Langley talks New Horizon, ‘Once Upon a December’

Published 7:01 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2018

WEST POINT — Although she grew up 45 minutes north of the Greater Valley Area in Wadley, internationally-renowned actress Julia Langley holds West Point near and dear to her heart.

Having performed around the world with Cirque Dreams and in performances on and off Broadway, Langley’s most recent project is directing New Horizon Theatre’s upcoming show “Once Upon a December.”

To discuss the one-night-only performance happening Thursday, Langley took a break from the stage to make an appearance at the Wednesday meeting of the West Point Lions Club. While there, she began by speaking to members on the importance of the arts in a world that doesn’t always appreciate it.

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“I always love talking about the arts because it’s something that often gets second billing,” she said. “When we have a recession, what’s the first thing to go? The arts. When a school needs to spend more time on social studies and math, what’s the first thing to go? The arts.”

She said that, especially in a smaller area like the Valley and West Point, New Horizon is a good representation of how the arts are valued.

Langley first started working with New Horizon in 2009 when her friend from college asked her to help with a new summer camp they were putting on to help the community theatre grow.

After the summer camp was a success, Langley also helped coordinate and direct the first “Once Upon a December.”

In the following year, Langley said that auditions to be in New Horizon shows had doubled and that people were excited for another year of the Christmas show. She continued helping out every summer and winter until, in 2017, she realized she might have to miss a year.

“People said to me ‘What do you mean you can’t do the Christmas Show this year, this is a tradition,” Langley said. “That was it, someone threw out the word tradition last year for the first time. When I heard that word, I think I walked away with a tear in my eye and I realized … that as a director, you are impacting people.”

She said that with all of her years as a thespian, she realized how important the arts were in places that don’t normally celebrate them.

“I realized that they had incorporated it, this was part of their Christmas spirit,” she said. “[A show like this] allows them to express themselves, try new things, be bold and step out into the world to follow their dreams. That’s what the arts are all about.”

Since the first showcase with only six performers, “Once Upon a December” has grown into a 60-performer-and-a-live-band spectacle. Langley said that she gets excited to do it every year and hopes to bring it back home to her local theatres.

“What this has turned into is not just a chance for people to perform, but for people to perform as families,” she said. “It’s even bigger because it is giving families chances to be together.”

“Once Upon a December” will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET Thursday night at New Horizon Theatre. Tickets are $15 and can be reserved by emailing or by calling (706)-518-6234.