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Jan Maxwell
Jan Maxwell (cropped).jpg
Maxwell in 2010
Janice Elaine Maxwell[1]

(1956-11-20)November 20, 1956
DiedFebruary 11, 2018(2018-02-11) (aged 61)
Manhattan, New York, United States
Alma materMoorhead State University
Years active1989–2016
Spouse(s)Robert Emmet Lunney
AwardsDrama Desk Award (2005, 2010)

Janice Elaine Maxwell (November 20, 1956 – February 11, 2018) was an American stage and television actress. She was a five-time Tony Award nominee and two-time Drama Desk Award winner. In a career spanning over thirty years, Maxwell was one of the most celebrated and critically acclaimed stage actresses of her time.

Maxwell made her Broadway debut in 1989, as an understudy in the musical City of Angels. She received her first Tony nomination in 2005 for the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Her other nominations were for Coram Boy in 2007, Lend Me a Tenor and The Royal Family both in 2010, and Follies in 2012.

Her nominations in two separate Tony Award categories in 2010, made her only the fourth actress to achieve two nominations in a single year. Her 2012 nomination for Follies made her only the second actress to receive a Tony nomination in all four acting categories. Her other Broadway credits include Dancing at Lughnasa (1992), A Doll's House (1997), The Sound of Music (1998) and The Dinner Party (2001).

Maxwell appeared in films and television shows such as I Am Michael with James Franco, Neil LaBute's Billy and Billie (2014–15), The Divide (2014), The Good Wife (2014), and Gossip Girl (2009–2011). From 1994-2003, she appeared in four episodes of the NBC drama Law & Order, each time as a different character. She also appeared in season 3 of Madam Secretary in 2016.

Early life

Maxwell was born in Fargo, North Dakota, as the fifth of six children[1] to former First District Judge, Ralph B. Maxwell, who served in North Dakota from 1967 to 1978,[2] and his wife, Elizabeth "Liz" Maxwell (née Fargusson; 1926–2015),[3] later a lawyer for the EPA.[1] She attended West Fargo High School, West Fargo, North Dakota, University of Utah, and Moorhead State University.[4]

She played the lead role as Calamity Jane in her 1973 High School play Deadwood Dick.


Maxwell made her Broadway debut as an understudy in the Cy ColemanDavid Zippel musical City of Angels in 1989. She eventually took over the dual roles of Carla Haywood and Alaura Kingsley.[5][6]

She appeared in Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa in 1992, which won the Tony Award for Best Play. She replaced original cast member Brid Brennan in the role of Agnes. In 1997, she appeared in A Doll's House opposite Janet McTeer. In 1998, she played Elsa Schraeder in the first Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music.[7][8][9] She then starred opposite John Ritter and Henry Winkler in Neil Simon's The Dinner Party in 2000 and in Sixteen Wounded in 2004 with Judd Hirsch and Martha Plimpton.[10] On television during this time, between 1994 and 2003, she made four guest appearances in the long-running NBC crime drama Law & Order, each time as a different character.

In 2005, she received a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical,[11] for the role of Baroness Bomburst in the stage production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.[12] She also won the Drama Desk Award for this role.[13] In 2006, she starred in Roundabout Theatre Company's Off-Broadway revival of Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr. Sloane for which she received a Drama Desk nomination for Best Actress.[14] Also in 2006, she reunited with her Sound of Music co-star Richard Chamberlain in Hawaii Opera Theatre's production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I in Honolulu, Hawaii.[15] In 2007, she starred as Mrs. Lynch in the Broadway production of Helen Edmundson's Coram Boy at the Imperial Theatre,[16] for which she received her second Tony Award nomination, for Best Featured Actress in a Play, as well as another Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play.[17]

Her Off-Broadway and regional credits include performances in The Seagull at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1985,[18] in House & Garden at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 2002,[19] in A Bad Friend at the Newhouse Theater, Lincoln Center in 2003[20] and at Carnegie Hall in the Stephen Sondheim concert, Opening Doors, in 2004.[21]

In 2008 she appeared Off-Broadway with the Potomac Theatre Project/NYC in Howard Barker's Scenes from an Execution and was nominated for a Drama Desk and NYITT award.[22] In 2008, Maxwell appeared on Broadway in the Manhattan Theater Club production of To Be or Not to Be in the role of Maria Tura at the Friedman Theatre.[23]

She appeared as Julie Cavendish in the Broadway revival of The Royal Family at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre in late 2009.[24][25] For this role she won the 2010 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play.[26] Maxwell starred as Maria in the Broadway revival of Lend Me a Tenor, which began performances at the Music Box Theatre on March 11, 2010.[27]

She won the Outer Critics Circle Award as Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play for this role.[28] Maxwell received two 2010 Tony Award nominations: one for her leading role in The Royal Family in 2009[29] and another for her featured role in Lend Me a Tenor in 2010.[30] She is only the fourth actress to receive double nominations in a single year.[31][32]

Maxwell played the role of Phyllis Rogers Stone in the Kennedy Center production of the Stephen SondheimJames Goldman musical Follies, running from May 7 to June 19, 2011 at the Eisenhower Theater in Washington, DC.[33] Her co-stars were Bernadette Peters, Elaine Paige, Ron Raines and Danny Burstein. She reprised her role in the Broadway limited engagement at the Marquis Theatre, which ran from August 7, 2011 (previews) through January 22, 2012. On October 29, 2011, after the Saturday matinee, Maxwell was hit by a minivan, suffering injuries to her arm and leg, fracturing her fibula.[24] She missed the following two shows, but was back a few days later.[34] Maxwell received Helen Hayes, Fred Astaire, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Tony Award nominations for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for this role.[33] The Tony nomination (her fifth) made her only the second actress to receive nominations in all four acting categories; the first was Angela Lansbury.[33] Maxwell reprised her role in this production's transfer to the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, California from May 3 to June 9, 2012.[35]

She appeared in the PTP/NYC (The Potomac Theatre Project) Off-Broadway production of the Howard Barker play Victory: Choices in Reaction, in a limited engagement in July 2011.[36] In 2013, Maxwell played the role of Skinner in Howard Barker's The Castle: A Triumph with PTP/NYC at the Atlantic Theatre, Stage 2.[37] She appeared in the Off-Broadway production of the Anthony Giardina play, The City of Conversation at the Lincoln Center Mitzi Newhouse Theater, from May 5, 2014 to July 26, 2014. She was nominated for the 2015 Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Actress in a Play, the 2015 Outer Critics Circle Award, Outstanding Actress in a Play, the 2015 Drama Desk Award, Best Actress in a Play and 2015 Drama League Award, Distinguished Performance Award.[38][39] In an interview with Time Out New York in July 2016, Maxwell announced that she was retiring from theatre after the run of her second production of Scenes from an Execution then in rehearsal.[40]

She was also a voice actress and read several audio books, including Mary Higgins Clark's Two Little Girls in Blue[41] and No Place Like Home.[42]

Maxwell starred as a "scheming Senator" in the CBS TV series BrainDead alongside Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Tveit and Tony Shalhoub, which aired from June to September 2016.[43][44]

Personal life and death

Maxwell was married to actor and playwright Robert Emmet Lunney,[45] and they had a son William "Will" Maxwell-Lunney.[46]

Maxwell died on February 11, 2018 from leptomeningeal carcinomatosis complicated from breast cancer at her Manhattan apartment at the age of 61.[24][33][47]

Awards and nominations


Year Award[48] Category Nominated work Result
2003 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play My Old Lady Nominated
2004 Sixteen Wounded Nominated
2005 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Won
2006 Outstanding Actress in a Play Entertaining Mr. Sloane Nominated
2007 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play Coram Boy Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play Nominated
2009 Outstanding Actress in a Play Scenes From an Execution Nominated
2010 Outstanding Actress in a Play The Royal Family Won
Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play Lend Me a Tenor Nominated
2012 Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Follies Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
2014 Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play The Castle Nominated
2015 Outstanding Actress in a Play The City of Conversation Nominated


  1. ^ a b c Gates, Anita (February 12, 2018). "Jan Maxwell, Celebrated Stage Actress, Is Dead at 61". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "North Dakota Supreme Court, Ralph B. Maxwell biography" Archived December 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, retrieved May 24, 2010
  3. ^ "Elizabeth Maxwell 1926-2015". North Dakota Supreme Court. July 20, 2015. Archived from the original on February 13, 2018. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  4. ^ Simonson, Robert."Frightener of Tots, Enemy of Mediocrity" (Partial reference) The New York Times, October 8, 2008 Archived January 6, 2018, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "'City of Angels' listing Archived June 11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Internet Broadway database, retrieved May 24, 2010
  6. ^ Willis, John. Theatre World 1990-1991, Hal Leonard Corporation, 2000, ISBN 1-55783-126-2, p.39
  7. ^ [htt[:// "The Sound of Music', 1998 listing] Archived November 24, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Internet Broadway Database listing, retrieved May 24, 2010
  8. ^ Sommer, Elyse."Review, 'The Sound of Music'" Archived February 1, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, March 13, 1998
  9. ^ Willis, John. Theatre World, 1997-1998 (Vol. 54), Hal Leonard Corporation, 2001 ISBN 1-55783-409-1, p. 37
  10. ^ Jan Maxwell Internet Broadway Database listing Archived October 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine,, retrieved May 24, 2010
  11. ^ Gans, Andrew; Allen, Morgan; and Simonson, Robert. "2004-2005 Tony Nominations Announced; Spamalot Garners 14 Nominations" Archived November 4, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, May 10, 2005
  12. ^ Gans, Andrew."'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' Flies into Hilton Theatre March 27" Archived October 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, March 27, 2005
  13. ^ "Drama Desk awards" Archived July 4, 2008, at Drama Desk, retrieved May 24, 2010
  14. ^ Hernandez, Ernio."Jan Maxwell Will Be Entertaining Mr. Sloane While Emery Stays at Abigail’s Party" Archived October 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, December 16, 2005
  15. ^ Hawaii Opera Theatre listing Archived June 11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, retrieved May 24, 2010
  16. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Orphans' Tale: Coram Boy Arrives on Broadway April 16" Archived March 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, April 16, 2007
  17. ^ Gans, Andrew. "2006-2007 Tony Nominations Announced; Spring Awakening Garners 11 Noms" Archived October 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, May 15, 2007
  18. ^ Gussow, Mel."Theater: 'A Seagull' In Washington"The New York Times, December 17, 1985
  19. ^ Weber, Bruce."Review:Indoor-Outdoor Living for the Fleet of Foot" Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback MachineThe New York Times, May 22, 2002
  20. ^ Sommer, Elyse."Curtain Up Review" Archived February 28, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, June 18, 2003
  21. ^ Gans, Andrew."Song List Announced for Sondheim's Opening Doors Revue" Archived July 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, September 29, 2004.
  22. ^ Hetrick, Adam."Maxwell Will Perform Scenes From an Execution for Potomac Theatre Project" Archived October 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, June 10, 2008
  23. ^ Jones, Kenneth."To Be or Not To Be, Dark Showbiz Comedy, Opens on Broadway Oct. 14" Archived February 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, October 14, 2008
  24. ^ a b c "Jan Maxwell Dies at 61" Archived February 12, 2018, at the Wayback Machine, February 11, 2018
  25. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "'Royal Family' Ends Its Broadway Reign Dec. 13" Archived December 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, December 13, 2009
  26. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Red, Memphis, Bridge, Fences and La Cage Win Drama Desk Awards" Archived March 2, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, May 23, 2010
  27. ^ Hetrick, Adam. Maxwell_and_More_in_Lend_Me_a_Tenor_Broadway_Revival "Maxwell and More in 'Lend Me a Tenor' Broadway Revival", December 17, 2009
  28. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "60th Annual Outer Critics Circle Awards Presented May 27" Archived June 1, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, May 27, 2010
  29. ^ Haun, Harry. "Climbing The Royal Family Tree" Archived October 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, September 26, 2009
  30. ^ Hetrick, Adam." 'Lend Me a Tenor', with LaPaglia, Shalhoub, Bartha and Maxwell, Returns to Broadway" Archived April 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, March 12, 2010
  31. ^ Tony Awards, 2010 nominations Archived May 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, retrieved May 24, 2010
  32. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. "Twice/Thrice as Nice: Jones, Cork, Maxwell, Scott and More Earn Multiple Nominations" Archived May 10, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, May 4, 2010
  33. ^ a b c d McPhee, Ryan. "Jan Maxwell, a Five-Time Tony Award Nominee, Dies at 61" Archived February 12, 2018, at the Wayback Machine Playbill, February 11, 2018
  34. ^ "'FOLLIES' Star Jan Maxwell Hit by Minivan Misses Weekend Shows Archived May 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, October 2011
  35. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Hey, L.A., We're Coming Your Way: 'Follies' Ends Broadway Run Jan. 22" Archived January 24, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, January 22, 2012
  36. ^ Gates, Anita."Theater Review.Puritan Widow Confronts a Randy, Profane King" Archived June 30, 2012, at the Wayback Machine The New York Times, July 20, 2011
  37. ^ Purcell, Carey. "Jan Maxwell and Jennifer Van Dyck to Star in PTP/NYC Season at Atlantic Stage 2" April 30,
  38. ^ " The City of Conversation Listing" Archived May 24, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, accessed May 18, 2015
  39. ^ BWW News Desk. " 'The City Of Conversation', Starring Jan Maxwell, Ends its Twice Extended Run Today" Archived May 24, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, July 26, 2014
  40. ^ "Jan Maxwell talks about her latest role Off Broadway—and why it will be her last". Time Out New York. Archived from the original on April 1, 2016. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  41. ^ "Mary Higgins Clark 'Two Little Girls in Blue' audio book listing"[permanent dead link], retrieved May 25, 2010
  42. ^ "Listing of Maxwell audio books" Archived June 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, retrieved May 25, 2010
  43. ^ Ryan, Maureen. "TV Review: ‘BrainDead’" Archived September 27, 2017, at the Wayback Machine Variety, June 13, 2016
  44. ^ Patten, Dominic. " ‘BrainDead’ Review: ‘Good Wife’ Creators’ D.C. Satire Delightfully Wacky" Archived June 28, 2016, at the Wayback Machine Deadline, June 8, 2016
  45. ^ "Jan Maxwell Obituary". Legacy.
  46. ^ Marks, Peter. "Jan Maxwell's 'Follies' philosophy? Bring it on." Archived August 17, 2016, at the Wayback Machine The Washington Post, May 2, 2011
  47. ^ "Jan Maxwell, Celebrated Stage Actress, Dies at 61". The New York Times. February 12, 2018. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  48. ^ "Jan Maxwell". The Broadway League. Retrieved February 15, 2018.

External links

This page was last edited on 9 April 2021, at 17:08
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