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January 16, 2014

Playing the parts of sisters in Jeffersonville High School's theater productions

Two Jeff High cousins take leading roles in this weekend’s plays

JEFFERSONVILLE — Just a few months after seeing each other for the first time in about 10 years, they both found out they were taking center stage together.

Juli Biagi, a sophomore at Jeffersonville High School and her cousin, Reilly Northam, a junior, have the lead roles in the school’s production of “Our Town” and “Pride and Prejudice.”

Separated by 2,000 miles until this summer, the pair connected not just when Biagi moved to Jeffersonville, but when they discovered they shared a passion for theater.

“I think that was the biggest thing, knowing she was here,” Biagi said. “Being the new kid, it was nice to know that I’d have a connection. She’s one of the main reason I was able to make friends, that was really cool to get close to her again.”Biagi, originally from California, said she grew up singing with her father and acting from fifth grade on, studying at the South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, Calif. When she found out she was moving to Southern Indiana, she said she had no idea that the region has something of a pedigree for high school drama.

“It was really cool because you usually do think of California with Hollywood and lots of actors and stuff,” Biagi said. “But there are a lot of talented people here and that’s really cool to see that in a little Midwest town. It’s nice to know that everyone here is as pumped about theater as I am.”

Northam said once she learned her cousin was moving nearby, they got to know each other over the Internet. She said at first, she was a little intimidated knowing she was up against a cousin who studied theater in California, but a lunch meeting with the two helped them both see how down-to-earth they were.“I would see her in certain pictures and just think ‘she’s probably so talented,’ I was nervous to meet her,” Northam said. “But she’s so modest, she’s so sweet. It did intimidate me at first, but then I met her and she’s amazing.”

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Judy Lunsford works on a lesson plan for her students with fellow teachers, Ellen Rothstein and Adam Stephens, in her classroom at Northaven Elementary in Jeffersonville Wednesday afternoon. Lunsford, a new addition to Northaven, will be teaching second grade.

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