Catching Up With Jane Krakowski
By Jerry Portwood
While millions know Jane Krakowski as the kooky star (is she?) of TGS on NBC's 30 Rock (or as Elaine from Ally McBeal before that), many others enjoyed her Tony-winning turn in the revival of Nine or her other Broadway shows. Now fans will get a chance to see Krakowski live on stage again when she shows off her vocal chops at this week's concert at Town Hall, which includes material that she's been performing around the country in various venues and gives her a chance to expand her eclectic repertoire some more.
"This show started at Feinstein’s, but Town Hall is a big venue for us, and I've always dreamed of extending it," Krakowski recently explained by phone in between rehearsals for the show. "So we'll be doing that with some certain beloved songs from my Broadway career. I always wanted to expand this show. So we'll have songs by Mitzi Gaynor and Eartha Kitt and Ann-Margret."
We caught up with Krakowski to find out what she'll be doing as 30 Rock finishes next season and who her secret guests might be at the June 8 concert at Town Hall in New York City (tickets, priced at $55, $50 and $45, are available via Ticketmaster.com).
Out: I was just emailing with Cheyenne Jackson, and he mentioned that he will be a special guest at your concert? Is that a secret or is it something that I can reveal?
Jane Krakowski: Oh, It was up to him. But I think it’s absolutely I think it’s OK to mention that he’s coming, if he said so. We’ve found ourselves working on so many of the same projects; every time I get cast for something then Cheyenne is also cast. We want to become the Lunt and Fontanne of today's theater world.
I know you have performed with casts and ensembles in big houses before, but I wonder, is this the biggest solo concert you’ve done? Is there anything different you do to prepare or how you fill the space and time?
Since we’ve been touring the show, we've been in larger houses—Disney Hall in Los Angeles was such a highlight. I truly had one of the great days singing and rehearsing with our guys there. It's a gorgeous facility, and it’s just so brilliantly acoustic. This show at Town Hall will be much bigger, with two acts and an intermission.
But I'll tell you, one of our favorite shows we did was at the Pines in Fire Island. I obviously have many friends who have houses at the Pines, and we wrote all this Pines-specific banter. It was truly one of the great nights I remember performing. But in New York City, it was probably the Broadway Bares event right after I won the Tony for Nine. I really learned what it felt like to be a rockstar, singing as I’m upside down surrounded by these beautiful men.
You are always so sweet and generous when fans see you in New York, but I wonder, has anyone ever gone too far? And you’ve had a run in where you have to tell someone to back off?
People are pretty nice, I have to say. I think it depends on what role you are in at the time. I think certainly, with 30 Rock, they think Jenna is such a character, so exagerrated and crazy that people know I’m just playing a role. When I was Elaine [in Ally McBeal], I think people thought I was more like her—although I don’t think I was.
One of my recent fan experiences was I met a man, who was actually quite young, who had recreated "The Muffin Top" song on youTube. He does the full dance on YouTube, and when he saw me in person, he sort of redid the entire number for me. That was new.
As your character Jenna Maroney has gotten more and more, let’s say, unusual, have you ever been like, I don’t know if I can do this. Or are you up for anything the writers throw at you?
Under the blanket of Tina Fey’s genius, I feel safe: Whatever she thinks we should do, I trust her. I have to say, some times I wonder if we can get way with this. But if Tina says we can, then we will try. Everyone knows Tracy's character and Jenna, they are not right, so they can get away with things that I would question in other characters. Because they don’t know right from wrong.
Tina has a brilliant sensibility of how you can push something. She does it with just the right amount of how far you can push it.
One of my highlights was when we did "Two Black Swans" singing "Oh Holy Night." It was just a little moment we shot at a very long shooting day. We weren’t sure how we were going to shoot it. I loved it. I’m oddly attractive as a black.
So, I wonder now that we know that there’s going to be an end in sight for you with 30 Rock, what do you hope comes along next for you? Are we going to see you singing more?
Yeah, I don’t know yet. Right after Ally McBeal finished, I was very lucky to get into Nine right away, to come back to New York City and have one of the great experiences of my career, doing that Broadway show. Of course, my dream job is to come back to Broadway right away. I miss it so much. For me, being on stage, it reenergizes me for jobs to come. That would be first on my list. And of course, my son is going to be starting preschool so I will need to get a job on television to pay for it.
I know you know Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, and they are friends, so are you interested in being on Smash?
I love Marc and Scott. I am in great creative debt to them, as you may know they involved with practically every song in the show. And they are gonna write us a new treat for this show. I’m so thankful to them, especially for fitting it into their crazy schedule. Smash has become a big thing over at 30 Rock.
Yes, I think you guys have been able to reference it on the show itself.
Even though TGS is a fake show, we’ve always been able to blend it with the real NBC world. Smash blends really well with our ficitional TGS. And I think I’m the Smash target demographic. If I'm not, I don't know who is.
So I do have a bit of a blonde question: I know you’ve performed songs from Gentleman Prefer Blondes, and I wondered if you had seen or heard about Megan Hilty’s recent performance at City Center that got such rave reviews? Maybe we can have a blond vs blond spectacle at your Town Hall show?
Oh I didn't get to see it but I wish I had. That would be amazing. Good idea.
Yeah you could have a faux catfight or something.
I think I should call Megan and see that if she would come on. I think I'm going to call her right now.