“It’s been seven years since I’ve been on stage,” Cynthia Nixon tells Tamsen Fadal on The Broadway Show. “I can’t remember another time in my life when I haven’t been on stage for seven years.”
Coincidentally, the play that brings her back to the stage after this extended hiatus is called The Seven Year Disappear, a New Group production written by Jordan Seavey and beginning performance February 6 at the Pershing Square Signature Center. In it, Nixon plays a world-famous performance artist who disappears for seven years just as she premieres a new work at MoMA. “The other actor is the amazing Taylor Trensch who’s playing my son,” says Nixon. “I’m a single mom and he’s my gay son and we’re incredibly close. And so he goes into total free fall: Where did I go and why did I go? But I also then play all the people in his life in that interim seven years.”
After a bit of quibbling over the math, Nixon counts a total of eight characters that she’ll be playing in the production. “Different ages, genders, ethnicities, classes, you name it,” she says.
A two-time Tony Award winner—first for David Lindsay-Abaire’s Rabbit Hole in 2006 and again in 2017 for Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes, in which she traded off lead characters each night with her co-star Laura Linney—Cynthia Nixon is a natural shapeshifter. Anyone following the television projects that have kept her tied up for the past several years has seen just how limitless and unpredictable her performances can be.
On HBO’s The Gilded Age—a show with a Tony Award winner ‘round every corner—she plays the mild-mannered Ada, a foil to her sister Agnes (played by two-time Tony winner Christine Baranski), who serves as matriarch of the old-monied van Rhijns. As Nixon describes their respective roles, “She’s making decisions and barking and in charge of the money. I’m scurrying around after her trying to mend everybody’s feelings.”
Skipping ahead 150 years, she’s also back inside the shoes of her career’s most defining character—Miranda Hobbes in the Sex and the City reboot, And Just Like That. “I was so thrilled that when the series came together,” Nixon comments. “They didn’t try and jazz us all up with a lot of 25-year-olds or whatever. I am sure it’s a very interesting period in a man’s life too, but it’s a very interesting period in a woman’s life.”
The best thing about these varied, searching and often inscrutable characters? “They’re all in New York.”
“It’s a really daunting hill to play all these different characters in one evening,” Nixon says of her latest turn at The New Group, one of her theatrical home bases. “But again, that’s one of the reasons all of us come back to the stage. You get opportunities to stretch and grow and risk.”