PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Max von Essen

Cue and A   PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Max von Essen Max von Essen — who stars in the Carnegie Hall concerts of Jerry Springer - The Opera — fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire with random facts, backstage trivia and pop culture tidbits.
Max von Essen
Max von Essen Photo by Stephen Mosher


Full given name: Thomas Max von Essen
Hometown: Rockville Centre, Long Island, NY
Zodiac sign: Capricorn. (I don't pay much attention to that stuff, but I bet I'm a total Capricorn.)
Audition song: Audition songs vary. I usually walk in and take requests.
Special skills: I have an oddly high head voice (that's probably how I booked Jerry Springer) and I play piano pretty well. Not sure if people know that.
First Broadway show ever saw: Dreamgirls with Jennifer Holiday.  After, I told my parents, "I want to do that." They were a little confused.   They didn't quite know that I just meant sing on stage, in general. I didn't mean I wanted to do what Jennifer was doing specifically.
If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be? Awesome question. I've been so passionate about West Side Story for so long, I'd give anything to have seen the original.
Current show you have been recommending to friends: August: Osage County and Spring Awakening
Favorite show tune: "I Have Dreamed." I never tire of it. So simple and beautiful.
MAC or PC? MAC. Just bought an amazing new desktop. The screen is like 7 feet wide. It's awesome.
One CD you couldn't live without: My CD of The Life. It brings me such joy.
Last book you read: "Flesh and Blood," and I'm in the middle of "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius."
Must-see TV show: I'm a sucker for "Will and Grace" re-runs, and I hate to miss "Ugly Betty" and most things on HBO.
Last good movie you saw: "Into the Wild" and "No Country for Old Men." Both amazing!
Performer you would drop everything to go see: The Rat Pack in Las Vegas. Imagine?
Pop culture guilty pleasure: Any reality show with models. "Janice Dickinson," anyone? "America's Most Smartest Model"? I mean, c'mon!
First stage kiss: 10th grade. I was Conrad Birdie in Bye Bye Birdie, and I had to kiss the Kim.  
Favorite post-show meal: The kobe beef steak at Marseilles after a show. Delicious. Or a bottle of Barbera D'Alba at Nizza with a plate of meats and cheeses. Amazing. Then I just roll home.
How you got your Equity card: Playing Matt Off-Broadway in The Fantasticks.
Worst missed cue/onstage mishap: How much time do you have? LOL. Running to the balcony in West Side Story, hitting a slick spot on the stage and falling with such momentum that I slid into the wings. Missing an entire scene in My Fair Lady. You got it, I got confused, and somehow missed my entrance. Once I was so sick during a performance of another show that I stopped in the middle of the number, and walked off stage. I did come back two minutes later and finished. Not my finest moment. I've also been onstage when other actors have missed their entrances. Let's just say Christine Baranski and I once performed a scene that Lawrence and Lee had never written for Mame. We had to fill the time somehow.
Worst costume ever: I think I'm about to wear it at Carnegie Hall. But I mean "worst" in a good way. (In case my costume designer is reading this.)
Cats or dogs? I don't have any pets, but when and if I do...definitely a dog!
Favorite cereal: Rice puffs. Well, my favorite is Lucky Charms, but it doesn't really fit into my diet.
Who would play you in the movie? I don't care as long as I get to sing any vocal tracks. I'll be the Marni Nixon of my own movie.
Worst job you ever had: Waiting tables for two months. Honestly, it wasn't a bad job, but I couldn't deal with the stress. I'd tell you about my job as a maintenance man in an office building across the street from Penn Station, but I'm saving that one for Ellen or Oprah.
What musical role have you been dying to play? The one that's written for me! Are you reading this, Stephen? Sondheim or Schwartz, I'm not picky!
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