Things came kind of easily for Daisy Eagan. At age 11, she was the youngest female to ever win a Tony Award.
“I had some talent and an awful lot of luck,” said Eagan, now 38 and part of the all-star cast in the national touring production of “The Humans,” coming to Proctors next Tuesday for eight performances in six days. “The first thing I auditioned for I got, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and then I went right to Broadway for ‘Les Miz,’ and then ‘The Secret Garden.'”
Eagan’s portrayal of Mary Lennox in “The Secret Garden” earned her the Tony Award in 1991. Two years later, however, her life changed drastically when her mother died of cancer. Then, as she got older, the roles she had previously secured for herself so easily weren’t there for her. In her late teens she stopped performing, and only got back into it after being encouraged by friends.
“I had a tremendous amount of success very early, and that success just kept me going,” said Eagan. “I don’t know if I really was aware of everything going on. I had booked jobs so easily, and then things changed.”
Eagan ended up going to college and working as a school administrator. She had an office door with her name on it, and people would walk in and ask her, “Are you the Daisy Eagan?”
She attended Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and ended up at Antioch University in Los Angeles with a degree in psychology and creative writing. Since her return to performing, she has been onstage, in televison and in film, and most recently had a recurring role in the popular HBO series “Girls” with Lena Dunham and Adam Driver. In it, she plays a young actress who stars as Dunham’s character in what became a show within the show.
“It was a lot of fun and I’ve been compared to Lena many, many times,” said Eagan, “I knew the casting director, and all the other stars were aligned. We shot those shows during the summer of 2016, and it went pretty quickly. Adam Driver was a dream to work with, so it was a great experience.”
Theater and television are Eagan’s favorite ways to engage her passion,.
“I’ll go wherever the work is, but I prefer the stage and TV to movies,” she said. “I’m not even sure if I can tell you why. TV offers something new and different each week, and I’ll always love doing stage work. The theater will always be my first love.”
What Eagan really wants to do is write more.
“In a perfect world I’d be in a writer’s room for a TV comedy and have a couple of plays I’m working on, too,” she said. “My plays would be much more serious.”
Perhaps something like “The Humans.” The story is set in Manhattan at Thanksgiving and centers around a family dealing with aging, illness and slow economy.
“It’s a beautifully written play and anyone can find something in it to relate to,” Eagan said of Stephen Karam’s 2016 Tony Award winner for Best Play. “It’s so impressive that he wrote it in his 30s and he would have that much perspective. I hadn’t seen the play, but I knew there were two roles in it that I could play, so my mission was to get cast. When the opportunity came to audition I jumped at it.”
Eagan was also thrilled to be sharing the stage with two Hollywood veterans, Richard Thomas and Pamela Reed. Thomas played John-Boy in the popular TV series “The Waltons” in the 1970s, and Reed has had a busy TV and film career since 1980, when she played Belle Starr in “The Long Riders.”
“The Humans” national tour started in Seattle in November and winds down in July.
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: Opens Tuesday and runs through March 11
HOW MUCH: $70-$20
MORE INFO: (518) 346-6204, www.proctors.org