Ruby Schwartz
Ruby Schwartz (Nicely)

Ruby Schwartz is doing TikTok postings to call attention to the musical revue that portrays fairy tale heroines reimagined with human flaws emphasized.

When Ruby Schwartz was beginning her senior year at Groves High School, she began thinking about becoming a college freshman in 2020. Besides looking ahead to chemistry and marketing classes, Schwartz wanted to participate in extracurricular activities, particularly theater productions.

Schwartz had expressed theater interests for two years as part of the stage crew of the Groves performing arts program and was inducted into the International Thespian Society.

After the pandemic hit, Schwartz, 18, adjusted to the ever-present digital world while based at her family home in Birmingham. She has been able to take remote classes at DePaul University in Chicago, and she also has found a way to connect with theater.

Schwartz has accepted part-time assignments in marketing Disenchanted!, the next production of the professional, nonprofit, locally-based Nicely Theatre Group. She is doing TikTok postings to call attention to the musical revue that portrays fairy tale heroines reimagined with human flaws emphasized.

“This is my first marketing job, and it’s expanded my knowledge,” said Schwartz, who is featuring snippets of cast members promoting the production running Jan. 15-29. “They’re hoping I can help attract younger audiences to their performances.

Ruby Schwartz

“This production has not been made in Zoom style with people in different locations. Instead, it was filmed at the Berman [Center for the Performing Arts at the Jewish Community Center]. Social distancing protocols were observed for both cast and crew.”

The snippets can be viewed on the TikTok app with the theater company name as the username. The musical falls in line with what was first presented as an off-Broadway show written by Dennis Giacino.

Nicely’s Roots

Nicely was started last summer by David Carroll, of West Bloomfield, as he entered retirement after a career in the financial services industry. A longtime theater fan, he got the idea for a new company after winning a role in a production of Guys and Dolls, his favorite show, for the Village Players of Birmingham. Nicely-Nicely Johnson was his favorite character.

“Maybe I’ll be like director Alfred Hitchcock, making brief appearances in productions,” joked Carroll, who personally financed the company’s first project, a selection of short plays

Among the portrayed characters now introduced with startling outlooks are Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, the Little Mermaid, Mulan, Pocahontas and the Princess Who Kissed the Frog. Actors have been directed by Mitch Master, whose stage experience has included work as director of performing and visual arts at Frankel Jewish Academy and co-director of Roeper Summer Stock Theatre. He has performed in 50 productions. 

Eric W. Maher, Nicely technical director, worked on the TikTok presentations.

“Working on the Nicely marketing has made isolation better,” said Schwartz, who has been active with Aish HaTorah. “Adjusting was so difficult at first. I had been going to live shows, and I miss that. Working with Nicely helps make up for those experiences.”

Planning and participating in another digital platform also has helped Schwartz connect through this time of confinement. She and friend Ari Tiles created the podcast “yes. it’s us again.” 

“We explore what can be going on in teenagers’ minds,” Schwartz explained. “We want it to be very real and authentic. We’ve talked about bullying and mental health.”

Keeping true to her marketing orientation, Schwartz alerts prospective viewers that tickets for Disenchanted! ($15) are available at nicelytheatre.org. The family-friendly production runs 65 minutes. Ticket holders can watch the presentation as many times as they wish during the two-week run.

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