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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Oaks’ Maggie Ruffcorn has voice with ‘force, beauty,’ plays mandolin in bluegrass band

By Jackson Frank For The Spokesman-Review

“iCloud Drive is my favorite thing,” said Maggie Ruffcorn, a senior at The Oaks Classical and Christian Academy who will attend Whitworth University in the fall.

As music from John Legend rang through the speakers at a local Starbucks, Ruffcorn sifted through the digital folders on her phone, searching for the essay prompt from this year’s Common Application. The prompt asked for students to write their personal statements about something “so meaningful their application would be incomplete without it.” For Ruffcorn, that’s theater.

She was introduced to theater at 8 years old when she played the role of munchkin coroner in “The Wizard of Oz.”

“A really nice gal from the community theater would come every other year and do ‘The Wizard of Oz’ at our school,” Ruffcorn said. “So I got to be in it three times between second grade, fourth grade and sixth grade.”

Since then, Ruffcorn has taken the stage for 14 more plays, including “Little Women” and “The Sound of Music.” However, three roles stand out as personal favorites: Mrs. Potts in “Beauty and the Beast,” Anne of Green Gables in the play of the same name, and Susan Pevensie in “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

“I’ve always loved those books,” she said. “So it’s always really fun for me to be able to embody a character that I’ve read about growing up.”

Teri Woodroof, theater director at The Oaks, also found joy in Ruffcorn’s portrayal of Mrs. Potts, explaining that the character possessed traits that mirror Ruffcorn’s compassion and “ability to love and embrace people without judgment.”

When Ruffcorn was in seventh grade, she visited The Oaks as a prospective student and attended the theater department’s rendition of “Fiddler on the Roof” with her grandmother.

“I was expecting to see a play that was similar to many shows I’d seen at other theater venues,” she said. “I was just astonished by the quality of The Oaks’ performance of ‘Fiddler.’ It was, hands down, the best musical production I’d ever seen.”

The next year, after transferring schools, Ruffcorn arrived at The Oaks as a newly minted eighth-grader. Two weeks into the year, auditions for “Tom Sawyer” were posted on the drama department’s bulletin board. Acclimating to life at a new school, Ruffcorn was unsure if throwing her name into the ring for a role was the best decision. Once she learned that a few of her new friends would be auditioning, her love for theater superseded any first-year nerves and she landed the role of Mrs. Harper, the town gossip.

“She has a voice with some force and some beauty,” Woodroof said in a phone interview. “Vocally, she’s added a huge amount to our choir, to our production. … And then, the fact that she is the shiny, glowy (person) that she is, on stage, that just magnifies out to the audience.”

The soon-to-be Whitworth Pirate doesn’t confine her musical talents to the halls of The Oaks. During the summer, her mother, cognizant of Ruffcorn’s affinity for stringed instruments, stumbled upon a mandolin at a garage sale and brought it home for her. In January, she joined a bluegrass band titled Kevin Pace and the Early Editions.

On May 26, Ruffcorn was scheduled to star as a homeless person, a Boylan sister and a house servant in “Annie” for her final musical at The Oaks.

Woodroof doesn’t want to envision The Oaks theater department without her, but one thing’s for sure: The waterworks will be flowing.

“Well, thankfully, Maggie has a little sister named Abby,” Woodroof joked. “You can’t replace Maggie. … When we’re honoring all of our seniors, I’ll be up there bawling like a baby.”

Jackson Frank is a student at Gonzaga University.

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