Actor Spotlight

Dallas actress Janelle Lutz exposes her farm-girl past and intense love for TV

Dallas actress Janelle Lutz exposes farm-girl past and intense TV love

Dallas actor Janelle Lutz
Actress Janelle Lutz was recently honored with a DFW Theater Critics Forum award. Photo courtesy of Janelle Lutz
Our of Order at Theatre Britain
Bryan Brooks and Janelle Lutz in Out of Order at Theatre Britain, opening September 12. Photo by Mark Trew
Our of Order at Theatre Britain
Bryan Brooks and Janelle Lutz in Out of Order at Theatre Britain. Photo by Mark Trew
The Boy From Oz
Alex Ross, Janelle Lutz and Sarah Elizabeth Smith in The Boy From Oz at Uptown Players. Photo by Mike Morgan
The Boy From Oz
Janelle Lutz and Alex Ross in The Boy From Oz at Uptown Players. Photo by Mike Morgan
Soho Cinders at Uptown Players
Sean Burroughs and Janelle Lutz in Soho Cinders at Uptown Players. Photo by Mike Morgan
Dallas actor Janelle Lutz
Our of Order at Theatre Britain
Our of Order at Theatre Britain
The Boy From Oz
The Boy From Oz
Soho Cinders at Uptown Players

She just won a DFW Theater Critics Forum Award for her stunning portrayal of Judy Garland in Uptown Players’ The Boy From Oz, but Janelle Lutz has been turning in exceptional performances since she hit the Dallas theater scene. With a resume built around playing strong, confident women, Lutz tries her hand at farce with the British comedy Out of Order, opening at Theatre Britain on September 12.

Prior to the show’s opening, Lutz took the time to fill out our survey of serious, fun and sometimes ridiculous questions.

Name: Janelle Lutz

Role in Out of OrderJane Worthington

Previous work in the DFW area: Lyric Stage (Elsa Schreader, The Sound of Music; Claudia Nardi, Nine); Uptown Players (Marilyn Platt, Soho Cinders; Judy Garland, The Boy From Oz); MainStage Irving-Las Colinas (Little Becky Two-Shoes/ Mrs. Millenium, Urinetown) Stolen Shakespeare Guild (Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility

Hometown: Hollister, California

Where you currently reside: Dallas

First theater role: The first show I was ever in was at my church back home, and it was a musical adaptation of the story of the Good Samaritan. I played the doctor. My first community theater show was Fiddler on the Roof; I played Beilke, the youngest of the daughters. I was 16 playing a 12-year-old. So much fun. 

First stage show you ever saw: The first one that comes to mind is The Lion King. I saw it in San Francisco with friends, and it was so amazing. I would go and see that show again in an instant. Just magnificent. 

Moment you decided to pursue a career in theater: Well, I think it has been growing on me the last couple of years. Probably about a year or two ago I really started to think about it seriously.

Most challenging role you’ve played: Judy Garland in The Boy from Oz

Special skills: I don’t think this really counts as a “special skill,” but I’m really good at sleeping. I’m also pretty good at binge watching TV. I know it’s a terrible habit, but when I have time to sit and watch TV, by golly I do.

Something you’re REALLY bad at: Sports. I would love to be good at them and be able to play them without hurting someone or falling on my face, but it doesn’t always work so well. 

Current pop culture obsession: Honestly, I just started watching TLC’s What Not to Wear again. Does that count?

Last book you read: Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland by Gerald Clark

Favorite movie(s): I really like old movies. So I would have to say Roman Holiday, Operation Petticoat, The Thin Man Series, His Girl Friday and anything classic of the 1930s-1940s. I do also like more modern movies. One of my favorites is The Family Stone. Makes me cry every time. 

Favorite musician(s): Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Audra McDonald, Ramin Karimloo

Favorite song: “The Man That Got Away” from A Star is Born and “Pretty Women” from Sweeney Todd. Both of those songs are just so hauntingly beautiful.

Dream role: Christine in Phantom of the Opera. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s true. Of course, I have many dream roles, but I think I have wanted this one the longest. 

Favorite play(s): Wait Until Dark by Frederick Knott

Favorite musical(s): Oy, that is too tough. All of them! I just love musicals. 

Favorite actors/actresses: Colin Firth, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart

Favorite food: My Mom’s chicken casserole, chips and dip, and anything chocolate. 

Must-see TV show(s): Friends, The West Wing

Something most people don’t know about you: Well, I grew up on a farm. From the age of 7 all the way through high school, I was in 4-H. My two main projects were sewing and sheep showing. Each year at the county fair, I would make an outfit out of wool, and a matching one for my sheep, and I would compete in a thing called “Lamb Lead.” We were judged on our outfit and how our lamb matched us. This is a true story. I have pictures to prove it. 

Place in the world you’d most like to visit: Italy

Pre-show warm-up: Generally, it’s just getting to the theater nice and early, and drinking some throat coat tea or Dr Pepper. Oh, and I do hum to get my voice rolling.  

Favorite part about your current role: Getting to run around and have fun, while being awkward and goofy. This is such a wonderful cast, and we crack each other up all the time. 

Most challenging part about your current role: Honestly, it’s getting the comedic timing correct. This is my first British farce, so this show is most certainly stretching me as an actress. It’s a wonderful challenge.  

Most embarrassing onstage mishap: I think it probably would have been the opening night of Beauty and the Beast back in my hometown, Hollister. I was playing the part of Belle, and at this theater you had to go outside to get from one side of the stage to the other. Well, at the end of one scene, I was so nervous about making it to the other side of the stage for my next entrance that I left the stage early and ran to the other side. When I got to the other side the guy playing Maurice said, “Don’t worry about it. The orchestra just kept going. It’s okay.”

Well, come to find out, I completely skipped a whole scene and song! And of course it was the scene where Belle finds out her father is missing. Glad it’s a well-known story and people could just figure it out. Yep, great opening night.  

Career you’d have if you weren’t a performer: I would be a teacher. 

Favorite post-show spot: Anywhere there is a good drink and mac and cheese or tacos.

Favorite thing about Dallas-Forth Worth: Oh gracious, it’s the people. The people I have met here are beyond wonderful. They have accepted me, taken me under their wings and become my family here. I love them! My theater family is amazing to me. Truly. 

Most memorable theater moment: I have to say it would be the closing performance of The Boy from Oz. Those who were involved in that show will understand why I chose this moment because that final performance we were all a mess. We all wanted to soak in every possible moment before they all slipped away.

One moment of that afternoon in particular was during “Quiet Please, There’s a Lady On Stage.” This is the song that Peter Allen wrote as a tribute to Judy Garland, and in the show Judy makes a little cameo appearance. It was always a special scene for me, but that afternoon it was ever so much more.

At that moment, I realized that I wasn’t just portraying Judy saying goodbye to Peter and to her audience, but it was me personally saying goodbye. Saying goodbye to the cast, crew and to Judy herself. It was me saying thank you. 

I am eternally grateful and honored to have been involved with such a treasure of a show. There are not enough words to say how much The Boy from Oz meant to me, so that has to be my most memorable theater moment.