Ruthie part 4: Life for Rent

Exclusive: Suffolk singing star Ruthie Henshall married fellow actor Tim Howar in 2004, and the couple have two children. In part four of our series telling Ruthie's story, JAMES MARSTON talks to them about marriage and parenting, and Tim's Broadway debut.


Suffolk singing star Ruthie Henshall married fellow actor Tim Howar in 2004, and the couple have two children. In part four of our series telling Ruthie's story, JAMES MARSTON talks to them about marriage and parenting, and Tim's Broadway debut.

THEY met on the cast of hit musical Peggy Sue Got Married back in 2001 - and it led to their own wedding.

Bound together by a love of the theatre, Ruthie Henshall and her husband Tim Howar are today proud of each other's achievements. Now living in New York, where Tim, 36, is appearing in the lead role of Roger in hit musical Rent, they combine parenthood with demanding careers.

While Tim concentrates on eight shows a week in Rent on Broadway, Ruthie is enjoying the time with her children Lily, three and Dolly, aged one. She is bursting with pride when it comes to talking about her husband. She said: “Tim has a voice from God. One minute he is singing from the musicals the next he is rocking it up. It is an extraordinary voice.”

Ruthie first performed on Broadway back in 1997, but for Tim Rent is his Broadway debut.

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Tim has loved the theatre since he was a child, and said: “I was introduced to it by my mother. I always thought it was a respectable profession.”

Tim is living his boyhood dream of playing New York. He said: “If you are American you want to work in London's West End, if you are English you want to crack Broadway. If you are Canadian you dream about doing both. Now I am here we can both share our Broadway experiences. Ruthie can now choose the things she wants to do.”

Tim has worked in the professional theatre for 14 years. Never formally trained, he has learned his trade as he has gone along. He said: “I've always been prepared to take a risk. I never went to drama school but I have learned quickly.”

Tim, who is passionate about performing, described the moment of applause at the end of a show.

“I love doing what I do. It is fantastic when the audience have enjoyed what you have done. They have given up their hard earned cash and they paid top dollar and they are standing up and cheering. It is a lovely feeling,” he said.

Rent is a rock and roll fest, with 15 on the cast. It is about to celebrate its tenth anniversary, and it remains a popular show. With its gritty adult storyline and solid reputation it is a stalwart of the Broadway scene.

The show's fans who travel the world to see the production, are affectionately known as “Rent-heads”.

Tim said: “I enjoy meeting the fans afterwards. They are very loyal. I do get recognised which is weird.”

He added: “It was tough to uproot the family but the time was right and we were able to do it. It was always a big dream to perform here.

“I like to “push the envelope” and do something that gets people excited,” he said.

Tim is able to walk to work from their apartment close to central park, so leaves the family at about 6pm every night.

He said: “I do my own make-up and hair, pick up any notes from the director and curtain goes up at 8pm. Rent is about the bohemian lifestyle of the late 1980s in New York's east village. Some of it isn't pretty but it is basically a love story about loving yourself and the community. It's always a great subject. It is quite a hard hitting role and I am enjoying it. Roger finds out about the different meanings of love. It is new each time and every night is a new challenge.”

After finishing at 10.30pm, Tim meets some fans before walking home to his family at about 11.30pm.

He said: “I am surviving on about four hours sleep a night, it seems. I don't want to miss anything with my daughters.”

Tim is also a member of rock band Van Tramp and he said: “I'd like to write my own musical one day if the right subject came up. The longer you stay in the business the more you work with friends. You always keep an eye out for the next opportunity.”

But at the moment Rent and fatherhood are Tim's main focus.

He said: “Fatherhood has been three things for me. I have finally grown up for real. I have also started over. I never had a father and my step father was abusive so it's a fresh start.

“It's been the most amazing experience I have ever had. It is wonderful. There is a larger love than I could have ever expected.

“I want to provide for my wife and girls. My role is to take the pressure off Ruthie. My wife is a star and she deserves to be treated well. I am lucky I have the chance to do that.”

See tomorrow's Evening Star for Ruthie's hopes for the future.

Tim was born Timothy Michael Hawryluk into a tiny farming community called Spirit River in Northern Alberta, Canada

1991 Anna of Green Gables - Gilbert - Prince Edward Island.

1992-1993 Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - Benjamin and Joseph - Canada and US

1993-1994 Miss Saigon - Understudy Chris - Toronto.

1995-1996 Tommy - Tommy - Toronto/Canadian tour.

1997 The House of Martin Guerre - Guillaume - Toronto.

Rock and Roll - Screamin' John McGee - Toronto

1998-2000 Les Miserables - North American tour.

2000 Outrageous - Martin - Toronto

Anything That Moves - Joel - Toronto

2001 Peggy Sue Got Married - Michael - London.

2002 The Magnificent Musicals - UK tour.

Ragtime in Concert - Houdini -Cardiff

A Night on Broadway - European tour.

A Celebration of Richard Rodgers - London.

2003-2004 Tonight's The Night- Stu Clutterbuck - London.

2005 On The Town - London

2006 Rent - New York

THE whole of the Nederlander Theatre was on its feet showing their raucous appreciation by the end of Rent.

Stuffed with energy, the show is entertaining, dramatic, and moving-everything you would expect from a Broadway show.

Set in the late 1980s Rent's gritty storyline tackles HIV, homosexuality, and drug abuse.

The show charts a year in the life of flatmates Roger (Tim Howar) and Mark (Matt Caplin).

Mark is a filmmaker charting the show's three pivotal relationships.

Finding it difficult to deal with HIV+ status Roger is withdrawn and remote until he meets neighbour Mimi. They share an immediate attraction.

Following the eviction from their East Village warehouse by the villain of the piece Benny, the show follows the fortunes of three relationships.

The songs are rock and roll in tone; this is no kick-line and sequin show.

Act one takes place on Christmas Eve. Mark's old girlfriend Maureen, incensed about the eviction, organises a protest which quickly descends into a riot.

It's New Year's Eve at the opening of Act two and the once close community is in disarray. Relationships crumble and life is bleak.

Though comic in places, emotions run high as HIV tears apart the relationships and friendships made in happier times. But by the end of the show the feel-good factor is back with a vengeance. Lessons are learned, wisdom gained and Rent sings loud and proud its message to seize the day.

A stunning show and a great night out, Rent and it's rollercoaster of a story. It is what the theatre is all about.

James Marston's visit was in association with Thomson.

Thomson America & Canada offers short breaks to the four-star art-deco Millennium Broadway in New York. Prices start from £445 per person for 3 nights' room only including flights with Virgin Atlantic from London Heathrow. Call 0870 403 0651 or see