Paramour brings the magic of Cirque du Soleil to Broadway with astonishing acrobatics and a visually stunning show. Its leading lady, Ruby Lewis sparkles in her Broadway debut. She plays Indigo, a small-town actress who becomes an overnight sensation.
Joy: When did you realize that you wanted to be a performer and what were your influences growing up?
Ruby: I started performing when I was three and four. I think I started singing and my mom put me in dance class and I just never stopped doing it and I went into community theater and I just loved it. I had a lot of fun, it was like my favorite hobby. I grew up watching a lot of classic films – a lot of Judy Garland films and a lot of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and I loved the movies and I loved Broadway. I was from a small town in Kentucky and to me New York City was kind of like Oz. It was like a place that seemed so far away and unreachable, so I always felt really romantic about it. When I first came to New York, I was 11 or 12 and I just remember driving through the Lincoln Tunnel and seeing it for the first time and just being completely overwhelmed and I knew I wanted to to dedicate my life to try to do it.
Is that when you saw your first Broadway show?
Yes. My first show was Smokey Joe’s Cafe. I have the playbill framed in my dressing room and the tickets as a reminder.
Can you recall any memorable performance when you were young or any embarrassing moments?
I remember in the seventh grade I was really small so I played Annie. It was the high school production, so there was a lot of high school seniors and I just thought they were so cool. I specifically remember not feeling prepared, not feeling like I knew my lines and feeling really, really nervous before the show. I am pretty sure I got through it and then my sense of relief and accomplishment afterwards was so great, I felt so rewarded. When I took my bow, I think that’s when I got addicted to being in front of a live audience – working on something for a while and showing everyone what we had done. It was like a spiritual experience.
Cirque du Soleil – Paramour is such a unique Broadway production. What is the most challenging part about being a leading lady in this show?
Most challenging for me was not losing track of what I was singing or doing because of all the amazing things going on around me. That was hard. It never gets old and it never gets easier to watch a lot of the acrobatics. I still get nervous watching and excited watching and it’s trying to find the balance of being able to watch it, but not forgetting my line or my lyrics. It’s easy to get distracted. It’s the first time I felt like that in a show.
What’s your favorite part to watch?
I get to watch the Atherton twins fly from like the best seat in the house. It’s just really moving every time. I stand up there and I try to really not take it for granted, the fact that I get to watch them like that. I really like the western number. It’s so much fun. I finally get to sit down and watch the teeterboard act and that’s different every night and exciting every night and scary every night.
Do you get to do any of the stunts in the show?
I trained harness, so I do the harness drop at the end of the show. That is my biggest stunt. When we were creating the show, I was doing some acrobatics, kind of gymnastic tricks with some of the big guys. They were lifting me and throwing me around but someone was lifting me and turning me around and I had a thumb slip on my rib cage and it bruised my ribs so we had to cut that. So now all I do is the harness, which is good because it doesn’t really wear and tear on my body.
Paramour pays homage to the old Hollywood musicals. Were you a fan of those movies growing up?
Yes. My mom and dad met in the theater doing Music Man. My mom was in the show, my dad was running the sound and lights. So Music Man and Meet Me In St. Louis, all those other classic movie musicals we would watch in my house. I feel like those are bygone days. Even La La Land didn’t do it for me like those movies do. They make you feel so happy.
You have gone on tour with Broadway shows and you are now on Broadway. What is the difference and which one do you prefer?
Well, I did four tours and I really like touring because I love seeing the country and I like adapting to new environments, but I certainly don’t miss having to move every single Monday. On the one day off, you get up, you have to get to the bus, you have to get to the airport and it’s a full day of work even though you are not doing the show. Here it’s easy for me to feel like I am still on tour because the Lyric Theatre is big and renovated and it’s not like we are in a tiny little Broadway house. So sometimes I have to remind myself, “no, you are on Broadway now and you don’t have to travel on Monday and you get to go home and chill out.” It’s certainly nice. I live walking distance to the theater so I do my thing during the day. I get to do my show. It’s a dream. It’s what I always wanted. It’s so much fun.
You will be performing at Feinstein’s/54 Below next Monday in a benefit concert for ovarian cancer. What drew you to want to be part of that?
I was so excited to be asked to sing. Nick Cartell has is invaluable to our company as an understudy and I got to know him while doing some press down in New Orleans. I just think he has such a big heart and I know the cause is really dear to him and his wife, Christine and I told him anything that he needed I would be willing to do. Also just to perform at 54 Below is so awesome. I am going to sing one of my favorite songs ever that I audition with all the time. I booked a lot of gigs singing “Back To Before” from Ragtime and I don’t think I have actually sung it in public for an audience since I performed it in college. I am really looking forward to it.
What is the best advice that was ever given to you?
Don’t beat yourself up. It’s something I need to hear every day. My mom and all the people who are really close to me, even people who I am just getting to know, that’s the first thing that they notice about me, that I tend to be really hard on myself, my own worst critic. I feel like I do a lot better if I give myself a little bit of a break sometimes.
What’s your favorite thing about being in NYC?
Oh, I think the plethora of food options. I haven’t found a type of food that I don’t like so it’s really fun.