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Jane Lynch visits ISU as Guest Artist in Residency

Written by on April 18, 2023

NORMAL, Ill. – Illinois State University alum and Emmy-winning actress Jane Lynch returned to the university on Tuesday. She was welcomed as a guest artist in residence.

Lynch is spending her time at ISU gaining director experience, leading several senior dance and theatre students through Neil Simon’s play “Lost in Yonkers.” The play takes place in 1942 Brooklyn, following two brothers living with their estranged grandmother after the death of their mother.

Lynch graduated from ISU in 1982, going on to attend Cornell University. Her career has seen her on both screen and stage, most recently on stage in the Broadway revival of “Funny Girl.” Her most famous role was Sue Sylvester on the set of “Glee”, which ran from 2009 to 2015

When asked about her feelings about not only working with former teachers like Al Goldfarb but returning to campus in general, Lynch expressed deep excitement.

“I’m thrilled to be back here. I got my training here, I learned how to be an actor here. I learned how to think like an actor here. I learned how to be a part of a group,” Lynch said. “And I worked with some amazing teachers, and that tradition continues. And I was so thrilled after our first rehearsal last night. It’s going to be a ball.”

Lynch spoke fondly of her time at ISU as well. She reminisced about her times in room 301 of Centennial West on campus and doing musicals with classmates just for fun.

She also spoke about other parts of her career, including her love of game shows and other tv roles. Lynch recently helped revive the comedy-sitcom “Party Down,” and she hosted the new season of “Weakest Link”, which premiered Tuesday, April 11.

When asked about lesser-known roles, however, Lynch spoke on how those felt at the time and the lessons they taught her.

“Playing Julia Child’s sister with Meryl Streep, Norah Ephron asked me to do that, and that was enough to make a person dissolve onto a small puddle on the floor if you really think about it,” Lynch said. “I liked how I stepped up and didn’t let myself get scared and was brave enough to make these really huge choices…If Meryl was at this pitch, I met her.”

Lynch is working on her guest residency for the next three weeks, which will conclude on May 5. When she is not directing students, she will drop in on theatre and dance classes and look through the university archives.