Fynsworth Alley: Victoria Maxwell

Originally published on Fynsworth Alley.

Victoria Maxwell is one-third of the Momentum Productions, the producers of Bells Are Ringing. What’s more, Victoria is one of the last of an endangered breed — the independent producer on Broadway. In an industry that seems to be dominated by corporate producers like Disney and SFX, Victoria has carved out a successful career putting on shows as diverse as Damn Yankees, Jeffrey, Stomp, Play On!, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, and last year’s Pulitzer Prize winner, Dinner With Friends.

DL: How did you get involved in producing?

VM: Well, I’m partners with my brother, Mitchell Maxwell. He’s eleven years older than I am, and he was producing plays. He produced his first play in New York when he was 21. Then he directed in England, and soon he was producing more plays. In 1984, he was producing a wonderful play called To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, which starred Sarah Jessica Parker, Cheryl McFadden, and David Rasche. I was working at the Writers and Artists Agency as sort of an interim receptionist; it was not really a very fun job, but both the writer and the director on that project were represented by the Writers and Artists Agency. So, I had already read the contracts, I had already seen the play. So when they were staffing the show to move it from the Ensemble Studio Theatre to an off-Broadway theatre, I said to my brother, “You have to hire production assistants for the show anyway. I’ve already read the contracts and seen the project, why don’t you try me?” And I did really well – I did everything! I threw the opening night party, I closed the partnership, I spoke to all the investors… I was a one-man-band. I realized that it was really fun and really exciting. There was always a fire to put out, there was always someone to talk to, and then the thing that made it most exciting was at the end of the day, 350 people sat in a theatre and saw your work. The non-stop energy of it, and the immediate audience feedback, people were immediately touched or you made them laugh or you made them cry – it was exciting!
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Fynsworth Alley: Liz Larsen

Originally published on Fynsworth Alley.

 

Liz Larsen

Liz Larsen

Liz Larsen is perhaps best known for her role as the forensics specialist on TV’s Law and Order, or perhaps for her role as Cleo in the acclaimed Broadway revival of The Most Happy Fella. She has also appeared on Broadway in Starmites, Damn Yankees, and Fiddler on the Roof, off-Broadway in A New Brain, Little By Little, and The New Yorkers, as well as in regional theaters across the country. She has appeared on several Fynsworth Alley releases, including Lost in Boston The Ultimate Collection and Prime Time Musicals, on which she sings a duet with her husband, Sal Viviano.

DL: How did you get your start in show business?

LL: I grew up in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and in those days there was the Bucks County playhouse was sometimes used as a Broadway tryout house, but it was a really summer stock place to work. Also, across the river was the Lambertsville Music Circus – it was a really big tent that played musicals during the summer. My mother was press agent on and off for both of those theatres. So, my first show was The King and I at the Music Circus when I was three. I was the youngest kid, and Elaine Stritch played Anna. She gave me a kick one night – during the death scene. Anna wears those big hoop skirts, and I decided on opening night that it would be really funny to see if I could beat my sister to get my entire body underneath the skirt. I guess I got there faster than my sister and said, “Ha ha, Karen,” (that’s my sister’s name), and I got a big kick in the ass from Elaine Stritch. That was my introduction to show business. Other than that, you know, I would be a kid in a lot of their shows, but mostly I saw all of these shows twenty or thirty times. My mother would just sit me in the balcony and I’d watch these plays over and over. I remember when I was six watching The Lion in Winter over and over with George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst. I don’t remember it at all, except he was really intense. And I remember seeing James Earl Jones do The Emperor Jones. All I remember from that was “The drums, the drums.” I think I was four. So I saw all these things, and even as I grew older, after school I would go to the Playhouse, and I remember seeing Cuckoo’s Nest twenty-four times, and 1776 over thirty times, and Tea and Sympathy… Just a lot of great plays with a lot of really great people in them.

DL: So was it a foregone conclusion that that’s what you wanted to do when you grew up?

LL: I guess it was, but I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I just knew I loved to watch it and to be there. I guess I just kind of went into it without thinking about it. It wasn’t really a decision.
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