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She'll Get You

If Julie Johnson hasn't already grabbed you with her Patsy Cline, her new variety show will get you.

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This balance includes songs from her country-flavored debut CD "All Grown Up … So Far," plus a little jazz and well-known Broadway show favorites in addition to Patsy Cline songs and tunes made famous by Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton. She hopes the variety will please old fans and make new friends while giving all a better taste of her talents.

"I like to think of it as a variety show," Johnson explains. "If somebody isn't particularly a country music fan, they'll hear something they like."

Raised Texas-proud in a town near Dallas, Julie came by her musical diversity naturally, growing up hearing everything from Broadway show tunes to George Jones. Her folks were not entertainers, but Johnson says she never thought of any pursuit except music and performing. She did her first show at age 3 and continued her interests into college where she earned a degree in theater arts.

Johnson says she's always loved singing but after college she focused on mating her voice with her acting skills. Acting in the Dallas area in the '80s, Johnson landed her first New York job in an off-Broadway play. She was reluctant to go at first but decided to give it a try.

"I never intended to leave Texas but I figured the gods were telling me something," she says.

The following twentysome years have been an ongoing job-interview process, but it is a process Johnson can apparently work.

"Knock wood. I haven't had much trouble with that," she says with a hint of good-natured Texas twang. "You let me get one toe in the door and get ready. The rest of me is coming."

Johnson stays busy as her talents have carried her around the South and up the East Coast to The Big Apple. In addition to musical theater roles, her steadiest gig has been a 10-year stint as the voice of Baby Bop on PBS' "Barney and Friends." She also landed small roles in a couple of movies, including Robert Duval's "The Apostle," and she has a second pop and country CD in the planning stages. But, for now, 16 shows at TheatreVirginia are in her sights and Julie is clearly pleased to return to Richmond.

"I've developed a little triangle of Dallas, New York and Richmond. I'd be happy with that for the rest of my life. There's nothing I like more than to stand in front of a hot band and sing the music I love." S



Julie Johnson's "From Nashville to Broadway" runs July 26 through Aug.11 at TheatreVirginia, 2800 Grove Ave. Tickets cost $25 to $35. Call 1-877-353-6161 for details.

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