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InDepth InterView UpDate: Jane Lynch On SEE JANE SING, GLEE Final Season, New TV Pilot ANGEL FROM HELL & More

Today we are talking to an Emmy Award-winning stage and screen star notable for her iconic leading role on long-running musical dramedy series GLEE in addition to numerous high profile roles in films, television and Broadway - the heartfelt and hilarious Jane Lynch. Discussing all aspects of her exciting new concert tour SEE JANE SING, Lynch opens up about the songs, stories and surprises that are in store for the lucky attendees at her East Coast appearances this month as well as clues us in on some of the musical selections that we can anticipate enjoying with Lynch accompanied by frequent collaborator Kate Flannery as well as her band. Additionally, Lynch reflects on the final season of GLEE, noting her favorite performances and moments as well as shares her insights into the worldwide phenomenon itself and whether or not she would enjoy being involved in future musical event. Plus, Lynch looks ahead to new projects including several feature films as well as a pilot for a brand new sitcom that very well could appear on small screens across the country as soon as this Fall for CBS titled ANGEL FROM HELL. Plus, Lynch recounts stories from her hit Broadway run in ANNIE, muses on favorite musicals, touches on the upcoming spate of new episodes of her Golden Globe-winning hosting gig on HOLLYWOOD GAME NIGHT and much, much more!

More information on SEE JANE SING on April 23 at the Count Basie Theatre In New Jersey is available at the official site here.

The Winner Takes It All

PC: BroadwayWorld had the privilege of world premiering your "Trolley Song" from MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS with Carol Burnett from the final season of GLEE earlier this year (available here).

JL: Yes, I know! I remember that.

PC: How did that song come about?

JL: Well, it was a real honor to have Carol back and we are so glad that she came back and did it for us. Basically, Ryan [Murphy] asked her, "What song would you like to do?" and he gave her two choices, which were "Tomorrow" from ANNIE or "The Trolley Song" and she said she wanted to do "The Trolley Song".

PC: A wise decision.

JL: So, we did that in the scene and it was such a joy to do! You know, I remember that song so fondly from MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS and I remember the girls from SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE who used to sing that - Jan Hooks and Nora Dunn - so it was a real joy to be one of the many storied duos who have sang that great song over the years.

PC: A special thrill to have two famed Miss Hannigans onstage together, as well!

JL: Oh, yeah! Definitely.

PC: Do you feel a kinship to that role in particular? You introduced it to a new generation with "Little Girls" on GLEE as well as playing the part in the most recent Broadway revival, of course.

JL: Yeah, I do feel a particular connection to that role. Really, it was a true joy to do her - to play her - and to get deep down inside of her and I hope that I was able to bring some of the frustration that she had with her stage in life and show people some of the vulnerability - that was sort of my goal.

PC: And you certainly succeeded at it.

JL: I wanted to focus less on the ambitious, "Get me outta here!"-type thing and more on the drunk underneath who's like, "I'm never going to get outta here!" [Mock Cries.]

PC: Are you familiar with the ANNIE 2 sequel focusing on Miss Hannigan?

JL: Yes, I am, actually - it starred Dorothy Loudon and Todd Ellison was the musical director and he is the musical director of our show and also was for that particular ANNIE, too!

PC: Small world. Have you two discussed it at all?

JL: Oh, yeah, we've talked all about it! I know that it did not fare very well, though - I guess ANNIE is the one to keep doing, not ANNIE 2.

PC: Would you be open to appearing in a future production if they wanted to try out the material?

JL: Well, I have a feeling they don't want to revive it! [Laughs.]

PC: Given there are so many Spring musicals and it finally seems to be bursting out all over, is there one in particular you enjoy?

JL: FINIAN'S RAINBOW. Wasn't that the Spring?

PC: I think so.

JL: I love that song, "Look To The Rainbow" - [Sings.] "Look, look, look to the rainbow." Also, I love OKLAHOMA! too... but, that might be late-Summer?

PC: Could be...

JL: [Sings.] "The corn is as high as an elephant's eye?" That's late-Summer!

PC: What can you tell me about the pilot you are currently filming?

JL: Well, it's called ANGEL FROM HELL and it is a CBS pilot - a half-hour pilot that I am starring in with Maggie Lawson, who was on PSYCH. She is a wonderful, wonderful actress - she's in her 30s and a beautiful girl and really terrific.

PC: What's it about?

JL: Well, Maggie plays this driven, sort of Type A personality and then I show up as her kind of floppy, homeless lady guardian angel. So, she is always wondering, "Is this just a crazy homeless lady or is this a guardian angel who I should listen to?"

PC: It seems as though the absurdist vibe of people like Christopher Durang is starting to infiltrate TV comedy more and more. Have you seen UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT yet, for instance?

JL: I have seen bits and pieces of it, yeah - and I think you are completely right. There's this weird kind of coming-in-from-left-field thing going on and I love it - I am a huge fan of Christopher Durang.

PC: Is there a role of his you'd love to do?

JL: Oh, yeah! I used to do a monologue from one of his plays, actually - from BETTY'S SUMMER VACATION. I loved it. I used to audition with it all the time and I loved to do it.

PC: What is the general plan for ANGEL FROM HELL at this stage as far as you know?

JL: Well, we are still shooting it right now, so after we wrap and they lock the episode then the executives will all go into a big conference room and decide our fate. [Laughs.]

PC: Are you planning to have it be your big upcoming project or do you have some other gigs lined up, too?

JL: We're really hoping it goes to series - I love the show and I love the concept. I have to say, though, I'd be pretty happy to stay on the road with SEE JANE SING, too - I'm having a really good time. It could go either way, but I do have to say that the more we work on ANGEL FROM HELL the more I want to do that all the time - we're having so much fun.

PC: Would you like to film SEE JANE SING at some point?

JL: Yes, I would love to. We're actually working something out right now - I'm not sure if it will be PBS or what it will be; there are a bunch of different ways that you can do it now with the Hulus and the Netflixes and the Amazons and HSN and Yahoo and all the platforms.

PC: As an iconic TV character already and a stalwart sitcom actress, how do you see the next 10 years playing out for network TV with all of these various new entertainment platforms?

JL: Well, I think that network TV is going to either have to reinvent itself or it's going to have to be more competitive - there are just so many options now with streaming and everything. There is so much more great television now than there ever has been before - and they are allowing great show-runners and creators to really have their own voice.

PC: It's a new era.

JL: It is. I mean, it's so amazing that you can give somebody like David Fincher HOUSE OF CARDS and he can do whatever he wants - Netflix doesn't say, "Oh, you can't do that," or, "We need a subplot here about this." It's pretty neat that it is allowing the creatives to be creative.

PC: Hopefully the networks, cable and streaming will be able to continue to co-exist for the foreseeable future.

JL: I hope so, too - and I think they can. The days of turning to the networks exclusively are obviously gone, though - I guess I am stating the obvious there.

PC: Going from stage to screen, is it true that you quit in the middle of your first play?

JL: [Laughs.] Yes, this is true! It was a condensed version of THE PRINCESS & THE PEA - it was called THE UGLY DUCKLING. I played the king - of course, starting that pattern of playing roles originally written for men. So, I didn't get a laugh in the first rehearsal that we had, but I had gotten one in the audition, so I thought I was bad and I just quit!

PC: Right on the spot?

JL: Right there! I was so afraid of failing that I just ran away from it.

PC: Is that your instant reaction to fear - flight?

JL: Well, it never happened again - ever - but, I suffered so much at the hands of that act that I didn't get to be in that play and I got a reputation in my little high school of being a quitter and I didn't do another school play until my senior year. I was devastated - absolutely devastated! I dreamt about it all the time, I went through fits of sorrow over it - oh, it was terrible! But, I never walked away from anything ever again.

PC: Do you think it was pure fear or something else?

JL: I think it was walking up to your destiny and then chickening out. It was then that I realized, "I have to stick it out. This is what I want to do and this is what I was born to do. I have to take the chance of 'failing' and making a fool of myself if I must." So, I made that decision subconsciously, not consciously, to never say no to anything again - so, now, I say yes to everything!

PC: Speaking of auditions and first rehearsals, what did you sing for your GLEE audition? Did you even have to sing?

JL: I actually didn't audition for GLEE - I was offered the role, which was a lovely thing.

PC: They must have known you could sing because of A MIGHTY WIND, then, right?

JL: I don't know that they even cast me to sing - I don't know if they thought I ever would sing on the show; they just cast me as the villain. They probably said, "Oh, well, if they need her to sing then she can." Something like that.

PC: "Vogue" certainly proved any naysayers wrong right off the bat as far as your ability to bring it vocally is concerned!

JL: Right! Right. I hope so.

PC: I was curious: do you play any instruments? Obviously, you play the banjo in A MIGHTY WIND.

JL: Oh, no - I don't consider myself a musician at all. I have a great band that I play with in SEE JANE SING, though - on the East Coast I have a three-piece that is led by Todd Ellison, who we were talking about before, along with two other musicians who are Broadway musicians; they are my East Coast trio. They are just the best - they started out from the beginning with me at 54 Below and now they are still hanging with me.

PC: 54 Below is one of the very best concert venues, would you agree?

JL: Oh, totally! Totally! Here's the story, actually, since you asked: after I did ANNIE, they called me and asked me, "Would you like four nights here to do your act?" and, I said, "Well, I don't have an act, but I will take those four nights and I will start an act." So, I gave myself a deadline and I created this act. Kate Flannery from THE OFFICE is my good friend and she comes with me and sings some songs with me and my friend Tim Davis - who ARRANGED all the vocals on GLEE and is a great singer himself - he is a great friend and so he tours with us everywhere, as well. We've got tight three-part harmonies - we do "Don't Ask Alice" from THE BRADY BUNCH and "White Rabbit" in three-part harmony. Then, Kate does "Far From The Home I Love" as a real sort of borscht belt-y 11 o'clock number.

PC: How fabulous.

JL: Yeah, it's a real different sort of night with a lot of eclectic music - the night goes by really fast; it's about 90 minutes and you're laughing and tapping your toe the whole time. It's a lot of fun.

PC: Will you be taking SEE JANE SING around the country?

JL: Yes. It's not an organized tour, though - it's more a smattering of dates. We are going to be in New Jersey and Boston in April and then we are coming back to Joe's Pub in September. In between, we have dates here and there on the West Coast.

PC: Do the shows differ on the different coasts?

JL: Well, I actually have a quartet on the West Coast that I play with who are just amazing - they play with me when I am out here. So, yeah, we are kind of all over the place with SEE JANE SING.

PC: You were actually on tour for the season finale of GLEE. Did you get to attend the last cast party?

JL: I actually didn't get to attend the cast party because I was on tour, but I will say that the last three days of shooting were when we all got all our closure, actually - that was the big deal, at least for me. I was really glad I was there for that and I'll probably never forget it.

PC: Iconic SELFIE stick moment included! Was that a lot of fun?

JL: Yeah, yeah! Exactly.

PC: What are your personal thoughts on the SELFIE stick?

JL: Well, I know that in Disneyland they no longer allow them now because people were harming themselves on rides and stuff. But, to answer your question: it was an amazing moment to have everybody there; and everybody was in tears almost the whole time! You know, when you wrap an episode, they usually say, "That's an episode wrap for Jane Lynch," or whatever and everybody goes, "Yeah!" and then you go home - but, for this, it was a big deal because they said, "It's a series wrap for," and then they listed the names. Cue the tears!

PC: I bet!

JL: It was pretty, pretty amazing.

PC: What an ingenious Ryan Murphy flourish to end with a flashback and flash-forward two-parter. What was your initial reaction when you heard about that being the concept for the finale?

JL: Oh, I thought it was brilliant - just brilliant. I remember I read "2009" before I read the second half of it and we shot that episode months before the other one - at the time we did it, I didn't know that it was going to be the finale and I don't think that even they knew it was going to be the finale. But, yeah - I thought it was brilliant. I think these last few episodes will go down in history - I think they are just brilliant.

PC: This may have been your biggest season of all - Sue Sylvester was the central storyline in quite a few episodes.

JL: Yeah, I know! I was so happy about that - going out with some big episodes for Sue.

PC: Tell me about your OUTRAGEOUS 1980s outfits for "The Final Countdown" along with Matthew Morrison.

JL: Oh, it was a blast! I had so much fun doing that with Matt. We just had the best fun - I think it's the most fun I've ever had onset with Matt, actually. It was the best.

PC: The unexpected new pre-teen cast addition was quite amusing, as well - J.J. Totah.

JL: I know! He's amazing! He's like a 55-year-old in a 13-year-old's body - he's like Paul Lynde! [Laughs.]

PC: Sue always seemed to do the hottest new music artist every season - Nicki Minaj with "Super Bass", and, now, Ariana Grande with "Break Free". Are you a fan of hers?

JL: I don't know, to be perfectly honest. I am kind of off the pop music radar to be honest. [Laughs.]

PC: You have some movies coming out soon, too - AFTER THE REALITY we touched upon last time you did this column.

JL: Oh, that's right! That's coming out soon - it's Matt Morrison's movie. I have a very small part in it, but I am very looking forward to that.

PC: HOLLYWOOD GAME NIGHT keeps you on our small screens, as well.

JL: Oh, yes! And, we just did 10 new HOLLYWOOD GAME NIGHTS so those will come on in early Summer, too.

PC: Hopefully Golden Globe #2!

JL: Thank you! Hopefully.

PC: I have heard you have some particularly obsessive fans these days due to all your endeavors.

JL: Yes, I do - and I am lucky to have them. There is actually a Jane Lynch tote bag that I recently became aware of, as a matter of fact.

PC: Do you have any restrictions with fans?

JL: Oh, no - I'll sign whatever they want! [Laughs.]

PC: Lastly, if a TV event ala ANNIE LIVE! was attempted would you be open to appearing as Miss Hannigan?

JL: I don't know. I'd have to look at the whole picture first before I agreed to it, I think.

PC: FOX is doing GREASE LIVE!, you know - and there already is a character in it named Miss Lynch.

JL: That's true! It's funny you mention that, too, because one of my biggest fascinations is with Eve Arden - I just love her. She has had a big influence on me.

PC: Anything you are involved in is a must-see event! SEE JANE SING is a perfect opportunity for fans to catch you live doing what you do best. This was so sensational today, Jane. Thank you.

JL: Thank you so much, my friend. This was a pleasure as always. Have a wonderful Spring. Bye bye.

Photo Credits: FOX, etc.



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From This Author Pat Cerasaro

Pat Cerasaro contributes exclusive scholarly columns including InDepth InterViews, Sound Off, Theatrical Throwback Thursdays, Flash Friday and Flash Special as well as additional special features, (read more...)