Ruthie part 5: What the future holds

ExclusiveAs a proud mum and star of the stage, Ruthie Henshall seems to have it all. But in New York JAMES MARSTON reveals she still has ambitions unfulfilled - and plans to record a new album.


As a proud mum and star of the stage, Ruthie Henshall seems to have it all. But in New York JAMES MARSTON reveals she still has ambitions unfulfilled - and plans to record a new album.

In this fifth and final instalment of the Ruthie story, she talks about her hopes for the future.

FOR now, New York is her home.

But in this fast-paced city where fame and fortune is won and lost in an instant, what does the future hold for Suffolk's star Ruthie Henshall?

Today I can reveal the 39-year-old is now due to visit the UK, to have talks with EMI about a new album of songs that will surely seal her appeal in the hearts of her Suffolk fans.

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Her recent work in the BBC series Sounds Of The Musicals which brought her to a whole new prime time tv audience, and her last major role was as the lead role Marian, in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical A Woman in White which many saw and loved.

She commuted to London from the family home in Manningtree for the role, which was her first job in a show by Andrew Lloyd Webber for more than 15 years.

Sitting in their ninth floor Manhattan apartment, Ruthie recalled the show, and said: “I don't miss eight nights a week on the stage. I am loving having time with my children and being able to put my girls to bed.”

As The Evening Star reported yesterday, Ruthie's Canadian-born husband Tim Howar is currently performing on Broadway in the musical Rent. He is playing the lead role of Roger eight times a week, and it was when the job came up that the couple decided to move to the Big Apple with their two young daughters.

But Suffolk still holds a pull for Ruthie, who said: “Suffolk is 'home.' My family live in Suffolk and we have kept our home in Manningtree.

“When Tim and I we started our family I had this dream to leave London and live in the country. But when we first moved there, we thought we had been put out to pasture. It was hideous at first, but we made friends and within two weeks we knew we had made the right decision. Now we really miss home.”

She added: “I think this will be a semi-permanent move. If our careers bring us back to England then we will come back again. New York will be somewhere we keep returning to, because I have a green card, and Tim can work here. It is an exciting place to be.”

Ruthie reflected on how the arrival of their daughters Lily, three, and 15-month-old Dolly, had changed her. She said: “My job is about providing for the family now. Motherhood has made me less ambitious.

“I am still ambitious but I am not blinkered. My job is not my only focus - my focus is split now and it has been a fascinating process.”

She does worry that future roles might not flood in, if her face gets forgotten. She said: “Of course you wonder if that is going to be it, when you have time off to have children. In this business it is all about being there and keeping your profile up.

“But in some ways my career has never been so good. It has taken off since I stopped trying so hard. When you are not as hungry, it all happens. It is very strange.”

At the moment Ruthie is ruling nothing out, and ruling nothing in. She said: “Each decision will be made at the time. I don't want to miss my children growing up.”

Tim agrees the children come first. He said: “In New York there are so many people who are trying to live the dream, they forget about their children. We don't want to miss anything while they are growing up. Ruthie is able to pick and chose what she does and what she wants to do.”

She has done the occasional performance since she has been in New York.

She said: “I did 'Nothing Like a Dame' a one-nighter on Broadway and I have just signed with an agent here. Both of us doing eight nights a week in a show would be hard on our family.”

But spurred on by her recent success on television, Ruthie admits she would like to do more television and recording work in the future. She said: “I'm with an agent and though I'm not actively going for jobs I would consider work if something came up.

“My children will soon be at school and I'd rather be out working during the day.”

As Ruthie is clearly enjoying motherhood, might she have another child?

She said: “I'm one of four. I don't feel like I am done yet! I would like to have more children.”

For Ruthie's parents David - a former Evening star editor - and Gloria Henshall, their daughter's career is clearly something they have enjoyed watching develop.

Mrs Henshall from Sutton is a former drama and English teacher at Northgate High School in Ipswich.

She said: “Ruthie's career has been a great source of pleasure and pride for the whole family, and we are pleased that she is now able to have a bit of a rest in New York for a few months. She is doing what she enjoys so much - spending time with her two children while her husband Tim does his stuff on stage.”

Mrs Henshall said her daughter is also enjoying meeting up with old friends.

She added: “She spent several years working in New York, and has a lot of friends there - people like Sandy Duncan, a leading Broadway actress who played Roxie to her Velma in Chicago, and Carol Burnett - who can forget her as Miss Hannigan in the movie Annie? Carol became a sort of second mother to her when they were in Putting it Together.

“It is likely that David and I will nip over to see her and the children in New York before they return home in the summer, because it's a city we enjoy as well.

“It might also be a chance for us to link up with Noel, another daughter who works in America, and possibly get together with some of David's relatives.”

1986: Ruthie graduates from Laine Theatre Arts

Summer: Clacton Summer Season

1987: A Chorus Line(National tour), she is in the cast;

Summer: Summer season at Westcliff Theatre, Clacton

December: Cats (West-End - New London), cast as Jemima;

1989: Miss Saigon (1989 - World premiere - London - Theatre Royal, Drury Lane) - original cast

1990: Miss Saigon, takes over lead role of Ellen.

1991: Children of Eden; she plays Aphra. Ruthie joins Chichester Festival Theatre.

1992: Les Miserables (1991 - West-End - Palace Theatre); Ruthie Cast in Crazy For You (Prince Edward - Theatre)

1994: she creates role of Amalia in She Loves Me (Savoy)

1994 Oliver Award, for She Loves Me for Amalia.

1995: Ruthie reprises her role of Polly in Crazy For You (in Canada)

1996: joins new production of Oliver! as Nancy (London - Palladium)

1997 Divorce Me, Darling! (Chichester) She opens in Chicago with Ute Lemper (Adelphi) on


1997 - 2001 Chicago, playing Velma Kelly this time, Putting It Together, Zeigfeld Follies of 1939, The Vagina Monologues, Miss Saigon (Ellen)London's West End

1997 Oliver Award nomination Chicago for Roxie.

2001: Peggy Sue Got Married, playing Peggy Sue (Shaftesbury Theatre)

2002: The Vagina Monologues (Arts Theatre)

2003 June: Chicago - as Velma Kelly (Adelphi)

Fosse (Manchester)

2005 A Woman in White - playing Marian Halcombe from until February 2006

Mack and Mabel in Concert (chorus)

Save the Children (chorus)

Jesus Christ Superstar concert version

Andrew Lloyd Webber presentation at Expo (1992)

Les Miserables Tenth Anniversary Concert (1995)

Nine month concert tour (1996)

Les Miserables concert version (1997)

Hey, Mr. Producer! (1998)

Cardiff Stadium (2001)

Cats (2002)

Musical Tour through the US (January 2002)

Girls Night Out - Royal Albert Hall (5th February 2002)

The Richard Rodgers Centenary Gala (12th May 2002)

Oh What A Beautiful Evening - Golders Green Hippodrome (23rd June 2002)

Late Night Divas (1st July 2002)

The Magnificent Musicals (April - August 2002)

Cardiff International Festival of Musical Theatre (2002)

Songs of Praise ("Sing For Christmas") (2002)

Hampton Court Festival concert (2003)

Proms In The Park (2003)

BBC proms, Royal Albert Hall (2004)

Wales Millennium Centre Royal Gala (2004)

Law and Order

One Week in the Westend

It's your funeral

Showtime@The Stadium (Cardiff)

Richard Rodgers Centenary Gala

Lawrence Olivier Awards 2002

V Graham Norton (06/06/2003)

Celebrate Oliver! (2005)

The Sound of Musicals (2006)

Name: Valentine Ruth Henshall

Born: March 7 , 1967 in Bromley , Kent.

Ruthie wanted to be a ballet dancer originally.

In 1998, she headed to America to establish a career on Broadway. She won a leading role on Ziegfeld Follies of 1936, then starred as Velma Kelly in Chicago, and later in Miss Saigon and Putting It Together.

She returned to the UK in 2001 to return to the West End stage starring as Peggy Sue, in Peggy Sue Got Married, gaining her a fourth Olivier nomination.

She married actor Tim Howar in September 2004 , and they have two children.

Until moving to New York this year, the family lived in Manningtree.

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 three nights' room only including flights with Virgin Atlantic from London Heathrow. Call 0870 403 0651 or see .