She’s best known as the happily self-involved Jenna Maroney on the recently deceased sitcom “30 Rock,” but Jane Krakowski is hardly the amusing loon she portrayed for seven seasons.
Her career began on TV (“Search for Tomorrow,” 1984), where she became a viable name pre-“30 Rock” (hello, Elaine Vassal on “Ally McBeal”) and then scored her three Primetime Emmy nominations (we really do love you, Jenna),
Yet Krakowski has always been a theater girl with a golden voice.
In 2003, she nabbed a best featured actress Tony Award for her portrayal of Carla in “Nine” — a pleasant hurrah after a 1990 nomination for her role in “Grand Hotel” — and on Saturday, she will make her first trip to Atlanta and bring her Broadway chops to the Alliance Theatre for the fifth annual “A Tony Evening” benefit.
“I’m glad to be there to help them raise as much money as they can because that theater does such good work for the arts,” Krakowski said recently from her home in New York.
While this is her maiden appearance at the Alliance, her musical director, Michael Kosarin, handled music supervision for “Sister Act” when it played the theater in 2007.
Kosarin will be with Krakowski this weekend — part of her “four men” who join her onstage — in what she describes as a “hybrid show,” with selections coming from her 2010 live cabaret album, “Laziest Gal in Town,” and other show tunes.
“I think people like to come for a little escapism, but because this theater has such a Broadway-rich involvement, we’ll probably do a few more Broadway songs. Coming with my band makes it more of a show for everybody — it’s more of a shared evening. When I first started being asked to do cabaret or performing arts venues, I was sort of nervous being in smaller theaters because people are spending 90 minutes with you,” Krakowski said, then laughed. “So my first attempt at this was at Lincoln Center and my second was at the Kennedy Center!”
Someone who has no doubts about Krakowski’s live-performance prowess is Susan V. Booth, artistic director of the Alliance.
“I love the fact that people are always surprised that these TV and film stars have these amazing theater chops, but by and large, that’s where people start,” Booth said. “This is a Tony gal we’re talking about. I love that we’ll have someone (anchoring the event) that has such serious, deep Broadway skills.”
Some of the past hosts of “A Tony Evening,” which raises money for the theater’s programs for youths and families, are equally luminous, such as Alan Cumming and Elaine Stritch.
Now that Krakowski, 44, has said goodbye to the whip-smart sitcom helmed by Tina Fey, who Krakowski says was aware of her Broadway credentials and “wanted to send up Jenna’s version of that career” (“Rural Juror,” anyone?), she plans to return to theater and continue touring with her show when time allows a break from mommyhood. (She and husband Robert Godley have a 2-year-old son, Bennett.)
Earlier this year, Krakowski performed at New York’s The Town Hall and, as often happens, was pelted with requests for Jenna songs (“Muffin Top,” “Tennis Night”). So, with “30 Rock” nearing its end, she said to Kosarin, “If we’re ever going to do a medley of Jenna songs … .”
We can only hope for a round two.
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