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The Shirley Series, Part 3: Up Next For Julia Belanoff

The Shirley Series
By Mena Buscetto

Welcome to the last installment of The Shirley Series! But first, a quick recap:

Harvard senior Julia Belanoff brought originality, passion and talent to the table when she decided to write an original musical based off of the life of film legend and the star of most of our childhoods, Shirley Temple Black, for her senior thesis project. The piece was appropriately titled Shirley. Belanoff, who wrote and starred in the piece that was presented at Agassiz Theater on the Harvard campus, created an emotionally stirring and enlightening piece about the pressures, challenges and triumphs the star faced after her immediate and bountiful success as a child star.

At the end of our interview, which can be read in The Shirley Series, Part 2, Belanoff and I discussed the plans she had for her own future post-graduation as well as the future of the piece she has worked diligently on for the past several months.

Belanoff’s theatrical experience originated and developed in her home state of California. After graduating from Harvard, she plans to return to the San Francisco Bay area, where she acted professionally at the age of thirteen until she moved to Cambridge nearly four years ago. She plans to be bi-coastal and continue working as an actress, pursuing opportunities in both New York City and California. She would also be open to creating more pieces like Shirley because she had such a positive experience this time around. Ultimately, however, she sees a career as an artistic director of a regional theater company in her future.

As for Shirley, Belanoff hopes that audience members walked away thinking about women who have inspired them in their own lives. Since the show had a heavy emphasis on the influence of powerful women in the life of Shirley Temple Black, this is definitely a realistic expectation and something I found myself doing walking out of the theater. Though it was a lengthy, laborious process, Belanoff undoubtedly has a sense of pride regarding her completed project and feels rewarded for her hard work. According to Belanoff, “talking with audience members who shared their personal stories with me after seeing the performance was very rewarding. I have loved connecting with people and hearing about what they took away from the show.” This is truly what good theatre is all about, isn’t it? Connections and making an impact on others and the world outside the theater.

We wish Julia the best of luck in her endeavors and thank her for sharing Shirley with us!

The Shirley Series, Part 1: The Musical
The Shirley Series, Part 2: Interview with Creator Julia Belanoff

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