Posted by Bruce Miller
Many thanks to Duke Lafoon (and Juli Robbins’ family friend Sara) for responding to my last blog post. Turns out that the Juli Robbins who is now costarring with Duke in A Wonderful Life at Westchester Broadway Theatre is the same Juli whom I fondly remember as “the girl that I marry” in Barksdale’s 2003 hit production of Annie Get Your Gun. She's pictured to the left.
In Annie Get, I decided to ask a woman from the ensemble to join in the number "The Girl That I Marry" with Russell Rowland (Frank Butler) and Robyn O’Neill (Annie Oakley). I wanted someone who was petite and picture perfect to represent the ideal “sweet young thing” whom Annie Oakley imagines when Frank Butler describes the girl of his dreams. I picked Juli because she was, and is, about as adorable as a woman can be.
“The girl that I marry,” sings Frank Butler, “will have to be as soft and as pink as a nursery. A doll I can carry, the girl that I marry must be.”
In true Annie Oakley fashion, Robyn began referring to Juli, good naturedly, as “pretty perfect little Juli.” As in … when I would say something like, “Robyn, when you come out in this ball gown to meet Frank for the first time in years, I want you to dazzle him.” To which Robyn would reply … “Well why don’t you bring on pretty perfect little Juli?”
I guess you had to be there. But it was all good clean fun, having to do with the fact that Juli was remarkably pretty and fully capable of sweeping every guy in the room off his feet without even having to try.
It’s great to know that Juli’s many talents are gaining recognition now in markets larger than Richmond. From what I can gather from a quick Google search, Juli’s last two years have been pretty busy as she continues to build a career on both coasts.
On Feb 9, 2007, she opened in a revival of the Off-Broadway hit Song of Singapore at the International City Theatre in Long Beach, CA. When that show closed in March 2007, she moved immediately into the role of Lady Anne in the national tour of Camelot, starring Michael York (originally) and Lou Diamond Phillips (replacement), produced by McCoy Rigby Entertainment, the professional production company of Cathy Rigby and her husband.
She stayed with the national tour for more than a year, finally leaving to play a featured role in the World Premiere of a new opera version of Paradise Lost at Boston Court in Los Angeles (see photo immediately above and to the right). After the opera closed in September, Juli was cast in another production of Camelot, only this time she won the leading role of Guenevere and appeared opposite the King Arthur of Broadway leading man Robert Cuccioli (Jekyll & Hyde) at the White Plains Performing Arts Center in New York (see the photo below with Cuccioli and the photo two above with other cast members). That show closed in October, and she opened opposite Duke in A Wonderful Life in November at the Westchester Broadway Theatre just a few weeks later.
I continue to think it’s GREAT when a rising Richmond star establishes a national career. Just as we were able to lure Duke back for Doubt (and David Winning for The Full Monty and Susan Sanford for The Little Dog Laughed, etc. etc. etc.), perhaps we will one day welcome a nationally prominent Juli back to Richmond for a return engagement.
Until then, see you at the theatre!