Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Top Dollar! Although She's Best Known as Elaine, the Manhungry Secretary in Ally McBeal, Jane Krakowski Has Had a Prestigious Career in Musical Theatre. Sheryl Garratt Meets Her as She Makes Her West End Debut Opposite Ewan McGregor inGuys and Dolls

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Top Dollar! Although She's Best Known as Elaine, the Manhungry Secretary in Ally McBeal, Jane Krakowski Has Had a Prestigious Career in Musical Theatre. Sheryl Garratt Meets Her as She Makes Her West End Debut Opposite Ewan McGregor inGuys and Dolls

Article excerpt

Byline: SHERYL GARRATT

Jane Krakowski loves her job. Right now she's rehearsing for her London stage debut in Guys And Dolls, which means she gets a kiss every morning from fellow cast member Ewan McGregor. 'Only the cheek,' she says in mock regret, indicating with a finger how chaste the greeting is. In her last big job, the Broadway musical Nine, she got to have nightly phone sex with Antonio Banderas. And, within minutes of meeting Jude Law on the set of Alfie, she was stripped down to Agent Provocateur undies and grinding on top of him in a limo for the next 12 hours. 'And I'm getting paid for it, that's the real kicker,' she laughs. 'Because I'd do it all for free.'

She may not have been seen in the West End before, but the 36-year-old, New Jersey-born actress has had a long career in musical theatre, making her Broadway debut fresh out of high school with Starlight Express. The director was Trevor Nunn - not a bad start. She agrees, before adding wryly: 'But I had to be a train.

On roller skates.'

Since then she's featured in shows such as Grand Hotel and Company, winning a Tony Award for her performance in Nine, where she was lowered from the ceiling on a bedsheet and, after doing her number with Banderas, wrapped herself back in the sheet to be hoisted off feet first - while still singing.

'It's actually easier to sing upside-down,' she says. 'That's one of the things you learn when asked to do something like that.'

It was hardly an original idea - she was taught by people from Cirque du Soleil - but it had never been done on stage before, and subsequently both Beyonce and Mariah Carey borrowed the idea for their live shows.

But none of this is why you know Krakowski.

If her face seems familiar, it's because for five years she played the bossy, brassy, manhungry secretary Elaine Vassal in Ally McBeal. 'More people saw Ally in one night than could possibly see every show of every stage production I've ever been in,' she shrugs. 'Although you can't actually think about it in those terms. As Elaine, I got quite bold, I'd do anything on camera.

But if I'd ever thought how many millions of homes it was going into, I don't know that I would have.'

Ally lives on in that endless halflife of repeats, but Krakowski was glad to leave the curly perm and the heavy makeup behind. She still finds it embarrassing when she's surfing channels and suddenly sees herself. In a show that sold itself on style, Elaine's dress sense was deliberately tacky, to make it clear that she was in a different class to the glossy lawyers around her. 'That was great to help the character along, but it's unfortunate when people think it's really you,' she grimaces.

Perhaps the biggest surprise when meeting Krakowski in the flesh is just how slender she is.

In a show where most of the female leads were notorious for being skeletally thin, she looked voluptuously curvy. …

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