Judy McLane reigns as Broadway’s favorite vixen, charming audiences (and the young guys in the cast) as sexy Dynamo Tanya in Mamma Mia! Backstage at the Winter Garden Theatre, McLane displays keepsakes from family, friends and causes that are close to her heart, including the Cheetah Conservation Fund targeting endangered cats of Africa. This live-wire yet down-to-earth actress shared her passions during a recent visit with Broadway.com.
Photo by Jenny Anderson for Broadway.com
“The animals of Africa are dear to my heart. These are photos of a lion I saw in South Africa, and I have a picture of myself whispering sweet nothings into an elephant’s ear at a sanctuary I visited. There’s also a snapshot of me with a baby cheetah in Cincinnati, where I help raise money for the Cheetah Conservation Fund. They have an amazing program in which they send Anatolian shepherd dogs to guard goat herds in Namibia so the goat farmers won’t kill off the cheetahs.”
“My mom and dad are both gone now, so my brothers and sisters are just the world to me. I’m the youngest of the five, and we all stay really tight.”
“My dear friend Tracy Less is a commander in the Navy reserves. Before she went to Afghanistan, I gave her the Saint Christopher medal my dad wore in World War II for protection. It has the Marine emblem on the back. I said, ‘You need to bring this back.’ She did, and she gave me her dog tag. I keep them both in my dressing room with a picture of Tracy and the flag in Afghanistan.”
“These are my angel cards, which I’ve been using for years. Before every show, I take them around and let everybody pick a card. Whatever you draw is your word for the day—things like ‘depth’ or ‘grace’ or ‘spontaneity.’ On your birthday, you get to pick two cards, one for the day and one for the coming year.”
“I love this picture of my mom when she was a sassy girl, in 1940-something. She’s at a bar with her sister and her best friend, and they all look very ‘done.’ Isn’t it fantastic? My character, Tanya, is also ‘done,’ so it’s cool to have the picture here, with this show especially.”