On the scene at '30 Rock Live!'

Fey_lCall it a strike-com: On Nov. 19, over 200 wildly excited fans crammed into an underground improv theater in New York City to witness 30 Rock Live!, a benefit performance of NBC’s cult comedy. Getting into the show—staged to raise money for 30 Rock‘s production staff, who’ve been laid off due to the writers’ strike—proved nearly impossible, and star Tina Fey opened the evening by thanking those who had been lucky enough to score the $20 ticket. “If you paid more than that on Craig’s List, you are a sucker,” she told the crowd. “This is going to be on TV for free in a few weeks.”

All of the stars—including Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jack McBrayer, and Jane Krakowski (whose parents were in the audience)—were on hand to perform “Secrets and Lies,” a pre-strike episode set to air Dec. 6. While Fey asked the audience to keep plot details in-house (“Our show is kind of like Heroes,” she explained), what we can tell you is that “Secrets” involves the romance between Jack Donaghy (Baldwin) and Democratic congresswoman C.C. (the absent Edie Falco; her role was performed by SNL writer Paula Pell), GE’s “bros before ho’s policy,” and a popular Japanese street prank called the “shark attack.”

Confining 30 Rock‘s often frenetic, flashback-heavy comedy to a stage the size of walk-in closet is tricky, but the gang managed to make it work, thanks in part to director Don Scardino, who set the scene by reading stage directions from the script. When not reading their dialogue, the cast sat in chairs around the edge of the stage, holding their scripts and stifling giggles. If the pacing was a bit off, it’s only because Fey and company had to pause between each line, as the audience—which filled every available space including the aisles and the floor in front of the stage—howled with glee. Even the commercials, in the form of improvised bits by McBrayer and fellow castmate John Lutz, killed. (The duo’s basketball-themed spot for tampons had Baldwin laughing so hard he turned crimson.)

“It was really fun,” a relieved Fey told EW after the show. But the star hopes the upcoming negotiations between writers and producers will render 30 Rock Live! a one-night-only event. “It’s such a solvable issue and the two sides need to get back to the table and solve it. Not only would I prefer to be working, but I would really like our crew to be working.” Preferably, she added, in a theater that’s not packed to safety-hazard proportions: “I did the maternal thing to make a mental note of where my fire escape route was.”

addCredit(“Tina Fey: Anne Joyce”)

Comments (12 total) Add your comment
  • An Upright Citizen

    The UCB Theater in New York has terrific shows all the time!
    With “SNL” and “30 Rock Live” in the past few days, maybe this can give the theater some well-deserved attention (there’s one in L.A. too).
    Much love to Tina Fey and crew (and for EW’s postings).

  • stephen

    Does anyone know if 30 Rock’s ratings ar eup this year? I haven’t heard anything, but I’m hoping the emmy helped the show.

  • Dominique L.

    God, I would’ve killed to see that! I love 30 Rock and Tina Fey. It’s easily the best TV show on right now. Watch, people!

  • J from VA

    My favorite show on TV. I hate that I don’t live in NY and have to miss great events like this. Hopefully they recorded it and maybe it will end up as a DVD extra someday. “Live every week like its shark week”

  • donner

    When I first read that 30 Rock was gonna do a live version, I SERIOUSLY considered buying a ticket to NYC just to see it…so I’m glad to hear that most of the audience was family and friends and that I probably couldn’t have gotten a ticket anyway…I will miss this show during the strike, dear GOD let the strike end soon…

  • mark in nyc

    TO Donner: i live right near there and stopped by. There was a line as far as I could see.

  • donner

    Thanks Mark! I love NYC during the holidays, so my visit wouldn’t go to waste, but I’d be the one w/ my nose pushed up on the glass, arrested for stalking Alec Baldwin, trying my best to schmooze my way in…but failing miserably, I’m sure…sigh…

  • Nancy

    I too am hoping they taped it. I’d like to see it someday. I know I’ll see the ep on TV, but…Jack McBryer improvising, Alec Baldwin laughing until he turned crimson…I’m so there! I would love to see them put it on the internet, charge a fee to see it, and give the proceeds to their crew. Would make their point (money made on the internet? Really?), and would help those in need. They’d probably get sued if they did it, though.

  • Jeff Simmermon

    I was in the crowd, too and I have to concur – the show was fantastic. I got a bunch of photos and quotes, too. If you’re so inclined, they are posted here:


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