It Starts With What I Knew.
Ever since I knew enough about the world to know what I wanted to be when I grew up, I knew what it would be: famous. I wanted to hear people scream my name, saying “OMG, that’s Ruby Karp!” I didn’t care if I would get paid; I just wanted to see my name in lights.
And I loved musicals. The songs spoke to me: ‘Popular’ from Wicked, the entire soundtrack of Legally Blonde, even The Lion King, which I went to see with my friend Paul. Every time my mom said we would be taking a car trip, I would get excited because I could listen to my iPod. Music spoke to me. I sang all the time at home, and me and my BFF would put on performances for our Moms and their friends in my BFF’s living room. As a 4 year old, my singing voice was not that strong but as soon as I could, I forced my mom to put me in musical theater at my school’s After School program (and I still take it to this very day). I also made my mom put me in ballet, which I HATED. The teacher was mean and made the act all about her and it bored me to DEATH. I think I thought that ballet was hip-hop. I liked THAT way better.
Which Took Me To The Yellow Brick Road.
My first year in the theater class, we just played games and messed around. The year after when I was in second grade, still taking ballet and now also Tae Kwon Do, the Theater Director announced they would be doing The Wizard of Oz. I instantly knew who I wanted to play: GLINDA! And so I auditioned for the role of my dreams. After the Wizard of Oz auditions, the cast list was posted. I got a flying monkey and the mayor of Munchkinland. I was crushed. I was sure I was going to get Glinda. I was so upset, I burst into tears. I had experienced rejection.
It’s a Hard Knock Life.
The next year in third grade, the After School did Pinocchio. I have to say, this was my favorite play we did. I auditioned and I got Jiminy Cricket, which was so fun. I had my own song that I sang all around the house, I really got into it. I loved it. I proved to my Theater Director I could play big parts. That year I also quit ballet. I had been taking Tae Kwon Do this whole time. I was an Orange Belt and I decided I had to stop it so I could focus on schoolwork and Jiminy Cricket.
That summer, I was stuck at my beach house with not much to do on rainy days except watch this movie, Grease. I loved it. Sandy was my idol. I sang her songs and to this day. I am still a miss-goody-two-shoes-Sandy. I loved her. I loved to dance, so I started taking this breakdancing class at After School. I also took this cartooning class and I started to fall in love with it! I found a new world when I was drawing. ( Although, in fifth grade, while doing a self-portrait, my art teacher commented, “This is horrible!” I just smiled and shrugged it off but it hurt. I liked my self-portrait and was kind of disappointed that she was so mean in her commentary. But I am sticking with it, no matter what she said to me.)
In fourth grade, the Theater Director was planning to do Annie. Now, Annie was one of my fave movies and I wanted to be Annie in the play and I knew that everyone would be competing for the role. On the day of auditions, I wore this big Annie wig to prove to the Theater Director I was serious and also, to be funny, and these two girls who were supposedly my friend kept taking the wig off my head and I the more I told them to stop, the more they did it. It brought me to tears right when everyone was auditioning but I still went on and I held it together and I sang ‘Tomorrow’ as best as I could. And when the cast list was published, there was my name. I HAD GOT THE ROLE OF ANNIE! I was so happy and no one teased me when I wore the red wig on stage or during rehearsals.
In the middle of all this, there was lots of drama off-stage. From the first day we met in first grade, this Boy and me would always compete. I was known at school as the girl who performs and he was known as the rocker boy so he would always be all, “I’m better than you, Ruby.” Also, he could be really mean to me, saying things like no boy would ever like me. Now, The Boy was also a musician. He thought he was an AMAZING guitar player and he thought that writing a song for a girl made him cool :/
Despite our tension, I was friends with him… sometimes. And in third grade, I had a crush on him, even though we had all this weirdness. I don’t know, he got cute and we hung out a little after school and I started to see a different side of him and then, at one of the school’s Movie Nights, he turned into a total jerk on me. He told me that he would never like me, that I was not pretty at all, that he was WAYYYY more talented than me and that he would always be the better singer and a few other super-mean things.
Now, getting that from your crush really hurts. Like, A LOT. The Boy also took breaking dancing, like I did. In fifth grade, this one time in our breakdancing class, I went to the bathroom and when I came back my teacher told me The Boy wanted to battle me to a dance off. I said, “Okay.” So The Boy went first, he did his little dance, his friends cheering him on (but no one there for me) and then it was my turn and I got this weird feeling so I pulled The Boy aside and asked him why he was doing this. He said, “Well I kind of hate you so I want to prove I’m better than you.” And I refused to do the dance off. His idiot friends called me a chicken and so did he. And then he said to me, “You will always be that 9-year-old LOSER!” I told him “Yeah, I am. But at least I know that I’m not some bad person who bullies girls. And you can call me ugly but inner beauty is the only one that matters to me.”
I don’t know how I said all that because I was so upset and he just said to me, “Just go away, you loser!” I walked away but what happened hurt and I started to cry. A couple weeks later, a close friend of The Boys’ and also mine moved away and so we had a goodbye party for him, but I had to leave early because I was doing monologues at UCB. The Boy accused me of being a horrible friend for leaving the goodbye party and I slapped him on the arm. He said, “That was such a girl slap.” I mean, seriously. So I hugged my friend goodbye and that was the last time I saw either of them.
Remember My Name.
In fifth grade, we did Fame. But it was NOT the Fame you know. It was some completely different story with new characters but it just had the same theme and some songs. I got May, not a HUGE role but a good one. I got my own song called ‘Hot Lunch’. After that, they had another musical theater workshop that I took. We were allowed to choose any Broadway song we wanted to sing. I choose ‘Popular’ from Wicked. Now, on the day of the performance, in front of our friends and family, I was in the middle of my song and I messed a word or two up and the pianist, who was our Theater Director’s assistant, stopped playing and said, “Ruby, you are in a completely wrong place and we need to start over.” IN THE MIDDLE OF MY PERFORMANCE IN FRONT OF MY MOM! And you know, I was dying inside but I went with it. And when I was done with my song, I went backstage and cried. After months of practicing that?! Really?! I was disappointed in myself. My Theater Director said he knew that I didn’t mess up and that the Pianist should have just gone with it and that he would talk to him about it. Once the pianist sent my Mom an apology email, I felt a little better. And this summer at camp, I got the role of the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland and that was a huge boost to my confidence coming off what happened with ‘Popular’.
You’re The One That I Want.
This week, I start sixth grade and the After School is doing Grease and I am SOOOOO excited. I love what Sandy learns about herself: She is so nice but then tries to be mean but then just goes back to being her true self and that is a fun character to try to capture. I will keep you posted on what role I get and I sadly can’t do breakdancing this year (I am too old to do it at the After School place but I will try to find a new place next semester). And I want to audition for other things. It is a hard life but I am fascinated by it. I love musical theater and hope to do it for the rest of my life.
And that is MY story.