It’s Ripley, believe it or not: Orange County eight-year-old Ripley Sobo lights up Broadway and represents the Hudson Valley.
All kids play make-believe at some point or another. But Orange County’s Ripley Sobo has taken the childhood game to the next level. Only eight years old, she has landed a major role in Once, the Broadway show that took home eight Tonys this year, including Best Musical. She plays Ivanka, the daughter of the show’s female lead.
Ripley auditioned in November and — after only one callback — was offered the part. She leaped right into rehearsals, memorizing her lines and songs before beginning performances in February. As with many young Broadway actors, she splits the role with another girl; Ripley performs at five of the week’s eight shows, although she is required to be at the theater for all of them. “But I don’t get tired,” she says.
Sobo with her stage mother, Cristin Milioti, on opening night
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Being on stage in front of an audience of hundreds of people is second nature to the young star. “I’m nervous sometimes, but not usually,” she says. “I consider myself really brave.” According to her mother Anh, Ripley took to the stage immediately. “We tried soccer and gymnastics with her, but the only things that stuck were the singing and acting,” says the proud parent. “She just loves it.”
In addition to commuting to the city every day, Ripley also attends classes at public school twice a week; when she is at the theater, her teacher compiles a homework packet that she completes backstage with a tutor. Anh says the school has been extremely accommodating, and that her teachers even came to cheer Ripley on.
Through it all, Ripley still has time to be a kid. “I like to hula hoop, jump rope, and run around,” she says. She’s also learning to manage the money she earns. “I bought a couple of toys,” she reveals. “But my dad said that I could get a pet once the show is over, so I have the choice between a Chinese hamster or a ferret.”
Once is just the first stop for Ripley. “She’s still doing auditions and we have a few things lined up for next year,” Anh says. “I can’t believe what she’s doing at eight years old. And she’s good at it!”