PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Double Tony Award Nominee Jan Maxwell

By Ernio Hernandez
01 Jun 2010

Jan Maxwell
Jan Maxwell
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Jan Maxwell — Tony Award nominee for the revivals of The Royal Family and Lend Me a Tenor — fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire with random facts, backstage trivia and pop culture tidbits.


Full given name: Janice Elaine Maxwell
Hometown: West Fargo, North Dakota
Special skills: I can stare at a blank wall for a very long time. And, with no hands, tie a cherry stem in my mouth in 14 seconds (family record - and no, we’re not kinky, we just get bored at restaurants… wait, that sounds even kinkier…)
How you got the nomination news: On Playbill.com in the yard of my neighbors’ house upstate NY swiping their wi-fi. I was stunned. But I didn’t get emotional until on my way home, I pulled over, turned on my phone and saw over a hundred email and phone messages from theatre friends I had worked with over the years. So many heartfelt good wishes made me have a big grateful bawl.
Nominee you're most excited for: Well, I’m pretty excited, in fact I keep slapping myself… but it’s also great to see Kate Baldwin’s name in there.
Previous Tony experience: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Coram Boy
First Broadway show ever saw: Pippin, I think.
If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be? Glass Menagerie with Laurette Taylor.
Current show you have been recommending to friends: GATZ by the Elevator Repair Service — it’s coming to the Public in October. Go!
Favorite showtune: I don’t know if it’s my favorite, but when I think of my son, a Sondheim song comes to mind - "Loving You." The first line of that song makes me fall apart: "Loving you is not a choice, it’s who I am."
Most played song on your iPod: Gnarls Barkley – "Crazy"
Web obsession: Goodguide.com
Last book you read: I’m on "Half the Sky" by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.
Favorite board game: Scrabble
Performer you would drop everything to go see: My son, Will.
Pop culture guilty pleasure: Rap
First stage kiss: Sally Bowles? (college)
Favorite post-show meal: I try not to eat after the show… and fail. With the new year, I became a vegetarian and gluten-free (hate it!), so my dietary choices are pretty bleak.
How you got your Equity card: 4th national tour of Annie
Worst flubbed line: I was in Sound of Music on Broadway and about to take a leave of absence to do Camille in D.C., so my head was pretty full from memorizing Camille in my dressing room. One night, I was on stage watching the Von Trapp children exit during my first scene and started to follow them off. Fred Applegate, playing Max, would then stop me with his line, "So Elsa, have you convinced Georg to marry you yet?" For some reason, after his line, I turned around and stared at him for a long while (he says I could not have looked more irritated) and finally asked him, “What are you talking about?” A pause. His eyebrows went from horizontal to vertical. He started again, "I said..." and s-l-o-w-l-y repeated the line as he rolled his head toward the audience to indicate that we were actually on stage doing a play right now. I looked out at the audience, then back at him, and said, "Oh, that." and went on with the scene. We got off stage and he turned to me and hissed, "What am I talking about ???" We both burst out laughing and fell on the floor. We bonded forever that night; it still cracks us up.
Who have you played on "Law & Order"? Which edition? I’ve killed three or four people on the mother ship. If you see me, you can turn it off… I did it.
Worst costume ever: I played a plumbing leak once… yards and yards of blue paint-crumpled muslin over me with a face mask with eye holes tied to my head. The children in the audience, I’m sure, found it very real and nuanced.
Pets' names: Buddy (dog) and Biscuit (cat) - (shelter named the cat. I call her Bitchkit.)
Who would play you in the movie? What?! Nobody would make a movie about me . . . unless I start murdering people right now.
TV or commercial gig you most enjoyed: Voiceovers. They subsidize my theatre habit. I’m eternally grateful to Allan Duncan, who got me started.
Leading lady/man role you've been dying to play Bradshaw in Howard Barker's Victory.