“I mean, do I look like a man? Do I?” Ru and I began to laugh at her rhetorical question, and the front auditorium of the theater echoed in response. We had arrived at the theater a half-hour earlier for her costume fitting for Union College’s latest production, In The Next Room [The Vibrator Play], and afterward spent time lounging around on a comfy couch as I interviewed her. Her joking ‘question’ was in response to the fact that in some of the biggest plays that she had been cast in thus far [in the play, A Servant of Two Masters and the musical, Sweeney Todd], she had been cast to play a man. A tough role for any actress to fulfill.
Despite what one may think, Ru Makoni is not the average “theater kid.” In fact, it is surprising that she has had time to participate in Union’s theater productions at all! She is a freshman here, majoring in Biochemistry/Pre-Med, and yet despite all of her work, she still manages to balance being apart of the play. When I asked her about how she managed to balance both the play and theater she responded, “You don’t realize how much time you’re putting into it because you’re having so much fun, but aside from having 3 hour rehearsals every day, you also have to take time out of your day to learn your lines, do character work, show up for fittings and extra practices. Basically your whole life becomes about the play you’re doing because there’s just so much going on.” Wow. The idea of someone doing so much with only 24 hours in the day is impressive.
I began to question Ru about the basics of her acting career thus far. When I asked her how she got into theater, she gave me a simple and funny answer. “Well, in elementary school we were forced to do plays, so I really had no choice. But in middle school, I realized [that] I really liked doing it, so I kept auditioning and doing them.” So far, Ru has been cast in a number of plays including Annie, Sweeney Todd, The Jungle Book, The Wizard of Oz, A Servant of Two Masters, and Alice in Wonderland. When I asked her which role she was most proud of she immediately sighed. “That’s a really hard one.” After waiting a bit for her to think, she responded, “I would say my role in Charlie’s Aunt. I played the role of a woman named Kitty, but initially I had decided not to be in the play because I thought that I had too much work to do. Then the person who was playing Kitty broke her leg, and I stepped in to play that role. I was just really proud of how fast I was able to learn everything and ready to go up and perform. I had basically only had three weeks.” As you can see, Ru is the superwoman of the theater world.
Finally, I asked Ru what some of her favorite plays and musicals were. Her eyes lit up at this question, and I could tell it was an easy one. “I love Mary Stuart. One of my favorite musicals is The Naked Boys…” She pauses and adds, “Don’t judge me.” After we had stopped laughing she finished her list. “And I am a sucker at heart for Wicked. Les Miserables too.” When asked which role she would act in if she could act in any role, she easily responded, “I would love to play Scar in The Lion King Broadway Musical just because he’s so evil and it’s almost comical.” And when answering the question of who her favorite actress was, she absolutely lit up. “Julia Andrews. Definitely. I just really like her because although she was in a few Disney movies, mainstream movies, and things she’s still able to act on screen with the grace of a theater actress. And I’ve also seen her perform (she performed in Mary Stuart) and she has such amazing stage presence. She gets on stage and you just identify with her.”
Lastly, I asked Ru to tell me about The Vibrator Play, Union College’s own production, and her role in it. She responded enthusiastically, “I play Elizabeth. She’s a wet nurse who has just lost her baby. And for this play, she’s like, the only serious character. Everyone else is a bit of a joke and really funny, but we just needed something to bring everything back down to earth. She’s a little bit in the shadows, but she’s normal, I promise. [And the actual play is] basically about the invention of the vibrator in Victorian times and how it was used as a way of curing hysteria. It’s just a funny approach to looking at it that way.” Ru and I both agreed that we’re excited for the show to be up and running.
In The Next Room [The Vibrator Play] will be in production next Wednesday, November 9th, and runs through Sunday, November 13th. [Wednesday through Saturday, the play will start at 7:30 PM, and on Sunday, it starts at 2 PM.] Come out and support it and the actresses, like Ru, who have spent a lot of time and put a lot of effort into the production! I’ll be there, so I hope to see you guys! Buy your tickets now!
And now you know! Thanks to Who Knew, Wednesdays!