One of the facets of entertainment is that it possesses an ability to present subjects focused to specific groups of viewers. The Actor’s Co-op has used this to appeal to their desired patrons, those who appreciate both live musical theater and faith based themes. The requirements of the entertainers who present the material are as staunch and demanding as for any Broadway production. Actress/singer/dancer Karlee Squires was cast in the Actor’s Co-op production of “Ruthie & Me” which tells one of the oldest stories of a family dealing with a mother-in-law. Squires performance and that of the whole production was overwhelmingly received as the entire run at the David Schall Theatre was completely sold-out. Natalie Hope MacMillian ( Director of “Ruthie & Me”) cast her because as she states, “She is very diverse. Her abilities when it comes to acting, singing, and dance are extraordinary. Were she to focus on any single one of these her talent would set her above others but she has managed to simultaneously excel at all three. It’s a grand tradition to juggle these talents in musical theater and many aspire to achieve greatness in them; with Karlee you can truly see them in action. She was an incredible asset to our production.”
Touching and funny, “Ruthie & Me” is a musical comedy about a love story between a man and a woman, a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law, a people and their God. Based on the Biblical story of Ruth and Naomi, “Ruthie & Me” is told from the point of view of the first Jewish mother-in-law. The style of the show is a Golden Age musical, ala Rodgers and Hammerstein (Book and Lyrics by Karen Westcott, Music by Marylou Dunn). Ruth and Naomi travel from Bethlehem to Moab after both of their husband's die. The people in Moab don’t want them there. The women are shunned and forced to live outside of the city gates with the rest of the poor and destitute people. When working in the fields, Ruth meets Boaz, a wealthy farmer, and they fall in love. The town tries to stop them from being together by saying it's a conflict of Ruth’s previous marriage but the lovers prevail and win the quarrel with the townspeople. Ruth and Boaz end up getting married and the townspeople accept their union. Naomi’s long lost love returns and they fall back in love.
The production made use of Squires diverse talent, casting her in a number of roles. Highlighted were her dancing abilities which were displayed in “Ruthie & Me” ranging from lyrical ballet to a more modern sexy/sultry piece. The production used almost no spoken dialogue which required Karlee along with the rest of the cast to be in top signing condition. The challenging harmonies are evident throughout the production. Correlating to the historical/biblical theme, the vocal part are rooted in a more complex and traditional musical style than most modern productions.
Squires has been involved in countless theater productions in her home country of Canada. The country has long been a source of supplying great entertainers. She notes that the environment there has always been supportive of the arts. At the same time she concedes that one of the things she loves about a career in entertainment is that it gives one the ability to travel the world, whether it be for days or years. She notes, “One of the things that unifies people from all places is that they love stories. The language might be different, the style of dance might be different, even the type of clothes, but we all enjoy seeing these characters who make us laugh, cry, and feel hope. There are so many great places around the world that still embrace theater: London, New York, Los Angeles, and others…I really want to be in another city and experience what the people and the community there has to offer. I love Canada, of course. Being gone for a while doesn’t mean being gone forever. I have met and worked with artists from other places and I’d love to be one of those people from another place that performs in their town. Maybe it’s the artistic side of me but I believe that’s how the world gets to be a smaller and better place, by truly getting to know people from somewhere else.”