Irvine High Alum, Julie Boardman is Smashing Theater’s Glass Ceiling

Photograph by Matthew Murphy

The Irvine High alum co-produced the musical—adapted from the 1951 film by the same name—which won four Tony Awards. This month she’s bringing the show to the same Segerstrom Hall stage where she performed as a girl with the Pacific Chorale children’s chorus.

Arriving in New York City with a music industry degree from USC, Boardman tap-danced her way onto the national tour of “42nd Street” and saw firsthand the many moving parts of a musical. Fascinated by what was happening behind the scenes, she started studying producing. After completing several workshops, she joined the production team of two national tours: “Peter and the Starcatcher” and “Dreamgirls.”

“One of the things I love about producing is no day is like the next. I attend readings of new shows, meet with writers and directors, find source material, stay current on industry trends, meet with potential investors, and network within the industry—
and I see a ton of theater.”

From the moment Stuart Oken mentioned he was producing a  new Gershwin musical, Boardman knew she had to be part of it. “I’m so grateful I made my Broadway producing debut with ‘An American in Paris.’ It’s one of the most artistic, exquisite musicals I’ve ever seen. I love this quote from the show: ‘Life is already so dark; if you’ve got the talent to make it brighter, give people joy or hope, why would you withhold that?’ ”

Another quote, a framed gift from her dad, hangs near the door of her apartment so she can see it every day. It says, “Never settle for someone else’s definition of who you can be.”

“It’s true that this business is predominantly run by men over 50—it’s hard enough to break into the community, let alone be young and female—but that also drives me to succeed. I realize how important it is to be ‘in the room where it happens.’
I now have that access and have proved I am worthy to be there.”

Boardman won’t be onstage at Segerstrom Hall, but attentive theatergoers might get a glimpse of the high school musical star turned Broadway producer if they know where to look.

“I love to stand in the back of the theater just to see the reaction of the audience. I listen to what they say, about how they can leave their troubles at the door and be taken away with this wonderful experience. Being able to know I’m a part of that, helping create that experience and escape—that’s magical.”

SEE IT: An American in Paris comes to Segerstrom Hall from April 25 to May 7. Go to for information.


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