Sunday, January 6, 2013

I interviewed the talented Lorrisa Julianus who will be playing Zenobia in the musical this summer in Bolingbrook, Illinois.

Matt Grotto & Lorrisa Julianus
copyright Photography by Craig J. Engel

Check out the promotional video of Zenobia the musical:

Lorrisa, thanks for letting me interview you; I love to meet other Zenobia fans. I am very excited to see you play Zenobia in the musical at the Bolingbrook, Illinois Theater on the Hill, coming out summer of 2013!

Thank you, Julie! I'm so glad you found our promotional video online. I look forward to seeing you at the show and to reading Russ' book series about our favorite lady.

What first got you interested in Zenobia?

I have been obsessed with the ancient world since I was six years old and would watch Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments over and over. I met Zenobia in a book about historical heroines when I was 14. She stood out to me because the book described her as 14 when she became queen and married Odaenathus, the king of Palmyra. What stuck with me was the particular version of her history that this book related--that after her defeat, she was spared by Emperor Aurelian and married a senator. From that moment I wanted to write a musical about her, but it took me until 2010 to find my amazing composing partner, Angela Salvaggione.

You wrote the play and lyrics, how long did it take you to write it?

I wrote character ideas years ago but began writing in earnest in the fall of 2010. First reading with a group of theatre folk was April 2012. The tweaks and improvements never really end, and I’m sure we’ll be making adjustments right up to opening night.

Where did you get your ideas while writing the play?

That’s the hardest question to answer! Nobel-prize winning author Henryk Sienkiewicz has indirectly influenced my writing for the last fourteen years, along with classics like Ben-Hur (the film) and The Robe (the book). The villainess Diana was inspired by real-life women who have delivered identical lines. (Lord, I hope they don’t expect royalties!) My husband Craig was the first one to read the script and gave very helpful ideas that established the early relationship between Zenobia and her first love, Alexander. Significant credit is also due to Angela, who actively composed the music while I wrote the book, and was a great partner in fine-tuning lyrics and developing song concepts. Dreamworks’ The Prince of Egypt, composed by Stephen Schwartz, has been a favorite film musical of mine since 1998, as are many Disney musicals. Likewise, humor, romance, intrigue, and universal mythologies are all important parts of Zenobia the musical. It is decidedly PG-13, however. The violence and cruelty of Zenobia’s world is juxtaposed with the power of love and the human spirit, even beyond the grave. Lastly, I incorporated themes from the front page of the newspaper (back when those still were printed), such as the entitlement of the “one percent”. In an eerie echo of the self-obsessed aristocrats in my musical, Newsweek had a fascinating 2012 article about the privileged class of modern Syria partying while Damascus literally burns.

Not only are you a great actress but you also are an artist; How did you get started in that? Where can someone see your work?

I’ve been sketching portraits for years but began painting seriously during the recession of 2009. Caravaggio and Michelangelo are my idols, and I’ve been an art history enthusiast for years. I gravitate to the human form as subject, and began showing at galleries and winning awards rather quickly. My work has been at the Brigantine Gallery of Downers Grove, the Hinsdale Gallery, Balmain Art & Antiques of Nassau, Bahamas, and many libraries throughout Chicagoland. Best way to see my portfolio is to check out my Facebook page, “The Art of Lorrisa Julianus, ‘Embrace the Night.’”

How did you get involved in Acting?

We couldn’t afford to see theatre when I was growing up, but my actor uncle managed to get us comp tickets to his performances and that’s when my love affair with acting and playwrighting began.

How many plays have you done so far?

I really have no idea. A lot!

I know the play comes out summer of 2013; are exact dates set? And how does one get tickets?

It looks like we’ll be doing a free show as part of Bolingbrook’s Jubilee, a huge town fest in mid-August. We’ll be kicking off the weekend’s events with our premiere Thursday, August 16th. Seating is outdoor and unlimited; we are expecting up to 1,000 people, as that was the average attendance for last year’s free summer concerts at the same venue. We will also run as a ticketed show Labor Day weekend (far better chances for good seats); check back at closer to show dates.

Scott Bovaird as Danathus & Lorrisa Julianus as Zenobia
copyright Photography by Michelle Ho

The Interview will continue on Tuesday, Check back for more inside information on Lorrisa Julianus.

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