A Latte Conversation with “Paramour’s” Ruby Lewis

By Amy Sapp

How do you take your coffee?
Now that we are moving into fall and there’s a chill in the air, I’m going to ween myself off of the cold, iced coffee. In the winter, I prefer a latte, and I like coconut milk and Splenda.

Is coffee part of your daily routine before a show?
No, it’s like whenever my body tells me I need it. Sometimes, that’s coffee, sometimes tea, sometimes just juice. I try to read what my body needs, but I know when I need coffee.

With our coffee order set, let’s talk about the new changes to Cirque du Soleil’s Paramour. As its leading lady, what can you tell us?
It was a surprise to all of us that we were going to close the show for a little bit and revamp it. But for me, it came at a really great time because I like to constantly be challenged, and I like change. So, I was ready to dive into some new material, and it was all brand new. We were presented at a table read with an entirely new book. Over the course of a week’s time, we tried to erase the old script in our mind and implement the new one. But meanwhile, we were still performing the old one onstage and rehearsing the new. It was truly a challenge, but like I said, I really enjoyed it. And I think it lends itself now to the Golden Age. It sounds a bit more Golden Age, and I think it heightens now by mirroring the acrobats with the story – making it more fluid.

What was the first thing that went through your head when the creative team said, “We are going to give you an entirely new book”? What was that like?
The first thought was, “Oh, boy. We have a lot of work ahead of us.” It took me back into the mindset of creation and previews all over again. Obviously, people love the show. The show is doing so well.  With the revamp, it’s just to be the best show on Broadway. So then, it’s feeling the pressure to be the leading lady in the best show on Broadway. It just brings back a lot of the pressure. I was met with a little bit of anxiety, but once we go into the rehearsal room and out of the table reads, it really became a collaborative process. We all felt on a level playing field and that nothing was going to go in until it was tried and true – even though we worked fast and furious – it worked. It was really cool for the company, a bonding experience.

You mentioned a bit about anxiety. How do you combat that?
I tend to be a little bit of an anxious person because I tend to be very hard on myself. I’m a perfectionist, in a way. I think it’s important to have a life outside of the show. For me, I keep track of everything on paper, and if I can see everything that is before me right there and be able to check things off, it helps me. On my list, I actually put “meditation,” or I’ll put “spa.”

Paramour is known for its intense acrobatics, like any Cirque du Soleil show. Have the physical demands gotten more extensive for you with the recent changes?
Not really. I’ve amped up a bit of my dancing. In every show that I’ve ever done, you try to do fresh things. In this show, it’s not so much freshening up as I want it to look polished and professional as possible. Some things during previews, we just threw them in there and never gave them a second thought. So now, we’ve given them time to polish everything.

Is it normal for a Cirque du Soleil show to pause, take a break, and revamp?
Oh, yeah. Cirque really invests in their product based off of their fans and the audience. It’s a testament to why they have so many long-running shows and why they have done so well.

Do you know if this has happened on Broadway before – a show taking a break after previews?
I’ve heard that it hasn’t. I know that certain shows go dark, and some shows don’t officially open, like Spider-Man. But to have opened and then really just taken what the audience has thought for three months and then taken the audience’s perspective and changed it based on that is pretty new to Broadway.

Do you interact a lot with the acrobats as a principal actor?
Backstage, there isn’t a divide at all. Within the ensemble dressing room, they’re all interspersed. And I try to get everyone into my dressing room by offering them drinks and snacks. Last night, I had a nice mix of people in my dressing room after the show, and we share stories. I’m not very well-traveled, so I like to talk to the acrobats about where they’ve been. I’ve toured the country, and they’ve toured the world!

Coffee or Tea?
Coffee

Coconut Milk or Soy Milk?
Coconut Milk

Splenda or Sugar?
Splenda

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