In The Haus: Ashleigh Rubenach

Ashleigh Rubenach’s journey into the performing arts began with an early obsession with Disney musicals and Golden Age MGM classics, inspired by her Nanna. From the moment she saw The Sound of Music at age five, she knew she wanted to be on stage. Ashleigh pursued her passion through dance, singing, and acting, eventually auditioning for drama school at 17. Her dedication led to a flourishing career in musical theatre, where she has since brought numerous characters to life with her captivating performances.

In our latest In The Haus feature, Theatre Haus chats with Ashleigh about her career highlights, including her role as Allison Vernon-Williams at the Hayes Theatre and her current project, Sunset Boulevard, where she plays Betty Schaefer. Ashleigh shares insights into her creative process, the influences that shaped her career, and advice for aspiring performers. Join us as we dive into the inspiring journey of this talented actress and learn more about her experiences on and off the stage.

We’d love to know more about the beginning of your career – where and how did you get your start? 

I attribute my early obsession with all things musicals to Disney and watching Golden Age MGM classics with my Nanna growing up (Singin’ In The Rain, basically anything Debbie Reynolds). My Nanna took me to see my first musical – The Sound of Music – when I was 5 and from there I knew what I wanted to do (literally, I remember having the thought!). I studied dance, singing and acting during and after school, did community theatre shows and performed at every available opportunity, all the way up to my audition for drama school when I was 17.

What or who were some of your early influences or inspirations that shaped your career?

Julie Andrews was my OG inspiration and remains so to this day! The list quickly expanded to include greats from the stage and screen like Kelli O’Hara, Jessica Chastain and Grace Kelly.

What are some of the most defining moments or milestones in your career so far?

Playing Allison Vernon-Williams at the Hayes Theatre in Sydney in 2018 was the first time I was given the opportunity to create a role. Under the directorial brilliance of Alexander Berlage, the process of freshly discovering a show was so exciting and reaffirmed that I love that part of the creative process.

What is a quirky fact about you, or something people wouldn’t expect about your story?

My oldest and dearest friend, the wonderful Stephen Madsen, was my next-door neighbour growing up! We’ve known one another for nearly 30 years and have grown up performing together. We were the only two students from Sydney in our year at WAAPA (the faculty had no idea we knew each other) and since then we’ve gone on to perform together in Australia and internationally. I’m so grateful to have him by my side through all the ups and downs of being an actor.

What are you currently working on and how has that creative process been?

I am currently in Sunset Boulevard! It has been such a thrilling process thus far and I’m so excited for audiences to see the show. The entire company are a dream to work with, and the design is stunning! When we saw the set for the first time, my jaw dropped.

What’s in your rehearsal bag that you can’t go without? 

I will always have a pair of chorus heels, my pencil case (with a pencil, eraser and at least 2 highlighters), my water bottle, mints and chocolate.

Do you have a reading, teaching/advice, institution or resource that changed your life/perspective, which you’d recommend to others?

I’m a big podcast fan! I listen to a lot of Awards Chatter, Smartless and Armchair Collective. I love listening to the experiences and processes of other actors. The wonderful Michael Lindner, who I just had the pleasure of working with on Groundhog Day, has started a podcast called ‘And I Know Things Now’ which is a wonderful resource for theatre performers or enthusiasts. I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Michael (who is a master conversationalist), but absolutely recommend all of their episodes. Insightful, honest and charming.

What advice would you give to a young person today aspiring to walk in your shoes? 

The two things I really live by in my career are ‘you get out what you put in’ and ‘what is meant for you will not pass you by’. Work hard at your craft, make the most of every opportunity, and trust that the right doors will open for you (the key is being ready to walk through when they do!).

What are your future aspirations or projects that you’re excited about?

I always answer this question these days that I think my future dream roles are projects I’m not even really aware of yet. All of my favourite creative experiences to this point have been roles or shows I didn’t know much about or didn’t know were for me.

Theatre Haus is the ‘home of theatre’, where, what or who do you call home?

The Northern Beaches of Sydney.

Don’t miss Ashleigh Rubenach in ‘Sunset Boulevard’, now performing at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre, before touring to Sydney Opera House from 28 August 2024. For tickets, visit the official ‘Sunset Boulevard’ website. Also, follow Ashleigh’s career on Instagram.

Want to feature in our In The Haus series? Email [email protected]

Photography by Ben King

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