theater reviews

ONCE

"Julie Benko is a powerhouse as Girl. A fine singer and pianist, she combines dramatic nuance with a knack for comedy. Girl tends to plant her feet, beam a direct gaze from her dark eyes to size things up and then tunnel right to the emotional heart of a situation. She has the kind of tenacity that's fun to root for, and, in Benko's hands, it should come with a warning label: Do Not Underestimate."

-Seven Days Vermont

"Still, in this true ensemble piece, it was Julie Benko’s Girl that proved the center of Friday’s performance. Her simple directness, with emotions simmering underneath, made her irresistible and riveting. She sang hauntingly, and even delivered a credible version of one of Mendelssohn’s 'Songs without Words' on piano."

-Rutland Herald

"Honest, awkward, sweet, surprising, funny, genuine, evolving... an astounding achievement. [Her] acting cannot be separated from [her] melodious voice or from her inspired keyboard skills.... They are spectacular.

-Revue WM

"Benko is a delight as Girl, with plenty of sass to control the conversation and yet the tenderness to win devotion.

-Encore Michigan

"In this edition they are played by Julie Benko (Girl) and Brad Standley (Guy), both of whom are so good that it is hard to imagine anyone else playing them. Benko is gruff and strong and fascinated by the man she has met... These two actors play the romance with such richness that it feels as though more time, much more time, has gone by."

-Berkshire Bright Focus

Simply known only as Guy and Girl, the couple is beautifully played by Brad Standley and Julie Benko. They have a natural indefinable chemistry, and the audience enjoys discovering their insecurities and characteristic quirks.

-Chester Telegraph

The fantasticks

"Julie Benko, as Luisa, has a face that can render every blushing excess of adolescence, from saucer-eyed hope to defiant daring. Resisting squeaky youthfulness, she turns an abstract ingénue into a person both decisive and awkward. And her strong singing is a window into a Luisa with a real soul."

-Seven Days Vermont

"Francisco Gonzalez and Julie Benko play young lovers Matt and Luisa with a loopy in love freshness that, once it sours, is replaced by a sad cynicism. As handled here, this emotional turnabout allows us to watch them mature, to see their sparkle be tempered by rawness of experience. It should also be noted that their vocal work is stellar."

-Chester Telegraph

our town

"Julie Benko's performance... was as delightful as it was heart-wrenching."

-Manchester Journal

"Emily Gibbs [was] played beautifully with tremendous range and emotion by Julie Benko."

-Vermont Journal

"Julie Benko was responsible for much of the production’s joy and heartbreak, irresistibly portraying three stages of the girl’s life. The final flashback was particularly heart wrenching."

-Rutland Herald

"Julie Benko sets Emily fluttering between shyness and exhilaration. Her gaze devours everything around her, and we see Emily aching to uncover the world. In Friday's performance, as Emily grasps an elemental truth in the final act, Benko wept as she experienced it."

-Seven Days VT

RAGS

"...a radiant turn by Julie Benko... Benko’s [ebullient] as Bella."

-The Mercury News

"Julie Benko as Bella makes us cheer for her."

-SF Theater Blog

"...singing the rousing title song, "Rags"—a number Julie Benko as Bella particularly shines as she exclaims her immigrant impatience in a voice refreshing with its exuberance and energy."

-Talkin' Broadway

"Julie Benko combines both warmth and subtle signs of incipient rebellion in Bella, and also powerfully delivers the show's bitter title song."

-The Bay Area Reporter

"Benko deftly navigates one of the most complex characters in the play."

-Bay Area Theatre and Bites

"Julie Benko offered an extremely sympathetic portrayal of the stifled Bella..."

-Huffpost

"High praise also goes to... Julie Benko, whose beautifully tragic Bella sees the tarnish in the promised streets of gold."

-The Examiner

"One of many standouts is Benko as Bella, who passionately delivers the show's rousing title song."

-The Almanac

bar mitzvah boy

"...strategically and beautifully set in motion by a scene between Eliot and his sister Lesley (a terrific Julie Benko)."

-Curtain Up

"Benko is the perfect combination of irksome and protective as the big sister."

-Talkin' Broadway

"Benko is both bossy around her boyfriend and endearing with her useful wisdom..."

-Theater Scene

   Fiddler on the Roof  

The biggest... surprise was from Julie Benko, who had stepped in as Hodel, Tevye’s second daughter. Her melancholy and heartbreaking rendition of “Far from the Home I Love,” my favorite song in the show, was an unexpected treat.

-Pop-Culturalist.com

   The Golem of Havana   

"Julie Benko... does a delightful job of depicting the young woman’s courage and conviction. She maintains her energy level throughout and embraces her songs with an appropriate enthusiasm...."

-Springfield Art Examiner

""The girl, Rebeca Frankel, is played by Julie Benko with a sincerity that is ultimately moving... Benko acts and sings with strength and a realism that makes her loveable... for her ardor is only exceeded by her imagination."

- Berkshire Bright Focus

"For her part, Rebeca (a thoroughly engaging Julie Benko) is richly imaginative and inquisitive."

-The Berkshire Eagle

   Les Misérables   

"Julie Benko...[stars] as Cosette...and [performs] beautifully. Benko portrays an exquisite Cosette in her purest form."

-Sacramento 365

"...[her] moments on stage are both impassioned and strong. Julie Benko's Cosette is sweeter and lighter than Harmon's Éponine... Benko's adept soprano shows range... The theater world is certain to see more from this singer."

- Triangle Arts & Entertainment

"Julie Benko's Cosette had us shivering with delight in 'A Heart Full of Love."

-Indyweek.com

"As the lovers, Max Quinlan as Marius and Julie Benko as Cosette are endearing and believable. The whole love at first sight thing can be a yawn in lesser hands. These two win you over and have you pulling for them."

-The Mike Stand

"Believable and touching. [She sings] 'A Heart Full of Love' delectably."

-Boom Magazine

"Other highlights included Julie Benko's performance as Cosette, offering a shining soprano voice."

-Live Toast