Spotlight shines on Mount Mercy freshman

Mount Mercy student Julia Simons in Theatre Cedar Rapids production of Les Miserables

One Mount Mercy University student is sharing her musical talents with the Cedar Rapids community. Freshman Julia Simons has been cast as Cosette, a lead character in Theatre Cedar Rapids’ production of the world-famous Les Misérables.

Simons, a native of Gilbert, Ariz., chose Mount Mercy to study music education and started classes in Fall 2013. Her performance in Les Misérables marks the second Cedar Rapids community stage appearance since arriving at Mount Mercy in the fall. Earlier this year, she appeared on the Paramount stage as part of the chorus in Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre’s production of Carmen.

“I’ve been singing since I could talk,” Julia said, but she had no formal lessons during childhood. Her love of music has built the foundation for her higher-education path.

“Julia is part of a very talented freshman class in the music department at Mount Mercy, and her gifts will continue to make her a major contributor during a time of exciting growth,” said Tony Nickle, piano faculty at Mount Mercy and production manager for the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre. “I was proud to have her and a couple of her classmates involved in Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre’s production of Carmen in January, and I’m so excited for her to have this opportunity with Theatre Cedar Rapids this summer.”

Before arriving at Mount Mercy, Julia had never thought about acting. She liked the technical side of productions and working behind the scenes. However, after some encouragement, she began to embrace the idea, and her role as Cosette will mark her acting debut.  

“I wasn’t expecting to get into the show, let alone get Cosette,” Simons said. She was among 300 actors who auditioned.

“Not many undergraduate students, especially freshmen, can say they have sung in a professional opera production and have been cast in a principal role in a major community theater production.” Nickle stated. “I look forward to seeing her develop her promising talent over the next few years.”

We do, too.

The TCR production of Les Misérables runs June 20 – July 23, 2014 and tickets can be purchased at

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