As a part of our ongoing Meet the Cast of Calendar Girls Blog Series, let us introduce you to Shanan Custer:
ROLE: Ruth, 40s
AS DESCRIBED IN PLAYWRIGHT TIM FIRTH’S SCRIPT:
Ruth’s journey is from the false self-confidence of the emotionally abused to the genuine self- confidence of the woman happy in her own skin. Ruth is eager to please but not a rag doll, and . . . she is desperate to be the cartilage in the spine of the WI and keep everyone happy. She has spine herself—if she was too wet, no one would want her around. But they do, and they feel protective of her because they sense there is something better in Ruth than her life is letting out.
DIRECTOR MARY FINNERTY’S COMMENT:
Shanan Custer is a comedienne of great talent. She has a connection to audiences that is remarkable. As Ruth, she is fearful but not annoying. There is a strength underneath the comedy that I love.
QUESTION FOR SHANAN:
Ruth is a pleaser but not a pushover. What pleased you about playing her?
I love the challenge of playing the underdog character — in this case the most nervous and unconfident of all the women — and making her real. Ruth is a very comedic character with several lovely turns throughout the play that mostly focus on her dealing with her benign mix-ups and hang ups, but she is also shown as having a great deal of empathy for others and ultimately having a change of heart about herself and her place in the world. I love the comedy and the interplay between these characters, but what I really love about playing Ruth is that I get the chance to make her funny but whole, silly but truthful and — I hope — relatable to our audiences.
Park Square 2 Sugars, Room for Cream; Dead Man’s Cell Phone Representative Theatre Interact Theater: Hell is Empty and ALL the Devils are Here; Casting Spells Productions: Frankie and Johnny in the Clair De Lune; Workhaus Collective: The Mill; Theatre Pro Rata: Emilie: Le Marquis du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight Training M.A., Theater History, Theory and Criticism, University of Maryland, College Park Awards/Other Ivey Award 2013 (Ensemble, 2 Sugars, Room for Cream) Upcoming Projects 2016 MN Fringe Festival: Sometimes There’s Wine; Park Square: The Liar, Theatre Pro Rata (at Park Square): Up: The Man in the Flying Chair