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Artist Spotlight: Janna Cardia and Julie Cardia

Julie Cardia and Janna Cardia in Replica. Photo by Os Galindo.

Where are you from originally?

JANNA: Northwest suburbs of Chicago in a town called Glen Ellyn. We went to junior high and high school there. Our nephew just graduated from our high school, which is fun!

How did you get involved in the performing arts?

JULIE: You know, I think one of the huge things that first started us getting involved in theatre was singing. We’ve sung ever since we were little girls... we did it naturally, just together at church and when our Mom and Dad would put us in our room and then we’d be like “Well, let’s sing!” and we would naturally harmonize. I always took the harmony and she took the melody.

JANNA: We just knew that we loved to sing and and then the storytelling part kind of came along.

Where did you go to school?

JULIE: We both went to Millikin Univeristy in Illinois. I was in the acting program and she was in the musical theatre program. The great thing about Millikin is that you kind of could do everything—you could do operas you could do musicals, you could do the dance concerts. Everyone was required to audition for every play and every musical. After college we moved to Chicago and spent six years there before moving to New York.

How did you meet Replica playwright Mickey Fisher?

JULIE: My boyfriend Mickey, who wrote Replica, and I started dating twenty years ago when I was living in Chicago and Mickey was living in New York City. We were all working at a summer stock theatre in Indiana—we were doing Little Shop of Horrors, I had no interest in Seymour but was totally interested in the guy playing the plant, who turned out to be Mickey! So, I started dating him.

JANNA: The cool thing about Mickey is that he has always been such a generator of his own work. Luckily we met him at an early age where he kind of said “You know, you could do this too.” We were still living in Chicago trying to earn money to move to New York, so we wrote our own cabarets and he directed them. Those cabarets brought us to New York and eventually got us agents.

How did Replica come about?

JULIE: I got accepted to Cal State Fullerton which is in Orange County about 35 miles from L.A.. Mickey and I both moved out to L.A. Prior to going to L.A. I’d seen a production of this play called Nine Parts of Desire and it was this one woman show by this woman who was Israeli and she played nine Israeli women. I saw the show Off-Broadway in New York and I was like I think I want to do something like that. Mickey proposed the idea of not doing a “twin thing” but instead something about cloning a human being, I was like “That sounds cool!” And so he wrote what became Replica my last year of grad school. I was doing my thesis about creating an original character using what I had learned. We did a production of it there. And I used a director that was a part of our program. One of my professors played the doctor and we brought Janna in on an Equity contract. They did a reading at the Rep of St. Louis, where director Seth Gordon got involved, followed by a reading at PlayPenn Theatre. Seth sent it to Stages’ Artistic Director Kenn McLaughlin, who quickly picked up on it and programmed it. This was last year when Stages said “Let’s do the play!” I had just been cast in tour of the Broadway revival of Les Miserables and I was in rehearsals and Seth asked” Can you do this?” I felt like I really have to do this, I can’t imagine some other girls doing this play that we’ve been doing you know off and on. Luckily it all worked out where I’ll go back to the tour when I’m done here and it all turned out great. I’m so grateful that it all worked out.

JANNA: It’s so exciting. That is a dream. It’s kind of amazing how all of these little puzzle pieces came together and this place. I mean when we were standing in that circle at the first rehearsal and Kenn was talking about how they (Stages staff) were to serve the playwright, Mickey starts crying then we start crying. We were like kids again. It’s just unbelievable...a dream come true.

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