You can’t do Spring Awakening without a youth movement and two recent Furman University graduates deliver in their first roles at The Warehouse Theatre! Kenzie Wynne and Clare Ruble perform as friends on stage in the musical, but the two were truly fast friends off of it as well. And…they are funny. Before they strike out towards other areas of the country, we were able to catch up with them for a few minutes to talk about the show and their bright future ahead.
WHT: Congratulations to both of you on your first show at The Warehouse. And to boot…you just graduated from Furman University! So great!
Both: Thank you so much!
Clare: Honestly we are just so beyond honored to be here among these amazing professionals.
WHT: And I know Kenzie grew up here…what about you, Clare?
Clare: I did, too!
WHT: Did the two of you know each other prior to attending Furman?
Clare: What’s crazy is my neighborhood backs up to Kenzie’s high school. We ran the same circuit growing up and never met! It’s insane.
Kenzie: I’m so glad Furman and theatre brought us together! I can’t imagine life without Clare Bear!
WHT: What’s one of the most valuable lessons you learned while you were in college?
Kenzie: Wow. How long can I talk in this interview? I guess the most applicable one, especially now with this new family, is to love loudly.
Clare: I would say to get involved as much as you can. There are so many resources available to students, especially at Furman. We were very lucky to go to such a great school.
WHT: What’s been your favorite part about the Spring Awakening experience thus far?
Kenzie: Really how long can I talk in this interview?
Clare: I think we can say it at the same time. Ready? One, two, three…
Both: THE PEOPLE!
Clare: I was so scared going into professional work that everyone was going to be a diva and avoid us because we were new to the industry. Boy was I wrong! Everyone welcomed us with open arms and are so much freaking fun!
Kenzie: They are family we have chosen. Could not be more grateful.
WHT: Your two characters sort of form the glue for all the teenage ladies in the show. You aren’t characters who are caught in turmoil or disaster, but you are the ones who are trying to help everyone. Talk to us a little bit about how you approached these kinds of characters?
Clare: I always joke that Thea has a very lovely home life and her parents are extremely loving because no one gets that in the show.
Kenzie: I think Anna is an orphan. But that could be because I kinda have a thing for red-headed orphans.
Clare: In my mind Thea is the ring leader of the ladies. She is always the one to tell the group where to go and she is rather bossy. The only sad thing is Thea has a massive crush on Melchior. Literally, all the ladies know about it and Wendla (Thea’s best friend) just steals her man. I think Thea is the ultimate victim in the show! (Clare laughs.)
Kenzie: Honestly, Thea and Anna balance each other out! Thea is the fearless leader. Anna is the compassionate nurturer. It’s a nice balance…and it feels just slightly reminiscent of real life. Wouldn’t ya say so, Bear?
Clare: Beyond true. In our audition, Jenna looked at Kenzie and me and told us, “Thea speaks her mind and is the leader of the group. Anna is the loving friend who is always there. Can you try that for me?” And Kenz and I looked at each other and were like, “Yep. Most definitely.”
WHT: Did Frank Wedekind’s original play influence your choices for this show?
Clare: Honestly, no. And I didn’t know much about the musical either going into general auditions. I knew the song Mama Who Bore Me and that’s it. All I knew is that it was one of Kenzie’s favorite plays and musicals of all time.
Kenzie: Yes, it did! Not to say it influenced my particular character…in fact, there is no Anna in the play, but it helped me come to some conclusions about situations that happen in the show and why they happen. I know this answer is so vague, but I don’t want to give anything away! I will say this, the play is darker, and more black and white about the crap these kids go through and endure. Whereas I think the lines are more blurred in the musical. Both are important, but I think the musical leaves more room for interpretation and imagination which, for me, makes it all a little more human. I love both infinitely. It’s a story Greenville may not be ready for, but it’s a story Greenville and places like it desperately need.
WHT: This set is massive. But…our space is so intimate. What’s that like for this show?
Clare: We were both incredibly lucky to work with set designer Will Lowry and lighting designer Kevin Frazier before. They designed two shows for us while we were in college, so we’ve gotten to play on the playgrounds they create before! It’s amazing that this show allows us to engage with the audience so we can see them from the minute we step on stage. Even though we are on such a large stage, we are able to be right there with the audience the whole time.
Kenzie: YES, CLARE! Honestly, I just feel like a rockstar and it is every little girl’s dream to roll around on grates with cool under-lighting, climb on a ladder and dance for people that are looking at you from the lip of the stage!
WHT: Do you ever want to run and dive off into the audience?
Clare: Yes. All the time. Especially after Totally Fucked.
Kenzie: Yes, I love our audiences! I would love to dive into their arms!
WHT: Other than restraining your stage diving, what’s been the greatest challenge during this process?
Kenzie: The thing is, we are the new kids on the block, so I was a bit nervous about being able to keep up with so much talent on the stage. But everyone has been so supportive and encouraging and it’s been such a team effort that the greatest challenge ended up feeling more like a huge blessing.
Clare: Singing during Totally Fucked is the biggest challenge during the show. God bless Ray and Drew who have to do a scene immediately after it. The harmonies in general were pretty difficult to learn. The chords are very tight and dissonant so even though they sounded wrong learning them, they were right. Thank goodness for Cat and Eliana. They both are so good at the harmonies and I am usually very lucky to have them double my part.
WHT: What was one thing director Jenna Tamisiea said to you or the cast that really had an impact on your work?
Clare: As Drew said in his interview, “stay sensitive” was a beautiful reminder for this work. She is such an amazing director to work with. She allows her actors to collaborate and truly take ownership of the show. I think that is why this musical is so successful…we each have our moments to shine and tell the story because we made it as an ensemble.
Kenzie: “This is a show about children needing to be heard.” And “theatre isn’t about the day that nothing happened” and pretty much everything that came out of her mouth rocked my world.
WHT: Good stuff. We dig her, too. This cast seems to truly enjoy each other and I know that you’ve had a lot of fun being together and working on this show. Despite the darker edges of this musical, is there something fun that’s stuck out to you about the process?
Clare: This cast makes me laugh so much. I have had way too many laughing attacks…sometimes on stage. One time I messed up a spin in Touch Me and Drew and I were laughing so hard we had to turn upstage and couldn’t sing. Our music director, Janice, also started laughing because she saw us laughing. Laura also loves to try and make me laugh before the scene of Dark I Know Well. One day my dress broke, so I had to have a replacement dress for the scene and Laura didn’t get to see the dress before we went on so she started busting out laughing when she saw me. Honestly the amount of joy we have both on stage and off is the greatest.
Kenzie: Ben…you know, the genius playing Moritz…is always with me backstage before the very beginning and we always joke around and goof off. The gals in the dressing room like to dance together. Pretty much we are constantly having a good time together. It’s not hard with these humans. (Kenzie draws a smile emoji here.)
WHT: I asked your castmate Drew this question the other day and I’d love to know what the two of you think…do you enjoy musicals or straight plays more as a performer?
Clare: Such a tricky question. I love them both so much. Maybe my cop out is to say depends on the material.
Kenzie: I do think that music affects the soul unlike anything else. But there have been plays that have struck such an intense chord as well. I’ll agree with Clare, it depends on the material and the character!
WHT: You are about to begin your post-academic life. We have a lot of readers who are just beginning their college journey. As you reflect back on the last four years at Furman, any advice for them?
Clare: Find one friend that you can confide everything in. Someone you truly, truly trust. Someone that if you are frustrated or are having an off day you can say things to and the information will not go anywhere. I am beyond lucky to have Kenzie for that. She is the greatest friend and I am so grateful that we were able to begin our professional careers together.
Kenzie: Wowza. My heart. Love you, Bear. And yes, find your person, or your people and pour into them. And do something that scares you.
WHT: Any question you did not get asked that you want to be asked?
Clare: I don’t think it can be said enough how grateful we are to be here doing this show. We are so so lucky. Thank you to The Warehouse for being such a welcoming home. Also shoutout to the crew. Especially those who have to deal with us crazy actors backstage. They are amazing. Catherine, Louise, Dolly, and Kira get extra shoutouts for dealing with my “hat drama.” Also the band cannot go unrecognized. Man, are they good.
Kenzie: This company is unlike anything I have ever experienced. And to be able to share in all of this with my person? I’m a lucky girl.
WHT: Where are you two headed next?
Clare: I will be starting in Minnesota with the National Theatre for Children’s tour in September!
Kenzie: I’ll be doing Romeo and Juliet with the Guerrilla Shakespeare Company at the end of this summer and then I’m off to England in September to get my MFA in Acting at a drama school called East 15. It’s a two year program and I’m thrilled to be hopping the pond. Just wish I could take all of these people with me.
Catch these two delightful, young artists in Spring Awakening, running until June 10th!