Juliana Hansen Returns for 3rd annual One Starry Night in Pasadena.
When I was invited to attend One Starry Night: A Special Performance to Conquering ALS, I was not quite sure what to expect. A variety show at The Pasadena Playhouse? With all-star names? It was one of the first charity events I had covered, and I was thrilled for the chance to dress up, and return to Pasadena Playhouse with Michael, whom I had seen The Playhouse’s 12 Angry Men with, on our humble 3rd date, a few months prior.
Fast forward 3 years, and One Starry Night continues to be one of the best fundraisers put on yearly in Los Angeles, by The ALS Association’s Golden West chapter. Returning once again to The Pasadena Playhouse, One Starry Night, and its honorary Co-Chairs, Mari Winsor and Miley Cyrus, invite you to come on out to this star-studded evening of music, theatre, magic, comedy and award ceremonies.
This year, One Starry Night is proud to honor the hit documentary, Gleason. The 2016 Sundance Film Festival goes inside the life of former NFL star Steve Gleason, the former New Orleans Saints defensive back who, in 2011 at the age of 34, was diagnosed with ALS and given a life expectancy of two to five years. Weeks later, Gleason found out his wife, Michel, was expecting their first child. A video journal that began as a gift for his unborn son expands to chronicle Steve’s determination to live as fully as possible. The film highlights his mission that people with ALS can not only live but thrive after this diagnosis, along with many of the extraordinary successes achieved by the Gleason Initiative Foundation (“Team Gleason”), including the creation of the “Team Gleason House for Innovative Living” and the passage of “The Steve Gleason Act” which assures the availability of life-sustaining communication devices for people with ALS and other diseases. Distributed by Amazon Studios and Open Road Films, “GLEASON” has received glowing reviews both from audiences and news outlets including the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Rolling Stone and Variety, to name a few.
I had the pleasure to chat with Co-Creator and Producer, as well as One Starry Night performer, Juliana Hansen, about her unstoppable, creative life, playing Mary Poppins and what she hopes attendees take away from this evening….
Mary: When did your journey in the performing arts begin? Do you come from a creative/artistic family?
Juliana: I’ve been in the entertainment industry since I was very young. I began modeling with one of the top agencies in San Francisco when I was 4 years old, I did my first musical when I was 5 years old, my first national commercial at age 7, and my first television starring role and voice over lead (The Land Before Time IV) by the time I was 9. I have always loved acting and singing. I grew up with music in the house, as my dad was a professional musician for over 30 years. My mom is very creative, too. She has done everything from wardrobe for films to makeup for shoots, to producing music videos! They were terrific about exposing me to great art at a young age and have always encouraged my pursuits in the industry.
You blew me away at last years One Starry Night with your Mary Poppins performance! What was the experience like playing such an iconic role?
Playing Mary Poppins was the dream coming true that I never even knew I had dreamed! When my agent called me with the audition, I laughed. I never thought I could fill Julie’s (Andrews) shoes, but I discovered so much about the character of Mary and myself throughout the process.
I did tons of research, because I wanted to incorporate to P.L. Travers’ version of Mary; the only one Julie Andrews had to go off of as well as give the audience reminiscent moment’s of Julie’s Mary – who we all grew up loving, while still making her my own. No small task. Top that off with the knowledge that Richard M. Sherman (my mentor and very dear friend) would be in the audience on opening night…. That’s was a lot of pressure! I wanted to do my absolute best, and also leave the audience with a huge gift and a lot of love. The run was too short, and I hope to revisit Mary several times over!
What has it been like working with Richard Sherman?
Working with Richard is one of the greatest gifts of my life thus far. And it is ALWAYS amazing… every single time. He is truly one of the top 5 kindest people I’ve ever known, and I’ve learned so much from him. He is a genius and a total pro, and I’m just so honored that he has made me his muse. I feel like a modern-day Julie, Annette (Funicello) and Hayley (Mills)- which is surreal, as these are ALL women I’ve admired and looked up to my whole life. I’m incredibly grateful that I can give Richard the gift of being reunited with Hayley Mills for our third Annual ONE STARRY NIGHT and help them to make Disney history by bringing them together to duet, for the very first time, on Let’s Get Together from the Parent Trap (a song Hayley has declined singing for nearly 50 years).
Can you tell me a little about One Starry Night and how it was conceived? How did you get on board?
I created and Produced ONE STARRY NIGHT in 2013, with my friend Jonathan White. After seeing my one woman show, Juliana Hansen- Live At The Federal (album available on Kritzerland records) wanting to produce my show in a larger venue, namely The Pasadena Playhouse. It was my idea to produce a much bigger show together one that would do good in the world and raise awareness in Hollywood for an under champions cause. We chose the ALS fight because we both had people dear to our hearts suffer from the disease, and we felt like, in the Entertainment community, ALS was such a little championed cause. This was before the ice bucket challenge. I’m a believer that once energy is put towards a purpose, the universe will find more ways to put more energy to that purpose and grow a vision. It was amazing to see the Ice Bucket challenge blow up as our show was taking shape. We wanted something that would bring glamour and class back to Hollywood, while in a unique way. ONE STARRY NIGHT is in the style of an old-time variety show (think Ed Sullivan) and features Tony award-winning Broadway performers, Emmy winning Television stars, Hollywood icons, comedians, production numbers, specialty acts and more all with a 15 piece orchestra comprised of Los Angeles’ finest musicians (these guys play the Oscars). It’s my hope and vision to grow it to eventually being annually televised on PBS to reach a much wider audience. 100% of the proceeds go to our partners at the ALS Association, Golden West Chapter. This year’s show is produced by Melissa Verdugo, Patty Ramsey, Patrick McMinn and myself, and we are confident it will be a very special evening.
What do you hope the audience takes away from One Starry Night?
It’s my hope that our audiences will be changed for having attended ONE STARRY NIGHT and that their hearts will be touched. I hope people will leave with more knowledge to share with their friends and family about the great need there is in the ALS community for more financial support for research and home care, and that people will generously give. I know everyone will enjoy a truly magical evening of entertainment, and I especially hope that our guests of honor, people currently living with this horrible disease will know we love them and are fighting alongside them. Hope and love if what it’s all about.
(One Starry Night is this Monday at The Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, California. Tickets are available HERE)