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by Kalamalama staff

Madeline Ruhl, a freshman, has captured the role of Laura in the spring 2009 production of Tennessee Williams’ classic, The Glass Menagerie, a subtle play about the fragile intimacies of the human heart. The central characters of the play are Laura Wingfield and her family: her brother Tom, a frustrated poet who works in a shoe factory and yearns for adventure, and her mother Amanda, an aging southern belle, a romantic woman whose life has been narrowed to a pragmatic struggle for survival by Laura’s father, the husband who left 16 years before the play opens in 1930s St. Louis.
Laura is a painfully shy young woman, a recluse who’s collection of glass animals, from which the play derives its title, functions symbolically throughout the play as a barometer of her emotions as she strives to deal with the outside world in the person of a young man, Jim O’Connor, her former high school crush.
“ I saw a pop up ad that led me to the school,” Ruhl said about how she heard about HPU.
Ruhl is not much older than the Laura she plays on stage. Currently earning an “individualized liberal arts” major in theater, business, and English from Chicago, Ruhl did some acting in high school, including a one-woman show about the war in Iraq that she created herself entitled, The Lives We Hold. She has also written several other short stories and plays and is currently attending HPU on a band scholarship to play the piccolo and the flute.
Ruhl also plays the flute and the sitar, and while in high school, she learned how to make chocolate and even earned a chocolatier certificate from Chicago’s L’Ecole Chocolat in Chicago, which may explain why she hopes to become a candymaker after graduation. She also plans to continue to do acting on the side.
HPU’s spring production of The Glass Menagerie is directed by the University’s award-winning theater program director Joyce Maltby. It opens April 3 and continues Thursdays through Sundays through May 2 at the Paul and Vi Loo Theatre on HPU’s Hawai‘i Loa Campus. For reservations or ticket information, call the box office, 375-1282.

Editor’s Note: Ruhl was recently in an accident. Her knee is in a brace, but she plans to perform as scheduled.




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