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If you’re a regular Chicago theatergoer, you’ve probably seen John Judd on stage. For years he has been a fixture in the local theater scene, appearing regularly in work here at the Goodman (Shining City, A Christmas Carol, The Iceman Cometh) and at most major theaters throughout the area, effortlessly shifting from role to role with total command of the various characters—and accents—he takes on. John is currently appearing in Sweet Bird of Youth as the fearsome Boss Finley; here’s our Backstage interview with one of Chicago’s finest.
1. Place of birth and/or hometown? I was born in Aurora, Illinois. I grew up all over the Midwest (Iowa, Indiana, Ohio), went to college in Texas and moved to Chicago in 1979.
2. First professional role/ production you were in? I started out doing improv in Chicago in 1985, a little experiment that ended up leading to a life in the theatre.
3. Favorite professional role/ production you were in? I have many favorites but the current one and the next one are always the best.
4. Dream role or production you hope to be in in the future? I'd love to play Willy Loman.
5. Role you know you'll never get to play because of your age/sex/race but would love to play in an alternate universe? Never say never. I got to play Vershinin in Three Sisters this year. That being said, I fear I may not get to play George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, one of my dream roles.
6. Production or role you've experienced as an audience member that left you speechless? August: Osage County comes to mind.
7. Biggest on stage flub and how you handled it? I was tardy for an entrance once in Othello (covered bravely by David Dastmalchian). I will never let that happen again.
8. Pre- or post-show ritual? It varies from play to play but always before the show I say all the words I have in the play. I sometimes listen to music which is related somehow to the character. Sometimes I'll do push-ups or some kind of physical warm up. If I'm not the first one on stage I listen to the play over the monitor or from backstage.
9. Favorite thing about working in Chicago? In Chicago we do it from the heart.
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