Perpetual middle child Eve Plumb grows up in the racy
‘Love, Loss & What I Wore’
Here’s a story of a lovely lady. Who’s been busy with a career of her own.
You know her best as Jan, middle child on the cult sitcom The Brady Bunch as well as its spin-offs, The Brady Kids, The Brady Girls Get Married, The Brady Brides, The Bradys and even A Very Brady Christmas. Her plaintive call, “Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!” has been enshrined in the Zeitgeist as a call of frustration along with William Shatner’s “Khaaaaannnnnn!”
So if you see Eve Plumb in her Dallas appearance this week in the monologue-driven comedy Love, Loss and What I Wore at the Wyly Theatre, be forewarned: Jan Brady drops a few F-bombs.
You might feel scandalized, but for Plumb, it’s just another adult role, of which she has had many.
Plumb was just 11 when she was cast in The Brady Bunch, the quintessential family comedy that ran for five seasons but lived on for decades longer in countless reruns. As the studious, insecure Jan, Plumb was a kind of avatar for all middle kids. But her work has continued far beyond that series. Devoted fans will even recall her groundbreaking TV movie Dawn: Portrait of a Teenaged Runaway, which she made when she was 18.
“Beyond a certain level, any actor is happy to get an audition,” says Plumb on the phone from North Carolina, where she is wrapping up a run in Plaza Suite. “I definitely auditioned for Dawn and was lucky enough to get it. It was fortunate that it was the first big job I had after The Brady Bunch. I felt ready for it — it felt great to do. But all my roles have been hard-won.”
Last year, she appeared in the indie film Blue Ruin, which was a hit on the festival circuit. Initially, though, she was hesitant to take it on.
“When I read the script, it was bloodbath! I thought, ‘I’m just not this person,’ she says. “But I took a chance. If you don’t try it, you can’t lose, right? The first time I saw it was at the Sundance Film Festival, and it’s absolutely thrilling. All of the gun stuff seemed justified.”
She was lucky again, she says, to be cast in Love, Loss, in which a slate of five actresses alternate amusing, racy and sometimes touching monologues about women recalling important moments in their lives and what they were wearing at the time.
“I did [the show] for two cycles in New York and had a great time doing it there. Then I did it again in Charlotte a couple of months ago. It’s so much fun and I always make great friends with the other women,” she says.
Each production is tailored to the specific cast — the one in Dallas also includes Tony winner Daisy Eagan, Concetta Tomei, Nancy Giles and Ashley Austin Morris — though Plumb has a favorite monologue about a woman whose husband is in prison and what she wears when she visits him. Plumb herself has a complex relationship to clothes.
“I think everyone is concerned about what they wear,” she says. “Even those who say, ‘the hell with it, I don’t care’ … that’s a decision — and I do that often. I don’t shop designer, I don’t wear high-heels but I am very involved in my clothing.”
One of Plumb’s strangest recent encounters led to another lucky break. She was watching TV one day when a new commercial for Snickers came on that incorporates footage from The Brady Bunch interspersed with actors Danny Trejo and Steve Buscemi representing “hangry” versions of the Brady girls. Buscemi played Jan.
“I thought that’s sort of strange,” she says, but didn’t think much of it. A few months later, she met a family friend of the Buscemis. “She dialed a number and handed me the phone and it’s Steve Buscemi on the other line!” she recalls. They hit it off and exchanged contact information; a few months later, Buscemi called and invited Plumb to appear on his AOL talk show Park Bench. So, did they end up discussing the Snickers ad?
“We did,” Plumb says. “I told him, ‘If I were to be turned into anyone when I’m angry, I would want it to be you.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Love, Loss and What I Wore is performed at the Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St., and not at City Performance Hall next door as indicated.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 19, 2015.