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A cabaret- inspired New Year’s

(Fernando Leon/Getty Images)
By Christopher Muther
Globe Staff / December 31, 2011
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WHO Ana Gasteyer

WHAT The former “Saturday Night Live’’ cast member, who recently became a series regular on the ABC sitcom “Suburgatory,’’ turned her attention to musical theater after leaving “SNL’’ in 2002. Her Broadway credits include Elphaba in “Wicked’’ and Mrs. Peachum in Scott Elliott’s revival of “The Threepenny Opera.’’ Tonight and tomorrow, Gasteyer performs a variation of her cabaret show, “Elegant Songs From a Handsome Woman,’’ as part of the Broadway at the Art House series in Provincetown. Tickets: $50-$75. Information: 508-487-9222, www.ptownarthouse.com.

Q. How did you wind up performing in Provincetown on New Year’s Eve?

A. [Sirius XM satellite radio host] Seth Rudetsky has this wonderful series at the Art House, and he tried to get me there last summer. But my “Suburgatory’’ shooting schedule conflicted, so I had to cancel. I actually love doing New Year’s Eve shows because it’s a great way to celebrate without sitting on a bar stool.

My show is really celebratory. The whole idea is a fun evening in somebody’s living room. And New Year’s Eve seems perfectly fitting for that. As a performer with lots of different hats, cabaret is a really fun opportunity for me to be a little more personal and a little more upbeat.

Q. Did you have proper musical training before “Saturday Night Live’’?

A. I was a voice major at Northwestern. I started in the opera department, which is so funny to me now. But Chicago is such a big improvisational comedy town that I got pulled in a completely different path and switched over to the theater department. After I left “Saturday Night Live,’’ I went back and started studying music in earnest again. I ended up doing “Wicked.’’ But the music and the comedy worlds don’t really cross over much. Cabaret is a fun way to bring them together.

Q. Were you surprised that after venturing back into music and theater, you’re back on TV?

A. It’s not like it’s one thing or the other for me. I make my living as an actress. I love comic acting. When you’re doing Broadway, it’s very hard to do movies and television because the time commitment is so long and comprehensive. It wasn’t a contentious move away from television as much as it was a desire to improve myself vocally and dive into the world of the New York theater. I love the stage and I wanted to learn about stage acting. It’s a very different process. It makes you a very different kind of actor than television does.

Q. Have you been to Provincetown before?

A. I’ve never been, and I’m really looking forward to this. It’s one of the reasons why I want to go. I’ve only been as far as Wellfleet. Obviously as a girl diva, it’s one of the destinations I’ve always aspired to.

Q. If you’re performing in Provincetown, I can only assume that you enjoy the company of gay men. Meaning you’re a fruit fly. That’s the politically correct term these days.

A. Is that right? That’s very funny.

Q. It takes the word “hag’’ out of the equation. Do you qualify as a fly?

A. I don’t think there’s any question whatsoever. I was in “Wicked,’’ after all. I think it was unavoidable when I did the “Martha Stewart’s Topless Christmas Special’’ on “SNL.’’ Probably impersonating Celine Dion cemented it.

Q. Speaking of “Saturday Night Live’’ characters, I can only assume and hope that you’re doing Bobbie Moughan-Culp in your Provincetown show?

A. I don’t do characters in my show at all. It’s very much the world of Ana Gasteyer. So it’s me, but it’s party-girl me. It’s me trying to class myself up a little bit and not try to embarrass myself. However, occasionally holding a Manhattan leads to slipping down a slippery slope.

Q. Are you performing songs from shows that you’ve been in?

A. I always try to include a little bit of my own personal history and some show tunes that we all know and love. I do the American songbook. But it’s the unfamiliar side of the American songbook. And I’m super-attracted to what I guess are called novelty songs. But they’re mostly songs that I steal from my daughter’s first- and second-grade chorus. The guy who picks their songs is really good.

CHRISTOPHER MUTHER

Interview has been condensed and edited. Christopher Muther can be reached at muther@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther

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WHO
Ana Gasteyer
WHAT
The former “Saturday Night Live’’ cast member, who recently became a series regular on the ABC sitcom “Suburgatory,’’ turned her attention to musical theater after leaving “SNL’’ in 2002. Her Broadway credits include Elphaba in “Wicked’’ and Mrs. Peachum in Scott Elliott’s revival of “The Threepenny Opera.’’ Tonight and tomorrow, Gasteyer performs a variation of her cabaret show, “Elegant Songs From a Handsome Woman,’’ as part of the Broadway at the Art House series in Provincetown. Tickets: $50-$75. Information: 508-487-9222, www.ptownarthouse.com.