julia prudencio feature

Julia Prudencio: Home on the stage

From singing to acting to dancing, junior Julia Prudencio has been involved in various categories in the performing arts. Currently a lead actor for the spring drama “Mary Poppins,” Prudencio has journeyed through a myriad of musical theater experiences that helped mold her expertise.

Growing up in Boston, Massachusetts, Prudencio was exposed to its rich artistic culture and began vocal and dance lessons when she was seven years old.

“The first musical I saw, ‘The Little Mermaid,’ really inspired me to explore theater, so I got involved in the community theater productions and extracurricular arts activities around where I lived,” Prudencio said.

After moving to the west coast in fifth grade because of family reasons, Prudencio enrolled in South Pointe Middle School and advanced into Diamond Bar High School before transferring to the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) for her sophomore year to develop her artistic talent. Throughout these years, she performed in several shows, including “Wizard of Oz,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Peter Pan.”

“[OCSA] is a very competitive school. The environment is like the real world and entertainment industry because there are students who are already working with television companies or professionals. The instructors there have had Broadway experience. It was an enriching environment, and I learned a lot,” Prudencio said.

However, because of the long commute hours to OCSA, Prudencio decided to come to Walnut for her junior year. She joined the Rhapsody in Blue choir and auditioned for both musical theater productions this year, including the ensemble for the fall show “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and a lead role for the spring show “Mary Poppins,” in which she plays Mary.

“I see Mary as the nanny who comes in to save the disjointed relationships around her. She fixes everything and makes everyone united again, not just within the family but also everywhere she goes,” Prudencio said. “She brings out the joy in everyone.”

To prepare for the role, Prudencio examined the script to grasp the character’s personality and trained with the other actors during rehearsals to improve their cohesiveness.

“You can’t just read the scenes that you’re in because you have to connect to all characters in the show,” Prudencio said. “The director gives directions, but the emotional aspects need to come from the actors themselves. You won’t really bring out the true emotion unless you’re rehearsing the reactions with others.”

Since “Mary Poppins” takes place in London in the 1910s, Prudencio practiced her accent with a vocal coach whom she had started training with since eighth grade.

“‘Mary Poppins’ is the first show in which I have to maintain an accent throughout the entire duration. It is the bulk of the show, and I had to work on it really hard. It carries through the way you shape your vowels and tone,” Prudencio said. “My coach helped me a lot with the breathing and vocal techniques of this show.”

To support her interests, Prudencio’s family and friends attend many of her shows and activities.

“I’ve had over 40 people come [support me] for the ‘Mary Poppins’ show. Some come from San Diego, Riverside and all over California. They have been supportive ever since I was in my first musical, and this has been my first major show in about two years,” Prudencio said.

Although the entertainment industry may involve heavy competition for opportunities to perform, Prudencio plans on attending a performing arts college in the future and hopes to eventually record her own music.

“The theater industry does not provide a guaranteed career. You always have to put yourself out there. One of the hardest things is having to differentiate yourself from all the competition, and you kind of just have to find your best qualities and make those stand out when you audition,” Prudencio said. “I think my voice has been my strong suit, as I have been singing for so long. With singing came dancing and acting, but singing has always been my greatest passion.”

By Caroline Huang, Staff writer
Photo by Anna Yu