'30 Rock' Star Jane Krakowski on Her Broadway Comeback in 'She Loves Me'
The last time that Jane Krakowski was on Broadway, for the musical Nine, she dangled upside down from the ceiling, got frisky with Antonio Banderas and won a best featured actress Tony Award in 2003. And that's after making her Broadway debut as a roller-skating railcar in Starlight Express in 1987. Now, after seven seasons of 30 Rock (and one on Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), the 47-year-old is co-starring with Zachary Levi and Laura Benanti in the 1963 musical She Loves Me, opening March 17 at Studio 54, as the gullible-in-love Ilona -- a role that looks to be acrobatics-free.
Your Broadway résumé includes hanging from rafters and rolling on skates. What do you have in store this time?
I've been teased all through rehearsal! Somebody has a number where they have boxes and they're like, "Jane's going to come popping out of them." Later, there's a balcony scene and they're like, "Jane's going to come flying from the ceiling." We've grown the song "Ilona" into more of a dance number than it normally is, but we are staying very true to [Ilona] being a clerk in a parfumerie in 1934 -- so I don't think there will be any death-defying feats this time.
The two main characters in She Loves Me go from loathing to loving each other. Has anything like that ever happened to you in real life?
I've had it the opposite way. (Laughs.) Unfortunately, mine ended in the loathing. That's why I like musicals. They end up happy.
What kept you away from Broadway for so long -- and what brought you back?
It was just because 30 Rock ran for so many seasons. Now that I'm on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, because we only do 13 episodes, my time filming is equal to my time off. I love the heightened reality that musicals live on -- the escapism that you get when you can burst into song at any moment.
Your Broadway debut was in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Starlight Express, nearly 30 years ago. What do you remember about that experience?
I was still in high school when I got cast. It was as dangerous as legend has it. People fell from bridges and broke their knees and didn't return to the show. But it was a great show to make your Broadway debut in, because it really taught you the rigors and the discipline of eight shows a week. And I still bring out the skates today!
This story originally appeared in the March 12 issue of Billboard.