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story.lead_photo.caption Sean Clancy, Paper Trails columnist


Julia Nightingale was 7 years old when she saw her first play, Sing, Dance, Repeat, during a summer program at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

"It was a musical and it was all young people and it looked like they were having the most fun of anyone in the whole world," she says.

She'd found her calling.

"I went home and told my mom that I wanted to be in a play."

She is 19 now and appearing on Broadway as Shena Carney in The Ferryman, the critically acclaimed drama that won four Tony Awards last week, including Best Play and Best Director.

Written by Jez Butterworth and directed by Sam Mendes, The Ferryman is set in early '80s Northern Ireland during The Troubles.

Nightingale, whose family moved to Little Rock from Ventura, Calif., when she was 7, was cast in February after four rounds of auditions.

"I have to carry a baby in the show and they asked me if I had experience with babies," she said between performances last week. "At the time, I was a nanny to an 18-month-old, so it was really serendipitous."

She was a Little Rock second-grader when she landed her first roles playing Young Cosette and Young Eponine in a Rep production of Les Miserables, despite the fact that the outfit she wore to her audition was not exactly keeping with the bleak themes of the musical set in the French Revolution.

"I wore a sequined shirt my sister wore in an Irish dance competition, a red tutu and heelies, which are kind of like roller skate sneakers," she says with a laugh. "If you know anything about Les Mis, it wasn't really appropriate."

In 2013, she played Opal in the Rep's production of Because of Winn Dixie, which caught the attention of the person who became her agent.

She attended Little Rock Central High School, but took a high school equivalency test and left for New York with her parents when she was 16 to pursue acting.

The Ferryman's Broadway run ends July 7 and Nightingale is looking for film and TV roles next.

"I would not even be close to any of this if it wasn't for Arkansas and the Rep," she says. "I was lucky to grow up in that community and get all that experience at such a young age."


Contestants with Arkansas connections are appearing on very different TV programs this week.

E.J. Wolborsky, a 33-year-old Little Rock Catholic High alumnus who now lives in New York, is hoping to continue his winning streak Monday on Jeopardy! and 37-year-old Josh Harris of Little Rock can be seen at 7 p.m. Monday as he attempts to advance past the Oklahoma City qualifying stage of NBC's daunting obstacle course competition American Ninja Warrior.

More details are available at


SundayMonday on 06/16/2019

Print Headline: PAPER TRAILS: Rep alum has role in Tony win


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