Jane Krakowski shared a lot of laughs with Tina Fey on the TV series "30 Rock." Now, Krakowski is on Broadway, and finding time to chat with our Rita Braver:
She sings and dances, she can make you laugh, she even roller skates.
"I don't think I do anything that well, but I do a little bit of everything!" Jane Krakowski laughed.
Don't let her fool you! Krakowski has been earning rave reviews as Ilona Ritter, the slightly shop-worn, and very love-lorn perfume store worker, in a revival of the 1963 Broadway show, "She Loves Me."
"She's kind of tough and sweet at the same time," said Braver.
"Yes. She's smart, but she doesn't always make smart choices all the time," Krakowski said. "I've come to adore her."
And why not? She's got a show-stopping dance.
"You know, me leaping in the air, and to a split onto the ground and being dragged across the entire stage, because you just don't expect, I guess, me at this time in my life to be doing that still!"
At 47, Krakowski seems to be at a very fine time in her life. She's also featured in a hot Netflix series, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt."
It's Krakowski's second project with Tina Fey, after six seasons on "30 Rock."
"They needed a girl that was blonde in hair color and spirit," she laughed, "and they needed her to be the opposite of Tina Fey. So they hired me. I walked in and they said, 'You're it!'"
And she's STILL it! On the day Braver caught up with her, Krakowski had just earned a Tony nomination for her role in "She Loves Me."
She described the call that came in as "a relief! I'm slightly still flabbergasted by it, and it's such a joy."
The Broadway stage is just a few miles away, but a world away, from where it all began: The Barn Theatre in suburban New Jersey, near Krakowski's hometown of Parsippany. "This is so crazy -- it looks exactly the same!" she exclaimed.
By day her dad was a chemical engineer, her Mom a teacher. By night they were there on stage.
"And instead of getting babysitters, my parents would take me to the theater when they were rehearsing for their plays or putting on the shows," Krakowski said.
She says she was about three or four when she first appeared on stage. "I was a non-billed Cratchit child, I think, in 'A Christmas Carol.' And I worked my way up to Tiny Tim!"
Barbara Krajkowski (who was a Kit Kat Club Girl in "Cabaret") says her daughter was a born performer.
When Braver asked if she ever dreamed Jane would be as successful as she is, Barbara replied, "I had faith that she was gonna work, but I never dreamed like this. You just burst with pride. You say, 'Oh my goodness!'"
And oh, my goodness, Mom was on set when Jane -- then 14 -- filmed a now-famous line in "National Lampoon's Vacation":
Cousin Vicki (Krakowski): "I'm going steady, and I French kiss."
Audrey Griswold (Dana Barron): "So? Everybody does that."
Cousin Vicki: "Yeah, but Daddy says I'm the best at it."
"Oh, please, they had to glue my mouth shut, the laughing!" Krakowski's mom recalled.
Jane prides herself on her Jersey moxie, and she can lure a reluctant reporter onto the New Jersey rink where she skated as a teen. "And now we spin!"
While still in high school, she glided onto Broadway in the part of a train car in Andrew Lloyd Webber's all-skating musical, "Starlight Express."
"My name is Dinah, and I'm your dining car!"
But America really noticed Jane Krakowski in 1997 when she played office assistant Elaine in the cutting-edge dramedy, "Ally McBeal."
"Elaine was slightly slutty," Braver said.
"I don't know WHAT you're talking about!" Krakowski laughed.
Her invention of the "face bra" was one of the series' memorable gags. It's another of her scene-stealing, but not lead parts.
"I call them second bananas," she laughed. "I'm always the second banana."
But her second banana role in "She Loves Me" has special meaning for Krakowski. In her dressing room she keeps a decades-old photo of her dad performing as Kodaly in the same show.
"My father is not well right now, and I thought this would be the last, probably, show he might possibly see me in," she said. "And so, this is a tribute to my dad. A lot of people don't know that that's one of the reasons I took this show."
Though her father, suffering from Alzheimer's, has not been able to attend, Krakowski's five-year-old son Bennett (with former fiancé clothing designer Robert Godley) has seen Mom on stage. And while she says being a mother is her very favorite role, Jane Krakowski's career gives her plenty to sing about.
Braver said, "It must be kind of fun to know that more and more people know who Jane Krakowski is, and will give a production a chance, just 'cause you're in it."
"That would be cool!" Krakowski laughed. "That would be good. Let's do that!"
Jane Krakowski performing " A Trip to the Library" from "She Loves Me":
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