JANA ROBBINS was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where she began dancing lessons at the early age of 4 at the Gene Kelly School of Dance, appearing in recitals and singing provocative solos like "Blues in the Night" by the age of 11. She attended Westmont Hilltop High School, where they luckily did a Broadway musical each Spring. Her junior year, she was cast as Nellie Forbush in SOUTH PACIFIC and played Eliza Doolittle her senior year in MY FAIR LADY, helping to further support and solidify her love of theater.
After graduating high school, Jana went to Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theater, returning there several times in the late 80's to teach, and direct CRIMES OF THE HEART, in which she had appeared on Broadway. In 1985 Jana was invited to be the Commencement Speaker at Stephen's Graduation Ceremony when Jean Kirkpatrick, a member of President Ronald Reagan's cabinet, became unavailable. That same year, she wrote and performed her first one woman show, "Being Alive" a musical revue about discovering your purpose in life, and knowing your self worth as a woman.
Jana's first show on Broadway was GOOD NEWS starring John Payne and Alice Faye, where she played Patricia Bingham, the Sorority Queen. The Broadway shows that followed were I LOVE MY WIFE with Lenny Baker, James Naughton & Joanna Gleason; the Pulitzer Prize-winning CRIMES OF THE HEART, ROMANCE/ROMANCE with Scott Bakula; and her favorite musical of all, GYPSY, where she played Mazeppa - the bump it with a trumpet stripper - while standing by for Tyne Daly as Mama Rose, a role she played for 40 performances to critical acclaim. Jana also covered both Linda Lavin and Michele Lee in Charle's Bush's THE TALE OF THE ALLERGIST'S WIFE, playing both roles many times.
Her memorable Off-Broadway appearances include Olivia in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM; Danny Goggin's JOHNNY MANHATTAN, TICKLES BY TUCKOLSKY with Helen Gallagher, THE ALL NIGHT STRUT, Colette in the York Theater's production of the Tom Jones/Harvey Schmidt musical COLETTE COLLAGE, and 17 characters (10 of whom were men) in the one-woman show CIRCUS GOTHIC.
Jana has also starred across the country in repertory and regional theaters, in a wide range of roles in both musicals and straight plays. She played Louise in GYPSYat the Papermill Playhouse with Dolores Gray as Mama Rose, for which she won the New Jersey Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM at Seattle Rep., Lady Sneerwell in SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL, Martirio in THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, as Sally Bowles in CABARET, Sylvia in TIP TOES at BAM, Ruth Van Horne in FOLLOW THRU at the Goodspeed Opera House, Rosalie in THE MOST HAPPY FELLA at the Kansas City Lyric Opera, Dr. Livingstone in AGNES OF GOD; Mona in DAMES AT SEA (the video tape is available for viewing at Lincoln Center), Maggie in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF at The Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia, Jennie Malone in CHAPTER TWO and Annie Dankworth in THE HOUSEKEEPER, both at the Pennsylvania Stage Company, Fanny Brice in FUNNY GIRL, and Lady in ORPHEUS DECENDING opposite Jon Tenney for the NY Stage & Film Co. Jana played Bessie Berger with Robert Prosky in AWAKE AND SING at The Arena Stage, and garnered great reviews at The Actor's Theater of Louisville's Humana Festival for her performance as the Jewish mother in THE AS IF BODY LOOP, Aunt Pearl in The New York Fringe Festival's production of AND SOMEWHERE MEN ARE LAUGHING and the title role of Maxine in the World Premier of MANAGING MAXINE at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta. She played the title role in THE DROWSY CHAPERONE for the Human Race Theater Company as part of the Victoria Theater's Broadway Series returning there to play the title role in MANAGING MAXINE which earned her the Dayton's Critics Award as Best Actress in a Play.
Summer stock and summer tours saw Jana in many roles, including Anita in WEST SIDE STORY opposite Barry Williams, Rosie in BYE BYE BIRDIE with Bobby Rydell, Rosalie in CARNIVAL with Robert Conrad;, The Leader in ZORBA on two separate tours with Georgio Tozzi and Theodore Bikel, and Barbara in RUN FOR YOUR WIFE opposite David McCallum, for which she won Florida's Carbonell Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Her National Tours include Aldonza in The First National Tour of MAN OF LA MANCHA opposite Jose Ferrer, Ethel McCormick in FOOTLOOSE with Matthew Morrison, and as Lee in THE TALE OF THE ALLERGIST'S WIFE opposite Valerie Harper.
On television Jana guest-starred on an Emmy Award-winning episode of "Cheers", and filmed her first pilot for CBS that same year called "Ladies Man" opposite Twiggy. Other 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", Jana's NY TV credits include two guest star appearances on "Law and Order: SVU", two appearances on "Criminal Intent" and an appearance on "Law and Order" opposite Sam Waterston as Assistant DA Jean Picone." She recently appeared on NURSE JACKIE and THE GOOD WIFE.
Her feature films include A PLACE FOR SARA, EAST END, HAUNTED HEART starring Olympia Dukakis; EXECUTIVE TARGET starring Michael Madsen and Roy Scheider; THE LAST DAYS OF FRANKIE THE FLY starring Dennis Hopper, Daryl Hannah and Kiefer Sutherland and the remake of THE WOMEN 2008, written and directed by Diane English, starring Meg Ryan, Annette Benning, Eva Mendez, and Candice Bergen.
Los Angeles theater-goers saw her in BANDIDOS at the Mark Taper Forum, as The Whore in HELLO AGAIN, POSSUMS, Dr. Brookner in THE NORMAL HEART, and 27 years after appearing as Aldonza with the National Company, she repeated the role at the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera opposite John McCook of "The Young and the Restless."
Jana is currenty performing JANA ROBBINS "I'M STILL HERE!" at Feinstein's/54 Below. She has performed her acclaimed cabaret shows ONE HELL OF A RIDE! (The songs of Cy Coleman) and GYPSY IN MY SOUL in New York and through-out the country. Her CD, JANA ROBBINS - FACE TO FACE on Original Cast Records, is available on CDBaby.com and Amazon.
Jana teaches and speaks at many Universities and Colleges. You may contact her to speak or deliver master classes on acting as well as producing in the theater. Click here for more information about her Lectures.