Hannah Cruz, who played suffragette Ruza in the Public Theater production of Shaina Taub's Suffs musical, can currently be seen in the Ogunquit Playhouse's American premiere of The Da Vinci Code, adapted from Dan Brown's best-selling mystery novel of the same name.
Directed by Leigh Toney, based on original direction by & Juliet's Luke Sheppard, the limited engagement also features Obie, Drama Desk, and Lortel Award winner Michael Urie (Buyer & Cellar, Ugly Betty) as Professor Robert Langdon and Emmy winner Charles Shaughnessy (Spamalot, The Nanny) as Sir Leigh Teabing.
Adapted by Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel, the play—about a curator of The Louvre who is found brutally murdered and the duo who has to solve the case—continues through September 23 at the Maine venue.
Cruz, who plays Sophie Neveu in The Da Vinci Code, was also seen at the Ogunquit Playhouse as Inga in the musical version of Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein. Audiences around the country have seen her work in the national tours of Hamilton, earning an IRNE Award for Best Actress as Eliza, and Bullets Over Broadway, playing Ellen. Cruz also played the aspiring pianist Camille in MCC's Off-Broadway production of Only Gold.
In the interview below for the Playbill series How Did I Get Here—spotlighting not only actors, but directors, designers, musicians, and others who work on and off the stage to create the magic that is live theatre—Cruz shares how Patti LuPone inspired her to be an actor and her most memorable day job.
Where did you train/study?
Hannah Cruz: Most of my training has been on the job. I ended up going on tour out of high school and then moved straight to New York at 19. I read and watch a lot.
Was there a teacher who was particularly impactful/helpful? What made this instructor stand out?
You know, I’ve learned the most from my directors. Leigh Silverman [who directed Suffs] has taught me a lot—to trust myself and have patience with myself and push me when I need pushing.
I also took an Alexander Technique class at the 92 Street Y that helped me immensely.
What can audiences expect from The Da Vinci Code? Do you have a favorite moment in the show for your character?
It's a thriller. The fast-paced nature of a Dan Brown book on stage. It’s translated so well. I get to do so many cool new things in this show. I get to fight! Which is a dream and a blast. Our fight director, Rick Sordelet, is amazing.
Can you share a favorite moment onstage or backstage from your time in the national tour of Hamilton?
I mean, I met my fiancé! Edred Utomi was my Hamilton for the second half of my contract, and doing that show with him was a dream. "That Would Be Enough" with him felt so true. I loved it.
What made you decide to become an actor? Was there a particular production or performance that influenced your decision?
I think I always had it in me, but I do have a specific memory of watching Patti LuPone in the Gypsy revival at the St. James. I sat front row mezz, and I was bowled over. I didn’t know someone could access things like that. It was the ultimate inspiration.
Tell me about a time you almost gave up but didn’t.
Oh God, I threaten to give up all the time. Mostly melodramatically, but there have been a few times when I’ve gone years without working and I’ve really questioned if it would ever happen. I know deep down because of how stubborn I am, I’ll never quit.
What do you consider your big break?
I guess Hamilton would be it. Up until that job, I had been up for leading ladies a lot. A lot. And I never booked it because I was too "green." Hamilton took a chance on me, and for that I’m forever grateful. I really believe that what’s meant for you, is for you, so it’s all a blessing, the no's and the yes's.
What is the most memorable day job you ever had?
Between the Bullets Over Broadway tour and when I went out to Disneyland to play Elsa in Frozen at the Hyperion, I babysat for the company Broadway Babysitters. It was the best non-theatre job I’ve ever had. I love kids. And I would pay to be around them, honestly. So getting paid to do that felt like a steal.
What is your proudest achievement as an actor?
Thus far, it’s doing this play right now, The Da Vinci Code. Every job over the last couple of years has contained a big challenge for me. In Hamilton, it was leading a show and singing that show eight times a week. In Suffs, it was dialect work and my first real New York introduction. In Only Gold, it was playing piano on stage. I’ve been wanting to do a play for years. Acting, above all other art forms, is where I find the most fulfillment, but being opposite juggernauts like Michael Urie and Charlie Shaughnessy was daunting. Here I am with no formal training, acting with Juilliard-trained and seasoned actors. I’m really, really proud of myself for rising to the challenge and having a good time doing it. I learn every day, and that’s all I could ever want.