A boy wonder-singer is growing up and expanding his artistic repertoire to include a more classical bend.
Julius Andrews IV, a seventh-grader at Coon Rapids Middle School, known in some circles for his smooth R & B, pop and Motown sounds – a Michael Jackson sound alike – has been cast in Minnesota Opera’s world premiere of “Doubt.”
“I felt excited and happy,” said the 12-year-old Julius on learning of being selected for the part of Donald.
The show opens Jan. 26 and runs for five performances through Feb. 3 at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts in St. Paul.
The opera, based on John Patrick Shanley’s play “Doubt: A Parable” that won a 2005 Pulitizer Prize for drama and a Tony Award for best play and was made into a popular Oscar-nominated film (five of them) in 2008, starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, is directed by Kevin Newbury. Douglas Cuomo is the composer.
In the Minnesota Opera debut of “Doubt,” Julius plays the role of Donald Miller, the only African-American student at a parochial school in the Bronx, circa 1964.
Teacher and nun Sister James, a young innocent, suspects the charismatic Father Flynn is abusing Donald. When James confides in Sister Aloysius, Aloysius embarks on a mission to seek the truth and to ruin Flynn. A battle of wills ensues.
In good company
Julius is in highly esteemed company in his first foray into opera. Grammy-award winning soprano Christine Brewer inhabits the character of Sister Aloysius Beauvier, the school principal; Denyce Graves, lauded by USA Today, calling her “one of the singers most likely to be an operatic superstar of the 21st century” is Donald’s mother, Mrs. Miller; rising American baritone Matthew Worth is Father Flynn; and mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala is the uncorrupted Sister James.
For his audition, Julius sang Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time.”
“Julius is a magnificent young singer and actor,” Newbury said in an email to ABC Newspapers. “He is a natural talent and has the same serious work ethic as all of the adult cast members.”
Julius started singing at the age of six. Among many venues, he has performed at the Guthrie Theater and the Paramount Theatre in St. Cloud. He has performed widely in Anoka County. He has sung the national anthem for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Lynx, Starz and Gopher games and for the USA Cup in Blaine. He has appeared on “Twin Cities Live.” In 2009, he won first place in the Minnesota State Fair’s amateur talent contest in the Pre-teen Talent Division.
For Julius, the best part of singing is the “way it feels and the way it touches people’s hearts.”
Initially on stage, he admits to experiencing a few twinges of nervousness, but he gets in his own world and quickly gets comfortable, he said.
“He holds the stage whether he is singing or acting, in moments of both frenetic movement and complete stillness,” Newbury said.
Said Julius: “I feel blessed and I love what I do. It feels right.”
Julius is the son of Julius Andrews III and Stasha Andrews of Coon Rapids.
Minnesota Opera presents the world premiere of “Doubt” Jan. 26, 29, 31 at 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 2, 8 p.m.; and Feb. 3, 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 – $200. The Ordway is located at 345 Washington St., St. Paul. For more information, visit www.mnopera.org or call the Minnesota Opera ticket office at 612-333-6669.
Elyse Kaner is at [email protected]