I think we can all agree that Julie Andrews is one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity. Whether she’s twirling and singing about hills or being a literal queen on screen, she has touched every theatre person’s heart in unimaginable ways. But what about her more recent pursuits? Sure, we all sat in Aquaman to watch her voice an ancient sea monster, but she’s also been directing stage shows, writing books, and has created the most perfect piece of television that has ever existed. The latter, of course, is the show that inspired this entire blog: Julie’s Greenroom.
Julie’s Greenroom was released on Netflix on March 17, 2017. It has 13 episodes, each about half an hour long. Every episode centers around Miss Julie teaching a group of Jim Henson puppets called the “Greenies” about the performing arts. There are celebrity guest stars, original songs, and offstage drama in every episode. It is a truly wonderful and magical show, and today, I’m going to explain why you should watch it from start to finish. “To the stage!”
The Main Characters
Everybody on this show is a delight. Even the irritating characters are incredible. If you think I’m going to generalize why I love them all, think again, because I’ve watched the show all the way through twice and I’m currently on my third time.
Miss Julie: Julie Andrews is playing herself, essentially. She is a wonderful, nurturing soul who runs the Wellspring Center for the Performing Arts. She’s been teaching for years, and honestly cares about every single one of her students. She is warm and delightful, and I wish I could be a Greenie so I could learn from her and then come back to visit frequently.
Gus: Giullian Yao Gioiello is a delight as Miss Julie’s second-in-command. He stage manages, builds sets, and helps warm up the Greenies. He himself is a former Greenie, and he sings with the Greenies and the guest stars every single day. He is amazing and wonderful, and we need more Guses in the world.
Hank: Theatrical treasure John Tartaglia plays this Greenie. Hank is in a wheelchair, but this doesn’t stop him from loving baseball and playing piano. He can write songs, sing, and even proves himself to be a wonderful actor as Prince Harold. He and Spike become fast friends, and the two of them can be the skeptics of the group when called for (such as thinking ballet is only for girls and that dancing can be difficult for those with disabilities).
Fizz: Penelope Guadalupe Fitzgerald Sanchez is played by Dorien Davies and she is my favorite Greenie. She loves bandages and is always ready to tackle whatever opportunity she has to try something new. She’s also always willing to ask for help when she needs it, since she seems to be younger than the others and may or may not have a learning disability.
Peri: Remember Rachel Berry on Glee? Peri is her in puppet form, with Stephanie D’Abruzzo bringing her to life. Peri has been singing, dancing, acting, and obsessing over theatre since the dawn of time. She sings her feelings, and while she can be a bit of a diva, she does love the chance to help her fellow Greenies learn.
Riley: Riley is adorable. Jennifer Barnhart plays this nonbinary inventor, who loves working behind the scenes as much as they love acting, if not more. It's implied at one point that they might be on the autism spectrum, but they still are given the opportunity to learn with the group. Gus makes them Assistant Stage Manager, and they are overjoyed.
Spike: This fabulous wordsmith is played by Frankie Cordero. He loves words and writes down new ones he likes in his “Word Bank.” He also has a talent for rhymes, which comes in very handy on the show when he works with Hank on songs.
Hugo: Hugo is amazing. Played by Tyler Bunch, this adorable duck shows up in the very first episode. He has a flair for dramatics, especially classical ballet and opera.
Toby: Toby is Miss Julie’s dog. Played by John Kennedy, he is beloved by everyone in the Greenroom.
As you can tell, this is a beautifully diverse cast of characters (featuring different ethnicities and ability levels), and their love for the performing arts and each other is a wonderful thing to behold. But they are not alone in this show!
The Guest Stars
Julie’s Greenroom includes a small army of famous guest stars who help to teach the Greenies, all of whom are former Greenies themselves. Idina Menzel shows up in the first episode, and somehow it only gets better from there. Josh Groban, Chris Colfer, Sara Bareilles, David Hyde Pierce, and Tituss Burgess make up just some of the amazing guests who come in. Also amazing is Julie Andrews’ long-time friend Carol Burnett, who makes a special appearance. They offer guidance to Greenies, sing songs, and generally make learning about the arts a lot of fun.
The Featured Groups
Every episode also includes a look at a performing group somewhere in the world that celebrates whatever the topic is that day. Whether it’s backstage at Wicked, a dance troupe for dancers with disabilities, a huge choir, or storytellers, we see these groups at work. Real-world artists get highlighted and the Greenies (plus the audience) can be inspired by the work they do.
Every episode of the show features an original song. The guest stars sing, Gus sings, the Greenies sing, and even Miss Julie sings (bringing so much happiness that I’m honestly tearing up with sheer joy just thinking about it). The songs teach lessons, bring people together, and make everything about the show shine even brighter.
I’ve been involved in theatre pretty steadily for seven years now, so I thought I knew most of what there is to know. Watching this show proved me wrong. Even though these lessons are designed for kids, they are never condescending. They make the topics approachable and generate curiosity so kids will want to learn more. Do you know a kid who thinks they want to be involved with theatre, music, dance, or crew? This is the perfect way to show them what performing is all about.
Are you ever disappointed in how a TV show ends? Find yourself feeling empty when a series is over? Wishing for something that the show never provided? Not Julie’s Greenroom. Every disaster is handled with grace. Every action and word has meaning. Everything builds to the most beautiful conclusion that leaves you feeling full and happy. Julie Andrews created this show with her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton and expert of children’s media Judy Rothman, and you can tell so much love was poured into the series. Every warmup makes you smile, every scene is filled with life, and I can say with 100% certainty that if it doesn’t get more seasons, this will be the biggest crime against entertainment of all time. “The show must go on!”