alter ego. They got into one of their strange fights, forgetting everyone around them. Beck put his hand on her shoulder to get her attention.

"Relax Tori. If the director has chosen you, that means he is confident in your ability to do well. If you have any questions you can always ask the director, André, or me." His calm confident tone seemed to have the desired effect on her. Beautiful smile again adorned her face.

"It just seems such a daunting task. What if I can't do it?" She was grateful for his words, but seemed still skeptical of her chances of success.

"I've seen you play in Sikowitz's class. You learn fast and you are definitely willing to put all the necessary effort to succeed. I'm sure you'll be an excellent Penny."

"Thanks Beck, it's a relief to know that there will be friendly faces around when I try to do this." Invigorated she left for her next class with Robbie. Beck checked the list to see what role Jade had gotten. It was one of the supporting roles, one of Penny's friends. He caught up with his girlfriend just as she was leaving her history class.

"Did you see the cast list?" She began abruptly, before he could even give her a kiss on the cheek. "Who is going to be the rich guy?" Beck draped his hand over her shoulder and they both headed slowly to the Asphalt Café.

"Robbie." The news was met with a displeased pursing of her crimson lips.

"Playing being attracted to him is going to be a drag. At least we'll have some nice, if sappy, scenes together." He was hoping for a more negative reaction so it would soften the blow.

"You won't have to do it." Beck said trying to sound nonchalantly.

"What do you mean?" Jade asked suspicion clear in her voice.

"You are not going to play Penny. You are playing one of her friends." She stopped abruptly turning to face him.

"Who got the part? I know that she is not typical role for me, but I was damn good at the audition." He could see the anger rising in her.

"Tori got then part." Beck made a step back, waiting for the explosion.

"Vega, what does she know about acting?" Her tone was surprisingly calm, if dismissive. "I was just beginning to tolerate her." She turned again and continued toward the Asphalt Café.

"Now, now Jade, don't do anything hasty." He caught up with her, still not completely believing how easy she took the news. "Probably they wanted someone who could project some vulnerability and innocence."

"I won't, but I was going to be much better Penny than Vega." They got to lunch, where Beck bought her a mochachino to celebrate his new role.