Fine Arts Student of the Week: Student succeeds with work behind the scenes

"Julian constantly has a positive attitude at rehearsals, and is more than willing to help out," the BHS theater director stated.

Julian Keller-Heikkila
Brainerd High School sophomore Julian Keller-Heikkila poses in-between sets of the play "Almost, Main," in The Little Theater. Keller-Heikkila was named this week's Fine Arts Student of the Week. Jennifer Kraus / Brainerd Dispatch

Julian Keller-Heikkila

Grade: Sophomore.

Age: 15.

Art focus: Brainerd High School Theater.

Adviser nomination: “This is Julian's first experience being involved in a play, and Julian is a phenomenal tech crew member. Julian is continually bringing on and off heavy furniture pieces quickly in-between each scene. Julian also greatly helped the theater program by allowing us to borrow a dryer as a set piece for the show ‘Almost, Maine.’ Julian constantly has a positive attitude at rehearsals, and is more than willing to help out. The trickiest scene involves a shoe dropping from the ceiling, and Julian was a key person in figuring out how to do this. Thank you so much for all of your hard work, Julian!”


Memorable fine arts achievement: “Just getting in this (theater) position in general is pretty great.”

Other fine arts activities: TV Productions.

Artist most admired: TV Production teacher Andrew Dwyer.

Why did you join theater: “For awhile Miss J (Karla Johnson, the theater director) was telling me I would be great for it. During my freshman year, she was encouraging me to do it and I finally decided to join. It was a great experience. She was my English teacher.”

Did you want to be a part of the tech crew? “I didn’t have any intentions on what I wanted to do in theater, but I landed on the tech crew. I am pretty grateful for this position. Being on the tech crew, I don’t have to deal with a lot of pressure memorizing lines.

“As a crew member, I move props on and off the stage. I get to help with figuring out the props and where they should be placed on the stage. There is a lot of prop management. It’s not super difficult, but it can be challenging at times. I don’t know what to do all of the time, but we get it figured out in the end.”

Toughest challenge: “(Storage space.) We have more than one crew member moving props and we have a bench that takes up a lot of space behind stage. We need more room, but we get it sorted out in the end.

“We had to figure out how to get a shoe to drop from the ceiling so I strung it over a pole on the ceiling and connected the shoe with a safety pin. I used fishing line and tied it to a paint can and fastened it with a pencil. When I pull the pencil out, it slowly releases the fishing line and drops the shoe. I just have to listen to the verbal cues.”


Do you have experience in building things? “No not really. I did build a treehouse a couple of months ago and it took me a month to build. It is about 20 feet up and I built it on my own on an oak tree. I wanted some space away from my family and we had some spare wood. I did the work in chunks, and then had to haul it up the tree.”

Best part of theater: “There are a lot of great people in theater and it’s great to be a part of it. I plan to stick to it all year.”

Dream job: “I have a lot of skills in programming, so I would like to be a scientist or computer programmer.”

Favorite subject: TV Productions.

Favorite movie: “I watch a lot of science fiction movies.”

Favorite TV show: “Friends” and “Seinfeld.”

Last audiobook listened to: “Off to Be the Wizard.”

Favorite song: “Enemy” by Oliver Tree.


Favorite musician: Oliver Tree.

Favorite food: Macaroni and cheese.

Beverage of choice: Dr. Pepper.

What are you known for? “I am an open book. When people think of me they think of computers.”

Parents: Kelly and Ian Keller-Heikkila of Baxter.

If You Go

What: Brainerd High School fall play “Almost, Maine.”

When: 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Nov. 22-23, and 2 p.m. Sunday in The Little Theatre at BHS.

Cost: Tickets are $5 for students and $7 for adults.


JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at or 218-855-5851. Follow me at on Twitter.
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