Julie Johnson is currently playing Edie in the new musical CHASING THE SONG at La Jolla Playhouse. We had a lovely phone conversation about the process. Her Southern charm and kindness was infectious. I can’t wait to see her on stage soon!
The Playbill Collector (TPC): What was the process for getting started in CHASING THE SONG?
Julie Johnson (JJ): In the 90’s, I worked with Director, Chris Ashley Off- Broadway in a show called DAS BARBECU. Then I moved home to Texas to have my son. Years later, I got a call about playing Mama in the first National Tour in MEMPHIS. The same creative team is working on this show so I have woven a huge fabric getting to this point.
JJ: I get to work in the part of the project when it’s just starting. Usually you are re-creating something that someone else has already created. This time I am part of the creation. The creative team will watch us do the show one night with the audience and come back with some re-writes the next day. It’s fantastic and always evolving.
TPC: What’s the premise of the show?
JJ: CHASING THE SONG is centered around a middle aged woman named Edie (my role) who owns her own song shop in the Brill Building in New York City. Edie would push songs much like an agent. She is a female in a man’s world. It’s her journey and what she had to give up in her life. Her daughter is a perspective song writer and you get an inside look into how their relationship develops from combative to professional and back to mother-daughter.
TPC: How large is the cast?
JJ: There are fourteen people in the cast. There is a group of seven actors who play multiple instruments, sing and act. They are incredible! The cast is so versatile and I love working with them. On top of that, we have a band behind the partition who are all local San Diego musicians. It’s like a fabulous supper, everyone has brought a great dish!
TPC: Are all the songs originals?
JJ: Yes, there are no jukebox songs. Joe DiPietro wrote the book and lyrics. David Bryan wrote the music and lyrics. They are all story songs that drive the dialogue.
TPC: How has the feedback been?
JJ: We started with a good script and songs. It’s building and getting better nightly. The show is gelling more. We are literally taking the words from people who come to the talk backs after the show and try to fix it. The La Jolla audiences that are coming to see the show are part of the process. Their responses are taken to heart. It is proof of what the theater is all about; you (as actors) don’t know how the show is until the audience comes. The audience’s energy and responses feeds the actors tremendously.
TPC: What’s the next step?
JJ: Right now we are focused on the here and now. I’m loving being in La Jolla and have really appreciated the audiences reactions and feedback. We will see what’s next!
For more information on CHASING THE SONG: https://www.lajollaplayhouse.