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Campus News / News

RU’s Julia Schade Inducted into RPS 205 Hall of Fame, Continues to Thrive on Broadway in “Six”

05/05/2023 11:05 am

By Sara Myers, Digital Media & Communications Specialist 

Rockford University alum and local Julia Schade spends the majority of her time in the Big Apple aka New York City these days, rather than in her hometown of Rockford. Schade, currently the musical director of Six, has recently been inducted in the Rockford Public Schools 205 Fine Arts Hall of Fame.

The district-wide event highlights individuals and groups each year as a way to celebrate the past and current successes of the fine arts in the district. Although Schade said she’s rarely in Rockford, she made a special trip home for the April 21 induction ceremony. 

“I miss working at Rockford University, I miss working with Timm Adams and playing for the shows and working with students,” Schade said. “I really love working in education and Rockford University was a great fit for me.”

The event was held at The Standard, 214 East State St., in Rockford. Schade is an Auburn High School Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) alumna and graduated in 2006 from Rockford University’s Performing Arts program with a B.A. in Music.

Schade said that getting to see students come in as freshmen and then playing with them during their senior seminars has been rewarding. 

“I feel really excited and proud,” Schade said about the recognition. “I’m proud to have come from Rockford and to have grown up in Rockford public schools.”

Schade said she remembers having talented music teachers growing up who could tell she really had a passion for music. Her teachers were very encouraging when she started to take piano lessons, she said. 

Later, after Schade graduated from Rockford University, she did a patriotic themed recital and invited her elementary school music teacher Mrs. Simon to come and play the piccolo part on the song, “Stars and Stripes Forever,” and she did, Schade said. 

Schade said she also remembers being involved in the music and art scene for years as an accompanist in both RPS choirs and musicals, and the musicals at RU. 

“I liked giving back and being in an educational environment,” she said. ”I feel happy that I was always able to support myself as a musician in Rockford. There was always work for me to do there.”

She added that she wouldn’t be where she is today without her opportunities in Rockford, which was the catalyst to her moving to Chicago and meeting the team for Six the musical.

Chapter “Six” 

Julia Schade in Six on Braodway

Though the musical Six was supposed to open in March 2020. The world had another plan and Broadway was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Schade came back to Rockford and worked in Rockford University’s Performing Arts department where she taught classes with friend and mentor Timm Adams, and worked as a co-music director on the production of “Legally Blonde.”

Finally in August of 2021, she returned to NYC and began work on Six again.

“The show felt different, same lyrics, same tech,” she said. There were many who had lost people in that time and gone through financial troubles. It was just so much trauma so the show felt different.”

The show centers around the six wives of Henry VIII and is presented like a pop music concert. 

Despite the pandemic causing delays, the musical went on to achieve immense success, she said. Schade performed on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning America, and also the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live with the cast. 

The musical was also nominated for multiple Tony Awards and Schade and the cast performed a musical number live at the Tony Awards on June 12, 2022, also her birthday, which she said was also a very big day for her. 

“My 44th birthday (I was) performing at the Tony Awards,” she said. “I have to tell you the stage manager still managed to do a little birthday thing for me at the theater with treats, it was so cute.”

“Six” won two Tony awards that night for Best Costume Design and Best New Musical Score, she said. 

Schade continues to perform on Broadway, as part of the backing band in Six, at least 5 to 6 times a week, and as musical director. Tickets are still available for the musical from now until September 2023, here.

Our last catch up with Schade in 2021 can be read here