facebook youtube twitter Pinterest

IBDB: Internet Broadway Database
The Broadway League

Official Broadway League sites:

Quick Search For:   In This Category:  

Jane Connell

( b. Oct 27, 1925 Berkeley, California, USA - d. Sep 23, 2013 Englewood, New Jersey, USA ) Female
Also known as: Jane Sperry Bennett [Birthname]
Relations: Wife of Gordon Connell (1948 - 2013) her death

Jane Connell was a career character stage actress who, despite her diminutive stature, commanded many a musical comedy stage -- most notably, through her portrayal of the daffy Agnes Gooch in the original stage production of Jerry Herman's Mame.

Only four-foot-eleven, Ms. Connell was nonetheless a master of the large comic gesture. The Oxford Companion to American Theatre described her as "a tiny woman with a giant, squeaking voice." As the meek, frumpy Gooch in Mame, she was the mouse to Auntie Mame's lion, and the actress made the most of the comic difference between the characters. "Miss Connell...plays it better than it deserves," wrote Stanley Kauffmann in the New York Times, "with the caricature rather than character that it asks."

So identified with the role did she become that, for a time, she was often cast in similar parts. Ms. Connell played Gooch again in a 1983 revival of the show, again opposite Angela Lansbury. She was also one of the few players from the original staging who reprised her part in the poorly received 1974 film version. (She replaced the fired Madeline Kahn.)

She enjoyed a stage comeback and won a Tony Award nomination in 1987 for her performance as the snooty Dutchess of Dene in Me and My Girl.

She and her husband, Gordon Connell, began their careers working at the famous San Francisco nightclubs The Purple Onion and The Hungry I. Upon moving to New York, Ms. Connell found work in the long-running revival of The Threepenny Opera at the Theatre de Lys. Not yet 30, she played the middle-aged Mrs. Peachum.

She portrayed the hapless Princess Winnifred (the role that made Carol Burnett a star) in the London premiere of Once Upon a Mattress. She was part of the Leonard Stillman revue New Faces of 1956, alongside Maggie Smith and Virginia Martin, and in the short-lived musical Drat! The Cat!

Following the success of Mame, Jerry Herman used her again in 1970's Dear World, a musical adaptation of The Madwoman of Chaillot. She found another champion in playwright Ken Ludwig. She starred in Ludwig's hit farce Lend Me a Tenor on Broadway in 1989. The writer was so impressed with her audition that he jumped over a row of seats to get the ear of the director, Jerry Zaks. She would return to work in Ludwig's less successful Moon Over Buffalo in 1995. In between, she was cast in director Mike Ockrent and choreographer Susan Stroman's revivifying treatment of the old Gershwin musical Crazy for You, which had a reworked book by Ludwig.

In 2001, after actress Kathleen Freeman died in the midst of the Broadway run of the musical The Full Monty, Jane Connell assumed her role of the salty, seen-it-all accompanist attempting to turn a group of blue-collar workers into credible male strippers.

Off-Broadway credits included The Golden Apple, No Shoestrings, Put It in Writing, Drat!, The Rivals and the one-person show The Singular Dorothy Parker in 1985.

Source: Playbill.com

ProductionsDate of Productions
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Performer: Jane Connell [Widow Douglas]
Apr 26, 2001 - May 13, 2001
The Full Monty
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Performer: Jane Connell
        Jeanette Burmeister - Replacement (Jul 03, 2001 - Jul 15, 2001)
        Jeanette Burmeister - Replacement
Oct 26, 2000 - Sep 01, 2002
Moon Over Buffalo
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Performer: Jane Connell [Ethel]
Oct 01, 1995 - Jun 30, 1996
Crazy For You
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Performer: Jane Connell [Mother]
Feb 19, 1992 - Jan 07, 1996
Lend Me a Tenor
[Play, Comedy, Farce, Original]
  • Starring: Jane Connell [Julia]
Mar 02, 1989 - Apr 22, 1990
Me and My Girl
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Also Starring: Jane Connell [Maria]
Aug 10, 1986 - Dec 31, 1989
[Musical, Comedy, Revival]
  • Also Starring: Jane Connell [Agnes Gooch]
Jul 24, 1983 - Aug 28, 1983
[Play, Comedy, Play with music, Revival]
  • Performer: Jane Connell [Gamma]
Nov 13, 1972 - Nov 18, 1972
Dear World
[Musical, Original]
  • Also Starring: Jane Connell [Gabrielle]
Feb 06, 1969 - May 31, 1969
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Also Starring: Jane Connell [Agnes Gooch]
May 24, 1966 - Jan 03, 1970
Drat! The Cat!
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Performer: Jane Connell [Matilda Van Guilder]
Oct 10, 1965 - Oct 16, 1965
New Faces of 1956
[Musical, Revue, Original]
  • Performer: Jane Connell [Mme. Interpreter, Old Lady, Edna, Miss Hat, Wife, Harem Houris, Singer, "April in Fairbanks", Singer, "Rouge"]
Jun 14, 1956 - Dec 22, 1956
Threepenny Opera
[Musical, Drama, Revival]
  • Starring: Jane Connell [Mrs. Peachum]
Sep 20, 1955 - Dec 17, 1961
Touring ProductionsDates of Touring Productions
The Full Monty - 2
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Starring: Jane Connell
        Jeanette Burmeister - Replacement
Apr 16, 2002 - Dec 14, 2003
Special EventsDate of Special Events
Angela Lansbury - A Celebration
[Special, Benefit, Original]
  • Starring: Jane Connell [Performer]
Nov 17, 1996 - Nov 17, 1996
1987 Tony Award® Best Featured Actress in a Musical
Me and My Girl [nominee]
Also Starring: Jane Connell
Find out where Jane Connell and are credited together