Eric Ruiz is currently in The Phantom of the Opera on Tour. He is in the ensemble, and understudies the roles of "The Phantom," and "Raoul" (Both which he has played several times while on the road). Eric talks about what it is like playing two uniquely different characters, his time with The Phantom Of The Opera on Tour, what the touring process is like, some advice to theatre people, and more!
What has it been like to be apart of The Phantom of the Opera on Tour for the past year?
Incredible, challenging, rewarding
What has been your favorite moment while on tour?
I wouldn't say I have a specific moment from being out here, rather a collection of personal moments with very specific friends that make up the memories from the beginning.
Which was your favorite city or theatre to perform the show in?
Philadelphia's theater is absolutely gorgeous: The Academy Of Music
You sometimes cover the roles of the Phantom, and Raoul, is there one that is your favorite? How do you remember all the lines?
Remembering the lines has been challenging, especially in the Mausoleum. It's not so much remembering the lines, as it is knowing the right line for the right character at the right time, and in a scene where its A-B-A-B-A between The Phantom and Raoul, yes - that requires super focus for me, but also a super relaxation into knowing that I KNOW my specific part that night, and I know what I'd say in those scenes with the intentions of those characters - their differences help keep me on track.
What is an average travel day like for you? Have you guys ever been late to a show venue because of traffic, or a plane delay? Is there something you do to keep yourself grounded, and focused?
I try to make travel days as stress free as possible and we usually travel with plenty of time to arrive at the next city. There has never been a time where we've had to open late, or postpone/cancel a show, no.
As far as keeping myself grounded and focused, for each of the roles and my ensemble track I have a file for notes which is updated in the cloud and then sent to all my devices, where I can go and review the latest entries, know who they were from and in regards to which performance.
You are constantly traveling around the country, how do you stay so healthy with the changing climates?
It's tough. I honestly think we get lucky most of the time. I think traveling so much your body builds up a certain immunity to keeping itself healthy, especially during times of extreme exhaustion.
What are some pre show rituals you do before a show?
I'm not really big on those. Read my notes, get in my zone. Check my costume and props pre-sets. Get quiet. Make it happen.
What is one thing you cannot live without in your dressing room?
My costumes. iPhone.
What have you learned about yourself as a performer while being a part of Phantom?
That I'm capable of handling and accomplishing a lot more than I would have EVER given myself credit for.
Do you think "The Phantom" is really a "bad" character, or do you feel that he is misunderstood and just wants to be loved like the rest of us?
I don't think the Phantom knows that he is as bad as he is perceived. Someone like that who has hid themselves away and been in the shadows for their entire life would also not be privy to societal norms. Rather, I see the Phantom and his actions as if a primal animal, acting on instincts of "fight or flight" and ultimately "King Of The Food Chain" among the different counterparts that he must endure, taking up space in what he truly believes to be His Kingdom. There has to be some amount of delusion there, yet I've also learned that such displays of character cannot be shown to the audience. As an actor, we have the job of interpreting "said emotional/mental structure" into something tangible that the audience can experience in a way they might not have expected... and that's just the edge of the artistry; the craft is incredibly vast.
Any plans for Broadway in the future, is there a specific show you would love to be in?
If being this busy has taught me one thing, its that I really don't need to make plans anymore. I don't even know where I'm staying in the next city (I have it written down in a file) until the night before we arrive there - why do I need that information any sooner? I used to do that all the time, and still do on certain things - OVERTHINK and make myself crazy. It's just not fun anymore. One thing at a time, in fact - sometimes that's how I do the show - one scene at a time; I don't think further ahead than that and I'm learning that it works a lot better in real life that way, too.
As for Broadway: of course! I'd love to originate a role. Let's do Jurassic Park - The Musical! No, actually, they just announced development for The Devil Wears Prada - The Musical - and that would be incredibly fun to be a part of - creatively. I'd really get into playing Nigel, the part played by Stanley Tucci in the film. Who know's what's in store for the future. There are things I'm interested in - but until you're in NYC and available to show up at auditions, no one is thinking of you until you're right in front of them... So right now, I'm on tour. Next week, I'll be in NYC for a couple of days. I won't "be there" until I actually get there, however...
I understand (and correct if I am wrong) you are a consultant for an eyelash line? Can you tell us a little more about it?
Haha. Sure. Thanks for asking. It's actually a mascara that we sell in our makeup line; I represent products for Younique, including our incredible "magic" Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara. Girls love it because it makes it look like they have on fake eyelashes, but there's no glue involved, no strips of lashes, etc - its all mascara, its vegan/gluten-free, easy-to-use, water-resistant and washes off with soap and water. A few of our girls in the show are actually using it now instead of their fake lashes and they're in love with it too. It's really cool to see people flip for it, actually; thanks for asking. More information can be found on the facebook group, facebook.com/SingOutLashesMakeup Purchase directly: SingOutLashes.com
What is the best advice you can give to aspiring performers?
To never give up. To take "giving up" out of the context of what they're capable of. Without moving forward, no matter how tired, disheartened and slapped-down - how could any of us succeed? Its hard. It's rough. It hurts. Your heart bleeds. I know. But you can't give up.
Whats next for Eric Ruiz?
Again, I don't know. And there is something comforting in knowing that. Being able to say "I don't know..." and being okay with it - the pressure is off and I can just be. I've been talking with a certain project about the possibility for upcoming replacements in the next couple of years, however nothing is set in stone and these are passing conversations, nothing to see here quite yet :)
If you could describe yourself in three words what would they be?
Strong, Determined, Confident