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Sound Circuit

From Madam Jules to Justice


Julia “Madam Jules” Mahlstadt has been performing on Des Moines stages for years. Whether as the voice of a band or as a solo singer-songwriter, Mahlstadt’s vocals have been heard on virtually every music venue’s stage in town at one point or another. But now she’s undertaking something that is out of her wheelhouse: taking to the stage as Justice Charlier in the Playhouse’s run of “Rock of Ages.”

Julia Mahlstadt and the rest of the cast of “Rock of Ages” perform at the Des Moines Playhouse through Aug 7.

Julia Mahlstadt and the rest of the cast of “Rock of Ages” perform at the Des Moines Playhouse through Aug 7.

“The last time I did a musical, I was 10 in ‘Oliver,’ ” Mahlstadt said.

So what got her back on the stage now?

“Because it’s ‘Rock of Ages,’ ” she exclaimed. “I saw a Facebook post for auditions, and I was like, ‘Why not?’ I decided to give it a try, just to stretch myself as an artist.”

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Singing is singing. Not everyone can do every genre, but either you have the pipes or you don’t. Mahlstadt has the pipes. But when it came to the preparation for a multiple-performance stage production, there was a learning curve.

“The whole ‘downstage/upstage’ stuff, it came back to me, but it took a little while,” she admitted. “But a lot of the cast are Drake students and musical theater majors. This is their life. Rehearsal starts at 6:30 p.m., and the first week I’m waltzing in at 6:29 p.m. I’m thinking that’s acceptable, and it’s totally not. Just that level of professionalism that they’re all at.

“We’ve practiced our butts off. I’ve learned that I’m a singer first, I’m a dancer second, and I’m an actor third. That’s the order.”

However, true to her original intent, Mahlstadt said the lessons she has learned from the experience have stretched her as a performer, and she is already looking to apply them to her own music. She has an album coming out in August and is already looking toward the next step and how to make it as engaging as possible.

“It’s just taking the hard work ethic and applying it to what I want to do with my own performances,” she explained. “I’ve already started second album stuff. It’s a little grittier. I’m ready to get away from my guitar and use my body on stage. I need to move. When Madam Jules has her album release, it’s going to be fun to watch. I promise that.” CV




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