It’s getting harder and harder to label Jane Lynch. In the 10 years since originating the role of ruthless coach Sue Sylvester in “Glee,” the Emmy-winning actress has hosted the game show “Hollywood Game Night,” written the bestselling memoir “Happy Accidents,” made her Broadway debut as Miss Hannigan in “Annie” and caused all kinds of headaches for the attorneys on “The Good Fight” as a crafty federal investigator.
But it’s her job as cabaret singer that brings her back to the Twin Cities on Friday for “Two Lost Souls,” which she co-headlines with Kate Flannery from “The Office.”
Lynch, 59, chatted by phone recently about her favorite 21st-century recording artist, what to expect from her Borscht Belt comic character Sophie Lennon on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and how she feels about a “Glee” reunion.
Q: For those who haven’t seen your stage show, what can they expect?
A: It’s a real throwback. One of the first songs Kate pitched was “Two Lost Souls” from “Damn Yankees.” I said, “Not only are we going to use it, that’s what we’re going to call the show.” Both of us are into the same prewar, postwar music, the stuff our parents loved.
Q: Are you concerned at all that today’s young generation isn’t as familiar with their parents’ music as you are?
A: I think that’s an old-person worry. I never thought I would have it. “Oh, the kids today don’t even know who Clark Gable is.” Those younger people who come to our show, even those in their late 20s and 30s, get an exposure to music they wouldn’t normally hear and they love it. I have one niece who got turned on to Judy Garland because she heard us do “The Trolley Song.”
Q: So how do you sell the show to young people who are not your relatives?
A: I don’t know if you sell it to them, but you do your best to get them to the show, which is probably a difficult thing to do. The melodies and lyrics are so clever and witty. There’s a certain optimism to these songs with everyone kicking up their heels. We don’t get too deep. Well, Kate does when she performs “Nobody’s Heart (Belongs to Me).” That brings the house down.
Q: In a way, “Glee” did as much as anything in pop culture to introduce old songs to a new generation.
A: The best thing about Ryan Murphy [the show’s co-creator] is that he loves all kinds of music. We did songs from musicals like “Singin’ in the Rain.” Matthew Morrison and I did “Cheek to Cheek.” You hope that some of them liked it enough to discover the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers version. But I also learned a lot about their music, like about Katy Perry.
Q: A lot of old TV favorites are coming back these days. What are your thoughts on a “Glee” reunion?
A: I don’t think we should reunite. I mean, we did it already. I’d reboot it in a different school with different kids. That would be an amazing thing. It was such a strong formula and really had an impact. McKinley High School was a metaphor for a world where kids were safe and everyone had their back and made a joyful noise. That’s why kids were drawn to it so much.
Q: Which of today’s popular artists do you think will resonate 50 years from now?
A: I love everything that Adele touches. I think she’s a true artist. We’ve been doing Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” in our show. What’s better than seeing two Irish white girls do that?
Q: I also noticed that during your Christmas concerts you were covering Michael Jackson’s “Ben.” In light of the new documentary, “ Leaving Neverland,” any trepidation about continuing to include that?
A: Oh, that was part of a medley of songs that make us cry. We’re not doing it currently, but would we? Let me think about that. I think we’d keep it in. He was such a little boy when he recorded it. I’m not even sure people associate him with that song.
Q: You’ve been playing a different kind of old-school performer on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” but you only appeared in a couple of episodes last season. Is your Sophie Lennon character back next season?
A: Yes, yes, yes. I think she’s in every episode next season. They’re really fleshing her out. We just had our first table read yesterday. The scripts are so complete. The writers really know how to capture that period.
Q: You recorded a Christmas song last year with Dick Van Dyke. What was that like?
A: “We’re Going Caroling.” Tony Guerrero wrote it. It sounds like it was written back in the late ’50s or early ’60s, very much of that period. Dick is old school. He’s always humming, always doing a little dance. He’s so happy to be alive that he literally skips. That was a joyful experience.
Q: And how much longer do you think you’ll get a kick from doing the cabaret show?
A: This is something we could do well into our 90s. They’ll be rolling us out on our Medicare carts.