By Keith Roach
The Glee alumna sings and jokes her way through four shows at The Cabaret starting June 19.
Most people know you from comedy. What can the audience expect from this musical show?
Like I say in the beginning, "Join me for a musical journey in a world of songs that have very little to do with one another." There's really no theme except this is music the other performers and I love. We go from Irving Berlin to '80s pop songs to Nicki Minaj.
Who's on stage with you?
The Tony Guerrero Quintet will be with me, and Kate Flannery, who plays Meredith the drunk in The Office. We've been singing together for decades. Tim Davis, who was the vocal music director on Glee, is a wonderful crooner, and he rounds out our little trio.
Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy grew up in Indy. What's he like to work with?
He's one of the most creative people I've ever met. He's a guy who can look at the big picture and also get deep, deep, deep into the details. I also have a niece and a nephew who went to IU, so I have a lot of Indiana connections.
And you started your career in Chicago before moving to Los Angeles, right? What's it like to come back to the Midwest?
Oh, I love it. I go to Chicago a lot—my family lives there. I feel like it's just another city that I live in, and that I have to get on a plane to get there.
Which of your acting performances do you think is underappreciated?
There's a cult appreciation for Party Down [about struggling actors and writers working as caterers in Los Angeles], which was one of the most joyful experiences of my life. That was when Starz was just starting to produce its own content, so we were basically on our own. We just did 10 episodes in a vacuum. And then they came out, enough people ended up loving them, and they did a second season. It's kind of a cult hit.
You host Hollywood Game Night on NBC, which portrays celebrities playing games at a house. What are your real personal house parties like?
I'm very low key. I don't go out much, but I do like hosting. My house is very indoor-outdoor. I live in a canyon, and it's beautiful here. You can't hear any traffic. There's a protected trust right behind my house, which means that no one can build, so it's all virgin canyon. It's just a really idyllic place to bring people.
As one of Christopher Guest's regular cast members, you're in his upcoming film, Mascots, about a mascot competition. What role do you play?
My character was a moose mascot for a junior college baseball team who had a devastating injury about 10 years ago holding the splits too long. And so my character has been out of commission, but she's one of the judges, so she exerts her power—and frustration—that way.
Please tell me that when Glee ended, you got to keep one of Sue Sylvester's tracksuits.
I had, like, four of them. I've given a couple away for charity things. And now I think the demand for them is probably gone, so yes, I'm stuck with two Sue Sylvester tracksuits in my closet.
What's the most important thing you've learned about comedy?
So much of it is confidence. So much is about getting out of your way in terms of your ego and judging yourself. When I was doing theater, I used to go back in my mind and look at where I got laughs that evening and where I didn't, and then either get upset with myself or celebrate something. You've just got to enjoy yourself. I think it's about the ability to be in the moment.
After success in comedy, acting, and music, do you have any creative itches you still want to scratch?
Not at all. When the itches come up, I scratch 'em.
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