Dancer-actor Julia Juhas is a long way from home.
But there’s a reason for her travels: she’s following the yellow brick road with the Wizard of Oz cast, which has led all the way to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Juhas is the understudy for the Wicked Witch of the West, played by Jacquelun Piro Donovan, and is part of the ensemble cast in the show that ended an eight-month run at Ed Mirvish Theatre in August.
The Forest Hill resident joined the Troika company that had taken the show on tour for a couple of months already before the need to fill the witch position came up.
“It’s a dream role,” Juhas allowed.
There was warmth in her voice as she took five recently to talk to the Town Crier on the phone.
It was a tough decision, she said, since it entailed her having to give up the role of Cleo in the new Canadian musical Killer Business in December.
That it was brand new and she was looking forward to creating the character Cleo made the decision tough, but going on tour is something she always wanted to do, she said.
“These kinds of opportunities don’t come up very often and I don’t have kids or anything, so now’s the time to do it,” she said. “And I guess I’d miss the winter, so that was also appealing.”
A good portion of the Canadian cast of Oz is still intact, Juhas says, adding the experience so far has been “a blast.”
“Everyone is so welcoming and supportive. I knew quite a bit of the cast already, which was nice. Primarily, it’s a Canadian cast, which is pretty rare.”
Like any actor, she’s coy when asked about her age. But she does open up about her family. She has two brothers who are also active in the local music scene: Tom, a guitarist, and Sly, a drummer.
“There was always music playing in our house, and at parties sometimes my brothers would play and I would sing,” she recalls. “We’d do little shows when we had company.
“I would boss my brother around, to put on little performances, but as he got older that wasn’t cool anymore.”
Then there’s her partner Jason Soane, who made the move with her to Forest Hill from the Yonge and Dundas area.
Juhas admits it took some time to adjust to life in midtown.
“At first I was like, it feels so far from downtown, but there’s more trees and parks, and we got a dog,” she said, mirth rising in her voice. “I love it.
“It’s actually not that far. I just feel like Forest Hill is a great community of people.”
And there’s no place like home.