Carmel native returns to the stage, takes on different kind of “Tussle”


Harkey stars as Amber in "Cooties"

Carmel native Julia Harkey is behind a “Tussle” at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre. A “Von Tussle” to be exact.

The 2005 Carmel High School graduate is enjoying her first supporting role at the theatre that of Amber Von Tussle in the Broadway show Hairspray.

The teenage nemesis to lead character Tracy Turnblad, Amber Von Tussle is also Tracy’s fiercest competition for both heartthrob Link Larkin and the 1962 Miss Teenage Hairspray crown.

“Playing Amber is a real trip,” Harkey said, “and I am having the time of my life playing the villain. Bring on the boos and hisses!”

She has performed at Beef & Boards twice before as part of the ensemble in Peter Pan and The Wizard of Oz. This is her first major role.

For Julia, it’s also a chance to come home to the stage. After graduating from Florida State University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Music Theatre and a minor in art history, Julia moved to Astoria, Queens, in New York City to pursue a career that she’s planned since she was about 12.

“My dad took me to see Les Misérables when I was in the sixth grade, and I wanted to do musical theatre ever since,” Julia said. “I started dancing in elementary school, Ambassadors (show choir) in high school, and from there it stemmed from a hobby to what I wanted to turn into my career.”

“New York is one adventure after the other, but it is great to be able to come home and spend time with friends and family I don’t often see!”

The eight-time Tony Award-winning Hairspray continues through March at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre. For reservations, call the Beef & Boards Box Office at (317) 872-9664. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays.

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