Jane Lynch is not one to overly plan out her life. When she began theater and comedy in Chicago in 1986, never did she imagine she'd be on television and movie screens years later. But her go-with-the-flow attitude has served her well, judging by her Golden Globe and Emmy for playing the hilariously villainous Sue Sylvester on "Glee." She's even worked with acting royalty Meryl Streep in "Julie & Julia."
"The world, universe, God, whatever you call it, has so much more in store if you just sit back and relax and do what's right in front of you," she said.
In store for Lynch now is her very own musical comedy tour "See Jane Sing," coming to Beverly Hills' Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on May 1. The show, cabaret in style, features her singing abilities and comedic wit that were on display in "Glee," without the villainy of her character.
"Of myself I am nothing," said Lynch, sitting in her Los Angeles home snacking on a low-calorie chocolate bar smeared in peanut butter. "Standing by myself, just having everybody looking at me the entire time, is not my idea of a good time."
She's joined onstage by longtime friend Kate Flannery of "The Office" and Tim Davis, who arranged the music on "Glee." The trio is backed by the Tony Guerrero Quintet.
"It's kind of a love fest," she said, smiling uncontrollably. "We adore each other, and I think that love for each other comes [across to the audience]."
The idea for "See Jane Sing" came after Lynch's Broadway debut in 2013 as the anti-maternal orphanage caretaker Miss Hannigan in "Annie." Offered four nights to perform an act at New York's 54 Below, she set herself a challenge to create something to meet the demand. The result was a brisk show full "of songs that have very little to do with one another except for the fact that I like them," she said.
Reviews were decidedly positive. "You'll definitely laugh heartily throughout the show," wrote Theater Mania's Zachary Stewart. "Lynch and Flannery are both very funny. Just don't expect to walk away with any new revelations about Lynch as a performer."
After the New York stint, she wanted to return to the world of theater. "Up until then, I had not had the hankering to do theater," she said. "I did it, and the bug bit me again."
Some of the songs Lynch and friends will be performing include numbers from jazz musician Dave Frishberg, Irving Berlin's "Mr. Monotony" and a rewritten take on "Go Ask Alice" from "The Brady Bunch." She and Flannery also perform "Far From the Home I Love" from "Fiddler on the Roof" in a style a la the Barry Sisters from the '40s.
The Beverly Hills audience might also be treated to a rap Lynch is working on of Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda." "Boy toy named Troy used to live in Detroit," she recited, contorting her lips to master the Minaj accent. She noted the difficulty she had performing the artist's "Super Bass" on "Glee."
As for the comedy bits, she declined to classify her style. "Once you start classifying and trying to identify your own comedy style, you've ceased to be funny," she said with a laugh. "The more I become comfortable in my own skin, I think the funnier I become."
But the true comedic surprise of the show is Flannery. "She's the goofball in the background that you sometimes can't help watching and laughing at," Lynch said.
Ultimately, she hopes audiences will be reminded of how music can lift spirits.
As far as other jobs, Lynch is keeping busy since the series end of "Glee" this year. In addition to filming pilots for new shows and television commercials, "Hollywood Game Night," of which she serves as host, returns in July. The NBC game show features two ordinary people and a group of celebrities each week as they gather for a party of outrageous games and quizzes on celebrities and popular culture.
Lynch would also like to one day put out a solo album. Though nothing is in the works, she's always wanted to record a live album or special in the style of a memorable video she used to have of the Police's Synchronicity Tour in Melbourne, Australia. "God, I loved watching that," she said. "I think it would be a real cool thing to do."
Until then, her singing chops are on display in "See Jane Sing." The tour also makes its way to San Francisco and Davis this spring.
'See Jane Sing'
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills
Cost: $39 to $89