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B'way's Lea Michele goes gleefully back to high school

As ambitious "Glee"-clubber and social pariah Rachel Berry, Lea Michele has taken more than a few fruit slushies to the face in the hallways of McKinley High and tried romancing her teacher by singing "Endless Love." The leap into the land of awkward adolescence has been a big one for Michele, the 23-year-old stage actress whose Broadway resume is all serious drama ("Spring Awakening," "Les Misérables").

Who are your comedic influences?

I used to watch Gilda Radner, and I'd always be trying to imitate her when she'd do Roseanne Roseannadanna. It helped that I come from a very colorful Italian family and a very colorful Jewish family, and they let me be as crazy as I wanted to be. I would sit in front of my mom and play Barbra Streisand or Fran Drescher on a talk show - and I'd play both the host and the guest.

Do you find that there are any similarities between you and Rachel?

I was very much like Rachel when I was, like, 8 or 9. I always wanted to perform. Every Christmas video is me standing in front of my family singing "Santa Baby" and putting on a mini-concert.

You've got a big, all-Madonna episode coming up next year?

I'm doing six Madonna songs, some of which will be mash-ups. Amber (Riley) and Chris (Colfer) (who play Mercedes and Kurt) are doing something really cool together, but I can't give anything away.

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