Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's a Wonderful Mystery

Posted by Bruce Miller
Scott Wichmann is not the only actor making headlines these days in the role of George Bailey. Duke Lafoon, who recently starred at Barksdale as Father Flynn in Doubt, was Richmond’s original George Bailey. He was a sensation in that role at TheatreVirginia in the mid-90s when they presented the musical version of the holiday classic, called A Wonderful Life. Now Duke is dazzling audiences in the same role yet again, starring in the musical at Westchester Broadway Theatre from Nov 20 through Feb 8.

Westchester is the longest running 52-week-a-year Equity theatre in the state of New York. A for-profit dinner theatre, Westchester opened in 1974 under the name An Evening Dinner Theatre. Over the last 34 years, Westchester has become a cultural mainstay in the tri-state area.

Westchester does all of its casting out of the Big Apple, but after reading their recent press releases and looking at their cast photos, I can’t help but wonder if there aren’t two Richmond musical stars playing leads in A Wonderful Life. There’s Duke, of course, but costarring with Duke, playing his wife Mary, is a beautiful young actress named Juli Robbins.

Some of you may remember that Juli Robbins was a gorgeous Richmond actress about five years ago, standing out in the ensemble of Barksdale’s hit production of Annie Get Your Gun, and shortly thereafter playing the lead in Spitfire Grill at Swift Creek.

Juli left town for bigger markets shortly after Spitfire, and honestly, I’ve lost track of her. I’ve been looking and looking at the photo above and to the left, and I can’t tell for sure if that is our Juli Robbins whom Duke is holding in his arms or some other city’s Juli Robbins.

Whoever reads this blog and can solve the mystery, please comment. Shoot, maybe I’ll just pick up the phone on Monday and give Duke a call.

Till then, break a leg to Duke and Juli. I hope to see the two of them (and each of you) in a Richmond theatre soon!

--Bruce Miller


Sara said...

I am a friend of the family. It is the same charming, lovable Juli from Spitfire. She also has been seen as Lady Guinevere lately. Thanks for the photo and keeping up with her!

Duke Lafoon said...

Thank you so much Bruce! You just made a long two show day so much easier. And yes! You're right. That is Richmond's Juli Robbins and she is simply amazing! We had never met before the first day of reahersal so imagine my surprise when we began to talk and realized we knew all the same wonderful people. A small world for sure. She is really terrific and I'm a little sorry Richmond didn't get to see more of her.
And speaking of sorry, I'm sad that I can't get away to see Scotty bring this great film to life. I hear you...the guy is brilliant! I know it must be beautiful.