BWW Interview: Julianne Daly Lets It Go on the Disney Wonder
Scenic Design by James Sherwood
Currently sailing the high seas and freezing hearts with her magical powers in the new Disney Crusie Line production "Frozen, A Musical Spectacular' is mainstage performer Julianne Daly.
I was lucky enough to chat with the actress and hear about how her experience developing a new musical adaptation of this famous and well-loved Disney film, in addition to being a Disney Cruise ship performer.
Christopher Castanho: Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you're from, where you went to school--
Julianne Daly: I am from Burlington, Connecticut. I went to the Boston Conservatory for Musical Theatre, graduated in 2016 and now I'm currently on the Disney Wonder as a mainstage performer. I got the job in April and started rehearsing in August. I went to New York the summer after I graduated, moved into an apartment in Brooklyn. I got a job at a Yoga studio, sublet an apartment, and got the overall experience of living in the city. I actually didn't do anything theatre related, I just worked at the yoga studio and spent time with my friends in the city, which was really nice.
CC: What was your audition process like for this production?
JD: A teacher at Boston Conservatory sent out an email letting us know that there was an open call happening [for Disney Cruise Lines] and being in Boston it's easier to get to the city on short notice, but I knew someone who worked for Disney before and she ended up being the accompanist for the audition. I had a really easy in and she was able to get me an appointment, so I got to bypass the open call, which was so nice. I was able to get an appointment with the casting director Ron LaRosa and I got sides to learn from the show, I had "Let it Go", scenes for Elsa, but also brought Anna material just in case. The casting director had me sing a 32 bar cut, sang Elsa material, and then I got a callback for the director and creative team. A week later I had my callback and fell in love with the director, read with the girl who's playing my on-stage sister now. It was a shockingly easy audition process, which was nice. [Laughs]
CC: So you had two or three auditions?!
JD: I had two auditions, and then I found out maybe two weeks later. I was doing a reading [of a new musical] in New York and I was in the pouring rain on the street when I got this call. It was funny.
CC: How long are you contracted to do Frozen and be on the cruise?
JD: We started rehearsal in Toronto August 4th, and then we went to the boat on October 11th, but the boat had been docked in Spain. They just completed 'dry-dock' which is when they tear the ship apart and renovate it. That had been going on for 3 months before we got there, but when we got to Spain it was still being renovated, so we were teching Frozen in Spain while the ship was getting redone, so it was a little chaotic. [Laughs] We were actually living off the ship on this smaller boat next to the ship while they were working on it, it was crazy. We teched for two and half weeks, and then we did a ten-day crossing of the Atlantic, where we had more dress rehearsal. On November 4th we had 'Shake Down Cruises' where we have all these media people come, news channels, and we had some test cruises with people who've worked for Disney before, testing out the show and ship renovations. So that was like our soft opening and previews, our official opening was November 10th.
CC: Tell me about the creative team for Frozen, as it was a new production--
JD: We had an amazing creative team. Sheryl Kaller was our director, who did "Mother and Sons" on Broadway, she's done mostly plays, which is also a reason why I loved her a lot, even though it's 'Disney' she's always approached the material very honestly. She's very motherly and so wonderful to work with, I really hope I get to work with her again. Our choreographer was Josh Prince, who choreographed "Beautiful" on Broadway, so he has done a lot of cool things. Though I do not dance in the show [Laughs] I really appreciate his work on the show and think he's a really sweet guy. Our costume designer Paloma Young did "Peter and the Starcatcher" and "Tangled" another production on a Disney Cruise ship, her costumes are just gorgeous. And our music director was Marco Paguia, who was awesome. I really just loved everyone who I worked with, I think our creative cast is incredible and definitely one of the highlights of this job.
CC: Are you in any other shows on the ship?
JD: We do three mainstage shows on my ship: Frozen, The Golden Mickeys, and Disney Dreams: An Enchanted Classic. So the mainstage performers are in all three. In the Golden Mickeys I play Ensign Benson, who is like the stage manager but then becomes the host. In "Dreams" I'm in a little bit of everything, and then I'm in the new production of "Frozen". Frozen is definitely my favorite to do, not because of my role, but because it's something that my cast helped create, as it's the first production of this adaptation. It's brand new and I feel very connected to it, and the kids get so into it, for me Frozen is the most fulfilling to perform.
CC: What's your weekly schedule look like?
JD: If there's a seven day cruise we perform the shows three out of those seven nights, which is nice [Laughs]. We only do one show a night, and some people are in smaller shows, like we have a pirate night on board so some people are in a little pirate show up on the deck. I was in the Christmas show when it was Christmas time...I also help greet characters, regulating lines and being there to help organize the photo-op with Mickey, but I only have to do that for a couple hours every week. My main job is being a performer, which is great.
CC: What do you do to pass your time when not working?
JD: When we're in port I usually get off the ship and go explore. I also go to the pool quite often and the gym, I've been reading a lot of books. We play a lot of games on board, we LOVE bananagrams, it's a big hit for my friends and I.
CC: What's been the favorite location you've docked at so far?
JD: I love Mexico! We're about to do the Panama Canal trip, which I feel is going to be amazing, like going to Puerto Vallarta and Cabo, which should be really fun. So I'm sure my answer will change after that. We're actually in a stint right now where we only are traveling between two places, but most of our contract was going to a bunch of different ports, so that was really nice. But every Disney cruise has those month and half time frames where you travel between two locations.
CC: What's your favorite location within your cruise ship?
JD: We have this little cafe, it's called "Cove Cafe" and it's this little coffee shop, there are two floors and if you go to the top floor it's the highest deck on the ship. It's a really nice quiet place to hang out, if you have a group of friends that's a great place to play games or read. That's one of my favorite places to go chill out on the ship.
CC: What are you planning on doing after you're done?
JD: My 9-month contract will be done May 7th, and I'm going to go home [to Connecticut] for the month of May and then I'm moving into a new apartment in the city on June 1st.
Helmed by Tony Award-nominated director Sheryl Kaller ("Next Fall," "Mothers and Sons"). Tony Award-winning costume designer Paloma Young ("Peter and the Starcatcher"), choreographer Josh Prince ("Beautiful: The Carole King Musical"), scenic designer Jason Sherwood ("Paint Your Wagon"), and writer Sara Wordsworth ("In Transit").
"Frozen, a Musical Spectacular" features music direction by Marco Paguia, projection design by Aaron Rhyne and lighting design by Rui Rita. Dynamic puppetry by Michael Curry, whose designs are featured in Disney's Tony Award-winning Broadway musical "The Lion King," bring exciting physicality to characters like Sven and Olaf.