Known for playing the iconic Sue Sylvester, a tyrannical cheer coach on Fox’s Glee (a character portrayal that won her numerous awards, including an Emmy, Golden Globe, and People’s Choice), as well as some star turns in Christopher Guest’s Best in Show and A Mighty Wind, Jane Lynch is back—this time, in her own show. And she’s kicking off her grand tour in Portland.
“I’m a big fan of Portland,” she says, calling out Powell’s—“I adore that big bookstore”—and the Newmark Theatre. “It’s gorgeous and it hasn’t been modernized. It has this beautiful, old theatre feel and I love that.”
So what prompted the time-out from our TV screens? After taking a nearly 30-year break from the theater, Lynch was offered the role of another infamous mean girl, Miss Hannigan in Broadway’s 2012 production of Annie. “I thought that I was done with theater and I didn’t have the hankering to do it, but I got the bug again and then you couldn’t keep me off the stage,” she says.
Then Feinstein's/54 Below, a cabaret space in New York, proposed giving Lynch four nights to do something original. She jumped at the chance, but there was a problem. “I did not have an act,” Lynch laughs. “So I went back to LA and hiked Nichols Canyon for two months and came up with a show.” See Jane Sing was born.
Joining her are longtime colleague and friend Kate Flannery, who played Meredith in NBC’s The Office, Tim Davis, who arranged the music in Glee, and the Tony Guerrero Quintet. Together, they’ll be veering into jazz, show tunes, rap, and original songs for a cabaret show with Lynch front and center. “We go from Irving Berlin to Nicki Minaj, all the way back to a medley of songs that made us cry when we were kids,” says Lynch. “And yeah, we’re rapping 'Anaconda' and it’s going to hit you straight between the eyes.”
Get ready for a show that is intentionally unintentional, a kind of laughter-inducing controlled chaos. “I realized that the songs that I was picking had no theme,” Lynch admits.” So I say in the beginning, ‘Join me on a musical journey through a world of songs that have very little to do with one another.’”
Lynch is keen to make clear that although her musical picks are personally inspired and come with her introductory explanations about why they were included, See Jane Sing is definitively not any kind of self-focused, personal expose. “It’s going to be one of those nights where you’re laughing a lot and tapping your toes and a good time will be had by all.” Lynch pauses. “Will it all tie together beautifully? No, not gonna happen. But! You’re going to have a really good time.”
What’s in store? A chance to see Lynch belting out Irving Berlin while Flannery is “stealing focus by being inappropriately sexual with the audience.”
Sue Sylvester, eat your heart out.
See Jane Sing is at the Newmark Theatre on Wednesday, June 1.