Orange County Theatre Reviews

JuliaCassandraSmithHeadshot

Written by Alina Mae Wilson  

Since I had already seen her perform twice in the musical Loch Ness, I of course knew what she looked like. But no matter how much you prepare yourself, no matter how clearly you understand there is a difference between actors and the individuals they play, there is still a little jolt of surprise when you see a person you liked so much onstage amble over looking absolutely nothing like their character. In this case Julia looked so…so…mature. As Haley in Loch Ness, she was a twelve year old sometime in the early nineties. But instead of loose jeans and a giant plaid sweater, the Julia who greeted me was wearing boots, tight jeans, and an oversized tang top. I don’t think she could have looked more suited to the casually creative environment if she actually wanted to. Her appearance prompted me to make a confession. “When you responded to the email I sent you, my friend saw me staring at the computer and asked ‘what’s wrong?’ I told him ‘nothing, it’s just she sounds so ADULT!!!'” I hung my head. Julia laughed, and my comedic sensibilities felt validated. “Oh good, that was funny. We’re off to a good start!” What followed was a basic Q and A session.

 

Q: Where are you from and what made you want to go into theater?

 

A: I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area, so I’m a Northern California native. I’ve been singing all my life really. In fifth grade, one of my very good friends, who remains my only close friend from middle school, was like do you want to audition for the school musical with me? It was Fiddler on the Roof and I was like, okay why not. I just fell in love with it.

 

Q: Where did you go to college?

 

A: I went to Texas State for Musical Theatre for a couple of years and then I moved here (Orange County) about a year and a half ago.

 

Q: The arts are often viewed as unstable. How does your family feel about your career choice?

 

A: My family is incredibly supportive. I’ve been very lucky in that way. My parents are actually financial consultants. So they’re not artists at all. But my sister works in fashion. She’s much older then I am. So we’re both artistic people, and they [my parents] have been very supportive ever since I was young. They have always encouraged me to do what I love.

 

Q: How has the OC experience measure up against your expectations?

 

A: It is a lot richer in theatre then I thought it was. I’m from Northern California and kind of had this internal hatred of Southern California [jokingly]; it was just ingrained within me. Also I always thought of it as a film and television area. When I moved here, there were a lot more opportunities then I realized, especially in Orange County –lots of opportunities and lots of great companies.

 

Q: Looking young was a clear asset in the show Loch Ness. Has it ever been a burden?

 

A: Slightly, there is one show I went in for a little while ago. The director asked me if I was even over 18, and I was like, “Yeah! I just look younger. And he was like, “Its too bad because you’re too old for the 8 year old girl but too young for the rest of the ensemble.” But I know it’s only a benefit because I can play young for a long time; I can play teenagers for a long time, and when I out grow that, I’ll play adults, and it just means I can work longer. Ultimately it’s a benefit, and I’m glad to look young and grateful.

 

Q: You mentioned that you are moving away soon.  Why is that?

 

A: I think there is a lot that is in LA, which is why I’m moving there. It’s just closer to so many auditions. So it’s going to be closer to everything.

 

Q: What was it like working on Loch Ness?

 

A: Working on Loch Ness is one of the coolest things I’ve ever worked on.  I didn’t know if getting casted was going to work out because I was going on a family vacation to Europe right when they were doing callbacks. I emailed them and was like, “I can’t make call backs, and I can only make one day of auditions. I don’t know if it’s going to work.”

 

Q: And they were ok with that?

 

A: I kind of went in and did auditions and call backs all in the same hour. Then I flew across the world, and they called me when I was in London. I had just finished seeing Once when I was in London –one of my favorite shows.  I was on this love of theatre high, and then they called me and said we want you to do Loch Ness, and it was like the best night ever.

 

Q:What was it like creating this character?

 

A: First of all Marshall Pailet, who co-wrote and directed it, is incredible. So brilliant, so talented and one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with. He’s so open to what you want to bring to the part. He’s so open to working with all of your ideas, just very flexible and very easy going.

 

Q: How do you feel knowing that you may not play Haley again?

 

A: It is sad. If they do the show again, I’d love to be a part of it. But I may or may not outgrow it. If they re-mount it, it could be years from now. But I feel great being the first to do it. So I feel good leaving a dent in that show. I have so much faith in the writing team and what they are going to do with it. Where ever it goes from here, it’s going to be great.

 

Q: What was the hardest part of doing this show?

 

A: It was very physically demanding show. In some ways I had it easy because I got to sit down on the box and they pushed me around on the box. But playing a 12 year old was so much work. Children have so much energy I do not have. Everything was just so high energy and so high stakes the whole time. Vocally the character was draining, not singing wise but speaking wise. She kind of shouts in a higher register. It was really exhausting. It felt like it was a work out every night.

 

Les Mis was at Spreckles Theater in Northern California 

Anything Goes – high school production

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