ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Megan Mullally and Seth in a Land Down Under

By Seth Rudetsky
26 Feb 2013

Seth with Megan Mullally

The first Broadway show Megan saw was Chicago with Gwen Verdon and Chita Rivera, and years later Megan was offered the revival. She actually aged through her offers: first she was offered Roxie, then a few years later she was asked to play Velma and recently…the Matron!

She said she had a lot of ups and downs work-wise, and when she was offered "Will and Grace," she only had $200 left in her bank account! She didn't have enough money to buy a Karen Walker-type outfit for the audition so she wore things she got in a thrift-store: boots, leggings, a skirt she had cut herself to end above-the-knees, a shirt that said "Utilities" and a fake-fur wrap. She recalls that it was her nicest outfit at the time. She claims if she had been invited to the Oscars, she would have had to wear that. After her audition, the creators told her she was called back but asked her to bring an outfit that was more "Madison Avenue." Megan said that she thought at the time, "An outfit more Madison Avenue? Yeah…fresh out."

We were talking about all of the guest appearances she'd done (she was George's girlfriend on "Seinfeld" in the so-called Double Dipping episode) and years before that she was on "Murder, She Wrote." She's obsessed with that episode. In one scene in it, she was running and had to say, "Grandfather! No! Don't! Please! Wait! Stop!"



After our three shows in Sydney, we went to Melbourne and did two final shows (also sold-out!). It was exhausting but really fun. In every show she did a song with her friend Stephanie Hunt. They met doing a film together and soon Stephanie is about to star in the ABC series called "How to Live With Your Parents." She and Megan have a group called "Nancy and Beth" (weirdly, the names of my two sisters!) and they do tight harmony and choreography. They really sound great together and they have two shows coming up in Alexandria, VA and Boston (info at NancyAndBeth.com).

Even though Paul was here just to take a vacation, we wound up suckering him into the show and he sang harmony with all of us on this beautiful gospel song called "Waiting For My Child" and brought down the house with some hilarious stories. The best was about a fish smell on stage during Grease! and his imitation of Megan saying, "Who would go home between shows…and cook a cod?"

The weirdest thing is all of the Americans we ran into in Australia. Paul's friend Holly Davis Bebout, with whom he did 9 to 5, was there because her husband was helping direct the Australian company of The Addams Family. Then we had lunch with our friend Spring who was also in Grease! with us on Broadway back in the day. She's now a yoga singer/busker and is touring through Australia. Then in Melbourne, I hooked up with my friend Curt Skinner with whom I did Joseph… in 1989 (!) with a non-Equity Norm Lewis! Curt went on to do Rent on Broadway and now he's married to an Aussie and living in Melbourne. And at the show that night was my friend Jen Bender who's touring Australia as the director of a Cirque Du Soleil show. Jen went to Northwestern just like Megan, but wasn't there the same years so she missed Megan's triumph in West Side Story…as Anita. For reals. If you think that role's inappropriate for Megan, how about the fact that right before she was cast as Karen, she almost got the Leah Remini part on "The King of Queens." Megan explained, "I was up for it because I'm so blue collar."

Well, now I'm on the Melbourne-to-Sydney flight as I write this, and soon the 14-hour Sydney-to-L.A part. Oy!

While I'm in the air, get thee to SethTV.com and see some of the new programming! I just put up my Purim show from the early 2000s when I told the story of Purim using the songs for Funny Girl! It has some amazing performances by Shoshanna Bean, LaChanze, Billy Porter, Andrea Burns, Leslie Kritzer and Peter Gallagher. And, if you want to hear some hilarity, watch the Playbill "Obsessed!" video I just did with Susan Blackwell. Not only is she a master storyteller, she is another actress who inappropriately played Anita in West Side Story, and she recreates it in the video.

 

The New York Times article about the Midtown March Medley is supposed to come out this weekend so buy tickets now before the Grey Lady makes us sold out. Once again, go to MidtownMarchMedley.com, and peace out!

 

(Seth Rudetsky is the afternoon Broadway host on SiriusXM. He has played piano for over 15 Broadway shows, was Grammy-nominated for his concert CD of Hair and Emmy-nominated for being a comedy writer on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show." He has written two novels, "Broadway Nights" and "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan," which are also available at Audible.com. He recently launched SethTV.com, where you can contact him and view all of his videos and his sassy new reality show.)