The Return of Karen Walker in KAREN: THE MUSICAL, MetroSource's Q&A with Megan Mullally
It has been three years since the much beloved "Will & Grace," starring Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally bid adieu to American primetime television. Since then, our favorite neurotic Jewish girl, gay best friend, diva queen and loudmouthed gold digger have gone their separate successful ways. Messing starred in the mini-series "The Starter Wife" and will be returning to primetime in a new comedy series this season. McCormack went on to star in the New York production of SOME GIRL(S), the television mini-series "The Andromeda Strain," the 2009 TNT drama "Trust Me" and the film "Alien Trespass." In addition to running his own production company, Hazy Mills, Sean Hayes appeared in "The Bucket List" with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, DAMN YANKEES in New York City Center's Encores! production, and voiced 'the fish' in "The Cat in the Hat." Mullally, of course, premiered in the sitcom "In the Motherhood" after a run with her own talk show, and starred in Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein" on Broadway.
While the public has embraced the ensemble in their new roles, it is undeniable that for most, the friendly foursome will always be our Grace, Will, Jack and Karen.
Good news: Karen will be back, according to Megan Mullally, in the form of KAREN: THE MUSICAL. In an interview with Metrosource, the actress reveals: "I had this idea probably - gosh, what year is this? 2009 - I probably had this idea around 2005 and I was just like, "Oh, my God." And I just had it all in like a flash. So I have some people I've been collaborating with and I can't really - I have a great composer and I think we're going to get a great director and a great book writer and the idea for it is HILARIOUS. It's basically Karen decides for a variety of hilarious reasons to do a Broadway show called "Karen: The Musical." That's the general premise of it right now. It could change, but the general premise is not going to change that much. It will probably involve the Beverly Leslie character too. Leslie Jordan, who played Beverly Leslie, has quite a bit of stage experience. He's done one-man shows forever and he's hilarious and great on stage. We're just trying to work on it right now and I think it's going to be really exciting."
The idea is more than fitting. Mullally explains: "One of their original ideas for her background was that she was an ex-showgirl. It was never actually established on the show. Two things that were never established on the show that the creators secretly always thought was that Karen was an ex-showgirl but she was also a bat who, at night, folds up her wings and sleeps upside-down hanging from the rafters and that she was, like, 250 years old. But yeah, I really want to do that show because the character can support that, but also because nobody ever does that. Actors usually want to distance themselves from their sitcom characters but I think it would be hilarious to just keep going with it in a new way." "That character is just a real joy and there's just so much you can do with it comedically and especially if it's theater and there's no Standards & Practices to worry about...Just Karen saying you know, (Karen voice) "[Expletive] you!" to somebody is going to be funny just because you've never heard it before."
With her television star persona, only the "theater-types" know Mullally's roots to be in stage performance. She explains: "That was the first thing I did: musicals. I was always singing along to the radio when I was a kid, I knew the words to every song. Actually, the first fan letter I ever wrote - well, it was more of a love letter, with my little teardrops staining it - was to Michael Jackson when I was 11 years old...Then, when I was 12 I did a summer stock production of Fiddler on the Roof where I played - there's actually five daughters, but two of them are really little, and they only have a couple of lines a piece - and I was one of those. That was the first musical I ever did and I've been doing them ever since. I've done three musicals on Broadway, but most people don't know that." (YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT TRYING with Matthew Broderick, and GREASE with Rosie O'Donnell).
Mullally will next appear in the remake of "Fame" and a yet-to-be-announced production at the Roundabout (in full Karen Walker voice). She continues to record with her band, the Supreme Music Program. Mullally, Metrosource reports, cannot wait to begin her new musical. "Sometimes I like doing the wrong thing, the thing that nobody else would do, and this kind of falls into that category. There's a certain amount of, you know, naughtiness or temerity involved. It's like, "Oh, guess what? My sitcom character's doing a musical." I love that."
So do we.
To access the full interview with Mullally on KAREN: THE MUSICAL, "Fame" and life after "Will & Grace," click here.