Ruff landed purr-fect role with ‘Cats’ national tour
In the theatre business, it’s unusual for a college graduate to land her first job just weeks after earning her diploma; and, when that job is with the North American tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats,” it’s downright exceptional.
Elizabeth Ruff, a 2011 Musical Theatre alumna, auditioned for and was selected to join the ensemble of the “Cats” 30th anniversary North American tour. Originally cast as “Female Vocal Swing,” shortly into rehearsals she was promoted to the role of “Jellylorum.”
In addition, she became the understudy for “Grizabella,” the frail, elderly feline who sings the musical’s most famous number, “Memory.” This classic ballad has been performed by dozens of the world’s biggest recording artists, including Johnny Mathis, Barry Manilow and Barbara Streisand.
And on March 18, 2012, in Madison, Wisc., it was performed live for the first time by SUNY Fredonia’s Elizabeth Ruff, ’11.
She would be called upon three more times to perform the role during the coast-to-coast, 34-city tour across the U.S. and Canada.
“It was incredibly nerve wracking every single time I had to go on (to play Grizabella),” Ms. Ruff admits. “She’s only on stage for 12 minutes throughout the entire show, but it’s a very important 12 minutes. When it’s over, there’s definitely a sigh of relief, but also a magical moment where you say to yourself, ‘I really love my job.’”
Ruff recognizes how well-rounded her experiences at Fredonia were.
“You learn about every part of the business — not just acting and singing, but the scene shop, the costumes, the tech,” she recalls.
She believes that was a key factor in what set her apart during her audition and on tour.
“I could tell that the cast and directors appreciated that I knew a little bit about their world,” she says. “I don’t think I could have received the same level of education if I had gone to another school.
“The atmosphere that Fredonia creates is so nurturing,” she adds. “You become friends with your professors. I mean, they’re definitely teachers – but they don’t treat you like children or think of you as ‘young whippersnappers,’” she laughs. “They’re there to help you mature, find out who you want to be, and discover the mark you want to make in the world.”
Those who know Liz agree this is just the first of many “memories” she will create — because she is a Fredonian. Would you like to become one? Just visit our admissions section to learn more — and connect with a counselor who can help you rise to stardom too!