Jane Krakowski is probably best known for her TV roles as Elaine Vassal on Ally McBeal and, more recently, as Jenna Maroney on NBC’s 30 Rock, but she is also a celebrated musical theater performer. She made her Broadway debut at 18, has a Tony and an Olivier in her trophy cabinet, and next week she’ll be singing at New York’s Town Hall.
Slate spoke with her about her upcoming concert, the end of 30 Rock, and her love of New York City.
Slate: You’re performing at Town Hall on June 8. What’s the focus of the show?
Jane Krakowski: I’m very excited to be playing Town Hall. For the longest time I’ve walked by and seen people’s posters there, and I was so happy when they asked me to perform there. I have a CD out called The Laziest Gal in Town, which we’ve been touring around the country, and this is a sort of expanded, opened-up version of that show. It will be an hommage to the women that I have loved in the past, like Mitzi Gaynor, Eartha Kitt, and Ann-Margret—all my sexy singing and dancing women that I have admired over the years—and because Town Hall is a big venue, we’re including some Broadway songs from shows that I’ve been in. We’re going to have some guest stars and perhaps a 30 Rock section as well.
Slate: You have this amazing theater background, but because television has such a broad reach, you’re best known for your TV roles. Do you worry that people will go to the concert expecting to see Jenna rather than Jane?
Krakowski: I think at this point people know that I have this other career as well. Certainly, Jenna sings and does comedic numbers on 30 Rock, but I do much more comedic or sent-up versions of song-and-dance on those shows. I think it’s fun for people to see more of the real deal.
Slate: I think people are often surprised by the quality of Broadway musical theater and its performers.
Krakowski: I was raised coming to every Broadway show and was so influenced by them. It is my first love. I love how hard it is. I love the discipline of how your whole day is scheduled to be able to do the performance at 8 every single night. You have to protect yourself and take care of yourself to be ready to go at 8.
Slate: And twice on Wednesdays and Saturdays!
I can barely bring myself to say this, but 30 Rock is approaching its end—there are just 13 more episodes to come next season. Do you know what’s in store for Jenna and TGS?
Krakowski: I have no idea. I’m looking forward to seeing how the writers are going to bring things to an end. I’m going to miss it terribly. I’m in denial that it’s ending.
Slate: 30 Rock pioneered the concept of the EGOT—someone who wins an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. You’re a quarter of the way there. Is it difficult to shift between the various performing arts communities—theater, music, TV, film.
Krakowski: I really love that I get to jump from one to the other. Everybody’s crossing over these days. You’re a movie star, but you’re also a Grammy-award-winning recording artist and have your own clothing line.
Slate: Another part of that crossover is that New York is a center for TV again. How important is New York to you?
Krakowski: I love being a New Yorker. My parents were born and raised in Brooklyn—it’s in our souls. I think I’m the only cast member from Ally McBeal who moved back to New York right away. I have been lucky enough for the last seven years to have a job here. I’d like my son to be raised here, so I’m hoping that my next job will stay in New York as well.
Slate: What’s your favorite thing on the Internet right now?
Krakowski: I have a 13-month-old son at home, so I don’t have that much time to search the Internet for awesomeness. Most of my free time is heavily involved with Music for Aardvarks, because that’s what makes my son so happy. I wake up singing “Taxi” or “Avenue A.”
Slate: What’s that?
Krakowski: Music for Aardvarks makes very New York City-specific kids songs. Right now I’m supposed to be learning all this material for Town Hall, and I can’t get the taxi song out of my head.
This interview has been edited and condensed.