Jane Lynch is, perhaps, best known for her role as the mouthy coach Sue Sylvester on the television show Glee. Now she is going live - performing a new show that, so far, has only been heard once.
90.5 WESA’s Deanna Garcia recently spoke with the actress about her performance of “The Great American Songbook* (*plus one Guatemalan love song).” The one-night show opens at 8 p.m. Friday, July 7 at Heinz Hall.
Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
JANE LYNCH: The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, I will be singing with that wonderful group of musicians on July 7th, which is a Friday. It's a symphony show that just premiered in St. Louis last weekend. It went swimmingly, and we can't wait to go to Pittsburgh.
I put it together with my friend Brad Ellis, who was Brad the piano player on Glee. This is the first time I've ever seen sung with a symphony. You'll be seeing my second effort. And [St. Louis] was just so much fun. It was mind blowing how gorgeous the orchestra was there, and I know that the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is world-renowned and I'm sure there will be symphony lovers there as well.
Maybe Glee fans, and I hope that when the Glee fans walk away from this that they'll be inspired to come back and revisit the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and support the arts.
DEANNA GARCIA: How did this come about?
LYNCH: I was doing a cabaret show, and continue to do it actually... We traveled all over the country, myself and a quintet and Kate Flannery, who was the drunk on The Office. And then I just got the idea. Also, I do everything that Matt Morrison does. He sets the tone for me. He started doing symphony shows, and he said you should do it. Brad and I got together, and we got two gigs. We got that St. Louis gig, and we've got the Pittsburgh gig, and hopefully that will mean more coming.
GARCIA: What can we expect when we when we hear American Songbook?
LYNCH: When I wrote that title, it was because I didn't want to paint myself in any one corner, so I thought America would be a safe way to go. But I will be honest and say there are two Canadian songs.
The music that pushed itself first and foremost in my mind was the stuff I learned from my dad, who was a big music lover and especially loved the music of his day. Like the 40s, 50s, into the early 60s. So I started out with a Nat King Cole song, and then we go to some Roger Miller. We're doing a little Alan Sherman, who was a humorist in the 60s.
Then I go into some of my favorite stuff like Cole Porter and Tom Adair and the stuff that Chet Baker and Ella Fitzgerald made popular; we do a whole medley of those beautiful songs. I do a little James Brown. I'm all over the place.
GARCIA: You're known for acting. When did you start singing, or have you always sang?
LYNCH: I've always loved singing. It was never first and foremost in terms of what I was doing as a job, but when I was touring with the Second City, I always found a way to put a song in. We always had songs, and anytime I did sketch comedy with my friends out here in L.A., I would find a way to do a song. That's kind of what happened in The 40 Year Old Virgin. I always find a way to put a song into everything.
*In the movie 40 Year Old Virgin, Lynch has an inappropriate conversation with main character Andy (Steve Carrell) and refers to a Guatemalan love song. This is the song she will be performing. It's mostly "nonsense," according to Lynch (who wrote it), and she'll sing the song and translation verse.
GARCIA: What do you like best about performing live?
LYNCH: The audience. Until you have the audience out there your show is not really a show. Brad and I can rehearse in the rehearsal room as much as we want. You still never know what it will be until you add that 50 percent of the experience, which is the audience.
The show really isn't different. I mean, you can do the same thing, but the energy is always so different. And it's always so spiriting and good for the heart. There's thousands of them out there and only one of me up there and of course that wonderful orchestra behind me. It feels really intimate.
GARCIA: My final and probably most important question is something I like to ask people who are dog people and knowing that you also sing, do you sing to your dogs?
LYNCH: Oh my god yes. All day long. They all have songs.
Below: hear Jane Lynch give a sampling of songs she sings to her dogs.