After graduating in English and Drama at The University of Bristol, Julia got her first theatre job at York Theatre Royal as an Actor/Stage Manager playing many different parts in one of Berwick Kaler’s famous pantomimes , “Jack and the Beanstalk”.
Clutching her newly earned Equity card, she set off for the gold strewn streets of London to share a flat with the Fairy Godmother and to start her professional career doing “Infiltration” Performance Art with The Phantom Captain Theatre Company at Jackson’s Lane, Highgate.
Soon she had managed to secure a season at The Theatre Royal Stratford East, but was disappointed to find that the three plays she had signed to do had become two due to changes in management, and the entire company was offered a release from their contract.
Unbeknownst to either of them, Julia and another young actress called Belinda Lang began a friendship during this upheaval which was to return to haunt them years later as Rona and Bill in the BBC’s hit sitcom “2 Point 4 Children”!
However, both young women left for pastures new, and after her appearances in “Does This Train Stop at Southend?” by Rony Robinson and Gary Yershon ,and “Puntila and his Man Matti” starring Tom Wilkinson, Julia left East London to return to Bristol to play a straitlaced Salvation Army Girl alongside a very unlaced Hot Box Dancer in the BOV Christmas production of “Guys and Dolls” with Dilys Watling and Peter Postlethwaite.
This joyous production began a long association with the Bristol Old Vic, and Julia was thrilled to be invited to stay on in the Company to play First Fairy opposite Nickolas Grace’s Puck in Richard Cottrell’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” which then went on to transfer to the Old Vic in London later that year.
She stayed with the BOV Company for the following season under the new artistic directorship of John David, and was used in every production in either the main house or the studio.
On leaving The Bristol Old Vic, Julia joined the RSC where she worked her way up through the ranks to play Perdita to Patrick Stewart’s Leontes in “The Winter’s Tale,” Diana in “All’s Well That Ends Well” starring Dames Harriet Walter and Peggy Ashcroft, and Ann Ratcliffe in “The Witch of Edmonton” with Miriam Karlin, Harriet Walter and Juliet Stevenson.
She created the role of Rusty in Peter Flannery’s world premiere of “Our Friends in the North” and Sally Forth in Peter Nichol’s and Monty Norman’s world premiere of “Poppy” – both productions were showpieces to launch the Barbican which was the RSC’s new London home at the time.
After leaving the RSC, Julia spent a few months in Manchester appearing in Noel Coward’s “The Vortex” and the world premiere of Ewan MacColl’s “Shore Saints and Sea Devils” with the Manchester Library Theatre Company before a new television comedy career raised her profile and led to leading roles in West End musicals.
“The Hired Man” (for which she received the Laurence Olivier Award nomination for the “Actress of the Year in a Musical”)
The Emmy award winning production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” at The Savoy Theatre with Lulu and Ernie Wise.
Julia then spent a very happy time at The Orange Tree Theatre Richmond exploring new work such as “Dealing with Clair” by Martin Crimp with Tom Courtenay and John Michie, and “We the Undersigned” by Alexander Gelman.
It was during this production that Julia discovered she was pregnant with her first child, and she went on to appear in “Beside Herself” by Sarah Daniels at The Royal Court wearing baggy clothes as Shirley to disguise her growing bump! She was always intrigued that the clothes moved as the baby kicked during the same scene every night; perhaps she was carrying an unborn theatre critic?
She stopped work 3 months before the birth.
Throughout the 1990s, the demands of a growing family of 3 children alongside the long running BBC sitcom “2 Point 4 Children” led to Julia making fewer theatre appearances.
It was 12 years after the Royal Court that Julia first stepped back onto a stage as Betty in “Larkin with Women” at The Belgrade Theatre Coventry. She was living in the Midlands at the time, and enjoyed working close to home, which led to her accepting the role of Vera in “Stepping Out” at the New Vic Theatre Stoke, and commuting daily to Watford to play Eve in another Sarah Daniels piece adapted from Sandi Toskvig’s novel “Flying Under Bridges” directed by Joyce Branagh.
Since then, Julia has returned to the theatre with relish, and has worked more on stage than anywhere else in recent years.
She was cast as Ruth in the original stage production of “Calendar Girls” by Tim Firth which began its life at Chichester Festival Theatre before embarking on a national tour which finally settled at The Noel Coward Theatre in London’s West End for four months in the Summer of 2009.
She returned to that production over the Christmas of 2009/2010, before rejoining the current national tour in July 2010 to take over the central role of Annie opposite her real life friend Elaine C. Smith as Chris.
Julia returned to her roots in Bristol at the beginning of this year to play both the Duchess of York and Gloucester in the recent Shakespeare at The Tobacco Factory production of “Richard II”, and was inspired by the ethos of the company and the joy of sounding the words of Shakespeare again