From 'Barnyard' to Broadway

Local teen sees meteoric rise as actress


Artistic direction comes from the darndest places sometime. While most kids would be content to play a cow in a local production and call it a career, Ruby Hamilton saw a vast range of possibilities. That newfound fondness led her to a spot in the prestigious Julliard School in Geneva, Switzerland this summer.

“When I was 9, I was planning to go to an art camp for a couple weeks in the summer, when my mom got a call that they needed a tall cow for a 'Barnyard Moosical' at the Granbury Opera House,” explained Hamilton. “I’d seen shows there and the director knew of me. I agreed to skip art camp and be a cow, though I really didn’t think I wanted to. After that show, I just really started to fall in love with the feeling of being on stage and started acting.”

After moving to Gonzales a few years ago with her parents, she took up acting here at the Crystal Theatre at their summer workshop. Theatre Director Barbara Crozier didn't have a spot for the youngster, but was able to squeeze her in for a small part as a wolf in a fairy tale play. That's probably the last time she'll be seen as just some random animal.

“By the next year she was doing Lady Macbeth, if that tells you anything,” said Crozier, clearly impressed by the rise of her newest and unexpected star. The next season she was selected to attend the Shakespeare at Winedale summer camp, and her audition piece for Julliard was that very Macbeth piece.

“I think Shakespeare really got her attention and she jumped into it wholeheartedly,” Crozier said.

The Shakespeare Ninja just couldn't be contained by the walls of her home company at the Crystal Theatre. The hometown girl is ready to explore the many options that exist for such a seasoned player, and thus her Julliard experience.

The Julliard School is a performing arts conservatory established in 1905. Annually it trains a small group of students in dance, drama, and music, and is regarded as one of the world's leading schools in those areas. It is based in New York City and has an offshoot campus in Switzerland.

“I learned so much, the biggest was to 'live truthfully in imaginary circumstances,'” Hamilton explained. “I also learned that being one with the universe and the atmosphere helps with literally everything. I will take that everywhere I go.”

Next up is a stint at the ZACH Scott Theatre conservatory in Austin. She will be one of nine that were accepted out of 50 applicants that will get classes in Screen Actors Guild (SAG) contracts, tips on “cattle call” auditioning, how to market their acting abilities and getting oneself in front of the right people. It is a four-year program where the students will also snag priority auditions for performances and will get parts in upcoming plays there.

“The ZACH Conservatory is acting technique and teaching us the business side of acting,” she said. “Plus lots of script readings.”

Hamilton sets her goals in live Shakespeare productions and film acting. And even though she is just a mere 14 years of age, she isn't about to let the rigorous words and work stand in her way of becoming the professional that she seeks to be.

“In musical theatre, you forget about your problems for a few hours and just enjoy,” she said. “But Shakespeare — the plays and the words bring out your demons and your good side too, so you can relate and overcome. It’s like you’re giving of yourself to give value to the world and I think that’s so cool and it’s been interpreted and reinterpreted by different directors for a few hundred years. Unlike other theatre plays and musicals, you will never see a Shakespeare production done the same way.

“Learning different cultures and making my world bigger is only one way theatre is preparing me for the real world. Julliard introduced me to people just like me but people from all over the world that have the same dream I do.”

Crozier calls this one a “generous player,” which is an actor that plays well with others on stage, who doesn't overpower a performance, who doesn't showboat or preen for the crowd, who helps fellow actors when they need it with lines or presentations, and who doesn't suck all of the air out of the room. She sees good things ahead for the young Hamilton.

“She's going to be hard to ignore when she walks through that door,” Crozier said.