Fine Arts Hall of Fame Inductee Babs Rubenstein Shares Her Insight Into Her Career in Musical Theatre

Photo Credit: Yuvika Koul; Wikimedia Commons

Contributing Writer Stephanie Lynne, ’23

Babs Rubenstein, Education Director at Syracuse Children’s Theatre, J-D Class of 2006, was inducted into the Fine Arts Hall of Fame on October 29, 2021 for her contributions to the music department and her accomplishments since graduating from J-D.

Rubenstein has many accomplishments inside and outside of J-D. One of her major accomplishments is starting up and being president of the drama department her senior year of high school as well as being in the first national tour of “Priscilla Queen of the Desert,” where she played Shirley/BarMaid.

Rubenstein found out she was being inducted into the Fine Arts Hall of Fame around late August, early September. “Surprised,” Rubenstein laughs when asked about her reaction, “Because I thought I was too young to be inducted into a hall of fame…apparently I’m old enough.”

She would like to thank all her music teachers for this accomplishment and her parents for always being supportive, driving her to rehearsals, and being so involved in the shows during her time at J-D. 

Throughout high school, Rubenstein was heavily involved with the school musicals, chorus, drama club, and In Achord. 

Some of her roles in high school include Madame Thénardier in Les Mis her freshman year, Alice Beane in Titanic the Musical her sophomore year, Rusty in Footloose her junior year, and Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast her senior year. 

Her teachers describe her as one of the most determined and goal-oriented students they have ever taught. “To watch Babs perform was like getting a Broadway performance on the high school stage. It was always a mesmerizing experience, as she had this unbelievable ability to draw you into whatever character she was portraying or whatever song she was singing,” says J-DHS chorus teacher Beth Quackenbush.

Rubenstein believes that J-D made her a hardworking, well-rounded individual. Strengths in her music and vocal technique have come from being a J-D student.

Outside of J-D, Rubenstein has still been still heavily involved with theatre. She was one of the original students at the Syracuse Children’s Theatre in 1999 and played roles such as Star To Be in Annie, Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz, and a step-sister in Cinderella.

Rubenstein knew she wanted to go into theatre ever since she was young. She has fond memories of her dad renting movie musicals from Blockbuster and was heavily influenced when she entered the Syracuse School of Dance in 1990-1991.

After graduating from J-D, she went to the Boston Conservatory for five years where she first majored in voice before switching to musical theatre. “All I did was theatre at school,” Rubenstein said. “I was always in an acting class, I had a voice and speech class, I had a movement class, I had a dance class. If I wasn’t doing music or theatre I was in a liberal arts class.” 

Rubenstein also mentions always being in rehearsal for a show while at the Conservatory. Some shows were Follies, in which she played Stella Deems, Urinetown, in which she played Old Women, Showboat, in which she played Mrs. O’Brien, and Rent, in which she played the homeless woman. Later she went on to play Maureen in Rent regionally.

After graduating from the Boston Conservatory, she has worked in regional theatres such as The Goodspeed Opera House, Seacoast Repertory Theater, New London Barn Playhouse, and the Hanna Theater. 

Rubenstein was also in Idol: The Musical in 2007 which was originally written and put on by students at Syracuse Children’s Theatre but then had an off-broadway run which Rubenstein starred in as Adrianne. 

Today Rubenstein is teaching students, pushing them to be the best they can be. “She’s really helped me grow and be more comfortable on stage and she’s pushed me to work harder than I would have if she wasn’t there,” says Maddie Hilt, who has been taught by Rubenstein since July 2020.

According to current student Jalynn Guido, “She pushes me and sees potential in me that I don’t see.”

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