Actress, singer, trumpet player, director, producer and consummate artist is what you get when you see Jana Robbins. Jana’s career started when she was 20 and saw her first show in a bubble tent down in Washington Square Park – Man Of La Mancha – and got the job of Aldonza one year later – her first role at 21. Her first show on Broadway was Good News starring John Payne and Alice Faye. I Love My Wife, Crimes of The Heart, Romance/Romance, Gypsy and The Tale of The Allergist’s Wife followed.
Jana has also starred off Broadway, across the country in repertory and regional theaters, in a wide range of roles in both musicals and straight plays.
On television Jana guest-starred on an Emmy Award-winning episode of “Cheers”, and filmed her first pilot for CBS that same year. TV appearances include guest starring roles on “Bless This House,” “The Home Court,” “JAG,” “Roseanne,” a stint on “General Hospital” as Sheila Houston, and as Ambassador Tal on “Babylon 5”, “Law and Order: SVU”, “Criminal Intent”, “Law and Order,“ “Nurse Jackie” and “The Good Wife”.
In feature films she is highly featured in ”The Women”.
As a producer she is Tony and Drama Desk nominated for Ragtime. In 1995 she founded Better World Productions in order to “present theater and film entertainment that inspires us to create a Better World”. Jana made her Broadway producing debut with Allan Knee’s Little Women and her Off-Broadway producing debut with I Love You Because, and Daniel Beaty’s Through the Night with producer Daryl Roth earning her a second Drama Desk nomination.
Now Jana is starring in This One’s For The Girls. T2C had a chance to talk to Jana before opening night.
T2C: How did you get involved with This One’s For The Girls?
Jana Robbins: I decided to do my own show Jana Robbins “ I’M STILL HERE!” because for the past 14 years I’ve been producing more on Broadway than performing on Broadway and performing is still in my soul. I gave myself the present of performing again by doing this show. I did it at Don’t Tell Mama’s and several times at Feinstein’s/ 54 Below including for a major birthday celebration. I sent an invitation to my birthday show to Bill Franzblau who happens to be the lead producer for This One’s ForThe Girls, as well as a fellow Broadway producer, who I recently saw at a Theatre Resources Unlimited event. This One’s For The Girls was written by and tells the story of Dorothy Marcic and had been performed by Dorothy. She was the narrator, but she didn’t sing. The other three girls did all the singing. They were going to do a workshop to develop and expand the role of the narrator and Bill called me. When I got into rehearsal I realized just how special this show was. It was not only highly entertaining, but it was an important show for women and it reflected my life. I am a baby boomer and I went to all those consciousness-raising groups and it helped make me become a Broadway producer, so it feels as if it is the story of my life as well.
T2C: What is the song track of your life?
Jana Robbins: I Enjoy Being a Girl; I’m the Greatest Star: There’s No Business Like Show Business; Everything I Have Is Yours; My Heart Belongs to Daddy; My Mother Was a Singer; Astonishing and It Started With A Dream.
T2C: Your mother is up there in pictures in the show. What does that mean to you?
Jana Robbins: It means everything to me. My mother is 95 years old and supported me and my dream of being in the theatre, since she sent me to the Gene Kelly Dance Studio when I was four. In fact my mother came to see the workshop of This One’s For The Girls with her aide Tracy and they both loved this show, which made me want to do it all the more. I hoped that my 95 year old mother would still be here to see me in it when it opened. So this is another dream come true.
T2C: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Jana Robbins: To hold on to a sense of self and power that is within, instead of believing that other people had the power over me and held the key to my destiny, which indeed is one of the points that This One’s For The Girls makes.
T2C: You are being honored with a TRU award. Were you surprised at that?
Jana Robbins: One is always surprised when they receive such acknowledgment from someone else and especially or an organization. It brings tears to my eyes to know that the things I worked so hard to accomplish are appreciated and being acknowledged by my peers.
T2C: You are also a producer. What do you have in the works?
Jana Robbins: We just did the World Premiere of D. Tucker Smith’s Roof of The World at Kansas City Rep. The Jazz Age by Alan Knee will have a London production next spring, and The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit by Andre Catrini and Alan Knee is moving forward after a successful Off-Off Broadway run at The Workshop Theater. I am also a producer Marianne Elliott’s (War Horse, Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) current show in London, Heisenberg.
T2C: You are also a director. What are you doing now?
Jana Robbins: Last night was the opening night of Andrew Kooman’s She Has a Name, an important piece about sex trafficking presented by Ripple Effect Artists. I have been mentoring this theatre group founded by Jessie Fahay, who I met through TRU for several years now.
T2C: Are their other acting or cabaret projects we should know of that you are involved in?
Jana Robbins: Right now I am extremely busy with This One’s For The Girls, which I predict will run for a very long time, as well as producing and directing, but I’m looking forward to other acting jobs and putting together a new Cabaret show in the near future.
T2C: What means the most to you at this stage in your life?
Jana Robbins: My family and my friends.
T2C: What would you like our audience to know about you?
That the love of theatre is my passion and that passion has filled my life with a happiness that I hope I’ve been able to bestow on others.
This One’s For The Girls opens tonight at St. Luke’s Theatre, 308 West 46th Street.