’30 Rock’: Twitter Discovers Hilariously Meta Joke About Jenna Maroney That Many Fans Never Noticed
In December, a Broadway musical aficionado took to Twitter to explain something to all of us. Cats, though currently the focus of much attention, horror, and satire (because of the release of the 2019 film), is not even composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s strangest musical work. Lloyd Webber, who developed such iconic musicals as Phantom of the Opera, is undoubtedly a talented artist. However, as one Twitter user pointed out, one of his shows, titled Starlight Express, is even wackier than the already-pretty-insane Cats. Other tweeters added to the conversation that 30 Rock star Jane Krakowski’s first-ever role on Broadway was Dinah in the musical Starlight Express. Which, of course, the Tina Fey show did not miss an opportunity to reference in an episode of 30 Rock Season 4.
‘Cats’ is not Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most insane musical
Cats, one of Lloyd Webber’s most famous musicals, has been getting a lot of heat on Twitter recently. The 2019 film opened to bad reviews from critics and moviegoers alike, in large part because the source material is just plain odd. However, one Twitter user brought up another musical Lloyd Webber wrote that many people don’t know about.
“The weirdest Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is Starlight Express,” they wrote. Starlight Express, they explained, is kind of like Cats, but with trains instead of cats introducing themselves in song after song.
The tweeter explained the show’s plot like this: “a little boy is racing his toy trains. Then he falls asleep and has a dream where his trains come to life and have to race each. Each train sings a song introducing itself. It’s exactly Cats, but everyone is a Train.” Also, much like the feline-themed Broadway show, many of the trains are very, er… sexy.
“All the male engine trains are horny as hell, and are sabotaging each other so they can pair up with their favorite sexy female coach cars,” the tweeter wrote. “Because its also sexist.”
‘Starlight Express’, the show in which train cars are the characters–and they’re all on skates
In a true galaxy-brain twist, not only was the musical about strangely sexed-up train cars, all of the actors had to wear roller skates the whole time. Starlight Express includes several races between the train characters, meaning the show eventually became known for causing serious injuries to its own actors.
Starlight Express, the Twitter user explained, was known as “the play where actors were carried offstage screaming after being run over by other actors.”
As if this isn’t horrifying enough, Lloyd Webber had very strong opinions about rollerblades. A Twitter user added to on the original poster’s thread, “if anyone decides to perform this, they LEGALLY have to use roller skates.” Apparently the legendary Broadway composer was “very pissed when the actors wanted to use rollerblades after they were invented.” OK, yes, this is weirder than Cats.
’30 Rock’ cast member Jane Krakowski appeared in Starlight Express
Another Twitter user commented on the Starlight Express thread with a picture of 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Jane Krakowski.
“Notable weird Starlight Express trivia: It was Jane Krakowski’s broadway debut,” they wrote. “She originated the role of Dinah.”
“This trivia seems like a 30 Rock bit,” yet another tweeter responded. Someone else replied to them: in fact, the show “did reference it.”
’30 Rock’ trivia: the NBC show referenced the Lloyd Webber musical in a season 4 episode
In the 30 Rock Season 4 episode titled “Audition Day,” Liz Lemon, played by Tina Fey, is looking for a new castmember for her sketch show TGS. Liz wants to hire an actor named Jayden, but TGS star Jenna Maroney, played by Jane Krakowski, is not happy with that idea. She says they worked on a musical together back in the day and they didn’t exactly get along.
“We did a play together twenty years ago, and we were best friends,” Jenna tells Liz. “Until he betrayed me.”
Then we flashback to the memory: Jenna is dressed up in a train costume and rollerskates (just like the role of Dinah in Starlight Express). A little boy, who we assumed to be Jayden, comes up to Jenna and makes a joke at her expense.
“Hey Jenna, congratulations on your nomination! For worst supporting bra,” he says, and people in the room laugh.
Even for diehard 30 Rock fans, those not in the know of an obscure, accident-prone, roller-skating-train musical, probably missed the joke.
Liz even asks Jenna, confused, “What play is that?” Jenna never answers, meaning that 30 Rock viewers would have had to put the puzzle pieces together on their own. For many of us, that didn’t happen until December 2019, when a kind and generous Twitter expert filled us in on the horror-show of a musical that was Starlight Express (and their followers chimed in to explain a decade-old 30 Rock reference).
“Very satisfying to see!” a fan tweeted. “Thanks for the full circle reportage.”
Thank you, indeed, internet.