Good Witch/Bad Witch

You thought high school theater teachers spent their summers far from the madding crowd, but you were wrong. Jennifer E. Ruddle, who instructs budding thespians at Glendale's Sandra Day O'Connor High School, is proof that theater profs stick to the stage, even in their off-hours; she spent her summer directing Theater Works' just-opened I Do! I Do!. What's more, she's a stuck-up Madonna fan who can't sing.

I knew I wanted to be in show business when I was 7 years old. My parents enrolled me in a theater summer camp, and I played Snow White in a show called Mickey Is Missing. The lights, the costumes, the applause . . . I was hooked.

The worst thing about being a director is letting go. At some point (usually opening night), you have to realize that you did your job and now you have to trust the actors and crew to do theirs.

My worst audition ever was in college. I was auditioning for a show and I didn't realize it was a musical, so because I don't sing and I didn't have anything prepared, the music director made me sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" in front of everyone who was there. It wasn't pretty.

The happiest day in my life was the day I got married. I know it sounds cheesy, but I got lucky and married the man of my dreams.

If I could be anyone other than myself, it would be Madonna. Only because she has the ability to continually grow and change as a performer. She is constantly reinventing herself, and she's not afraid to push the envelope and step outside of her comfort zone.

It's not entirely true, but I sometimes tell people that my personalized license plate [STUKUP] is just a joke from when I was in high school. But I really am a little self-centered . . .

The fictional character I am most like is Glinda from Wicked. She comes across as superficial, shallow, and a little mean at first, but if you give her a chance and really get to know her, she's actually a very sweet, caring and intelligent person.

I am utterly terrified of spiders! I can't even look at them on TV! I'm even frightened by plastic Halloween spiders.

I laugh uncontrollably at women who wear open-toed shoes with nylons. I love fashion mishaps.

The one thing I absolutely refuse to ask an actor to do on stage is anything they believe their character wouldn't do.

Something I have never admitted to anyone before is something I don't intend to admit to now! Hey, if I've kept it a secret this long . . .

Currently I am reading Acting From a Spiritual Perspective: Your Art, Your Business, Your Calling by Kathryn Marie Bild.

The first time I got drunk, I ripped my mother's wedding dress! I was 8 years old and my cousin and I drank a little too much champagne punch at my mom and stepdad's wedding.

Like my mother used to say, "There is no gray area — only black or white!"

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela