An Interview with Myrtle and George
By Rebekah Levin
Please enjoy the final installment of our in-depth dancer interviews with our “Myrtle” and “George Wilson.”
First up is Myrtle, a rather “colorful” character, played by Madeleine Miller. Madeleine has trained at Ballet Palm Beach’s school since she was about knee-high to a barre… if barres had knees. She naturally carries an air of elegance, so it’ll be interesting to see how she embodies a character such as Myrtle who has the class of a ganache-glazed phonebook posing as a wedding cake… But, that’s why dancers must be actors!
—Where are you from? How many years with Ballet Palm Beach?
Madeleine– I grew up in Jupiter, Florida, and this is my third season with the company.
— What got you interested in ballet in the first place and why did you choose ballet as a career?
Madeleine- In my first few years, I was always walking on my toes. Everyone told my mom I should be put into ballet lessons. I fell in love! There is nothing I love doing more than dancing, so why not do what I love as a career!
— What is the hardest thing for you about being a ballet dancer?
Madeleine- Persevering and staying mentally strong are difficult parts. It’s so easy to get beaten down in this field. But that is what makes it such a beautiful art form. It’s pure and raw in emotion and not the same every day. Our bodies are not machines and do not work the same day to day. Ballet takes patience.
— If you had the opportunity to dance any role from a ballet, what would it be?
Madeleine- I love the role of Juliet. It would be such a challenge but also an honor to perform or even rehearse that role.
— What is something people might not know about you?
Madeleine- I have a black cat!
Now, let’s talk about your role in Gatsby! Describe your character (Myrtle) in a few words
Madeleine– Broken-hearted. Floozy
—Is there anything about Myrtle that you have difficulty portraying and what would you do if you were able to meet her in real life?
Madeleine- Myrtle is unhappy and desperate for attention and money. She is cheating on her husband, George, with Daisy’s husband, Tom. Tom is aggressive and hits Myrtle. This character is tough because those are some not so good traits. If I met the woman, I would want to knock some sense into her!
—What is your favorite scene so far?
Madeleine- We actually just finished working on a scene where Tom and Nick go to pick me up (Myrtle) to bring her to the city to party. It’s wild music and challenging partnering!
Next up is Richel Mari Ruiz…(but most call him Rich) who plays George Wilson, Myrtle’s poor (in every sense of the term) husband… and how ironic, “Rich” playing the “poor” man. A very amiable fellow, I dare you to frown while being around this effervescent dancer because he is nitrous oxide (laughing gas) in human form… and the side effects are quite similar. But, as dancers must portray whatever personality demanded, acting is a major part of dancing!
–Where are you from? How many years with Ballet Palm Beach?
Rich- I’m originally from the Philippines, and I just moved from New York City. This is my first season.
–What got you interested in ballet in the first place and why have you chosen it as a career?
Rich– I’ve always been drawn with dance whether it’s ballet, ballroom, folk or musical theater. My mom made me take ballet at the age of 16 to help with my “Hunchback of Notre Dame” posture. I never thought I’d pursue it until I moved here in the United States.
–The hardest thing for you about being a ballet dancer?
Rich– The hardest thing about being a dancer for me is the aspect of insanity in this art form. As Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
— If you had the opportunity to dance as a character from any book, TV show, or movie, who would you choose?
Rich– I would love to play as Jerry Mulligan played by Gene Kelly in the film An American in Paris.
— What is something that most people don’t know about you?
Rich– I got cast in my first musical by seeing the company’s production on my birthday!! Talk about best birthday gift ever!!
—Now, let’s talk a bit about Gatsby. Describe George Wilson in three words.
Rich– hopeful, hardworking and possessive.
–Is there anything about the character can identify with?
Rich– I identify with my character’s perseverance to work things out no matter how difficult the obstacles are.
–What part of Gatsby are you most anticipating?
Rich– I’m looking forward for the ending scene, but I don’t wanna say much about it. I don’t wanna give anything away especially to those who haven’t read the book!
On that intriguing note, if you want to see Rich, Madeleine, and their colleagues perform, ankle it over to the Eissey Campus Theatre to see Gatsby (the whole kit and caboodle) on March 19th and 20th.