Jan Maxwell earned two Tony Award nominations Tuesday for her leading performance in "The Royal Family" and her featured turn in "Lend Me a Tenor." Both of these comedies are contenders for the best play revival award.
One of Maxwell's rivals in the featured actress race is Rosemary Harris, who played her mother in "The Royal Family," the 1927 George S. Kaufman-Edna Ferber chestnut about an acting dynasty modeled on the Barrymores. Harris played Maxwell's part in the 1976 revival, losing the Tony to Irene Worth for "Sweet Bird of Youth."
In "Lend Me a Tenor," Maxwell is playing the part of the put-upon wife of an opera star, which earned Tovah Feldshuh a nomination for the original 1989 production of Ken Ludwig's farce; she lost to Christine Baranski for "Rumors."
Maxwell has two previous Tony nominations. She lost her 2005 bid for featured actress in a musical for "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" to Sara Ramirez from the top tuner "Spamalot," and the 2007 race for featured actress in a play for "Coram Boy" to Rosemary Harris' daughter Jennifer Ehle from the best play champ, "The Coast of Utopia."
Three other actresses have been nominated in two categories in the same year. The first of these -- Amanda Plummer -- was the only one to prevail in either, with her 1982 featured actress in a play win for "Agnes of God." She lost her best actress bid for "A Taste of Honey" to Zoe Caldwell ("Medea"). Plummer is the only Tony champ with parents who are both Tony winners as well. Her father, Christopher Plummer, won best actor in a musical for "Cyrano" in 1974 and best actor in a play for "Barrymore" in 1997. And her mother, Tammy Grimes, won featured actress in a musical for "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" in 1961 and best actress in a play for "Private Lives' in 1970.
In 1984, Dana Ivey made Tony history by being nominated for her featured performances in both a play and a musical. She lost the play prize for "Heartbreak House" to Baranski ("The Real Thing") and her musical bid for "Sunday in the Park with George" to Lila Kedrova for "Zorba" (in the same role that had won her the 1964 supporting actress Oscar).
And in 2002, Kate Burton lost her best actress in a play bid for "Hedda Gabler" to Lindsay Duncan ("Private Lives") and the featured actress in a play race for "The Elephant Man" to Katie Finneran ("Noises Off").
Photo: Rosemary Harris and Jan Maxwell in "The Royal Family." Credit: Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
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