Megan Mullally on Being in a Band (With Greg Kuehn!): 'People Think They are Going to Get a 'Will N Grace' Experience–But it's Not That at All.'

On Oct. 7-10 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, Mullally and Supreme Music Program specialize in interpreting classic pop, jazz and country songs with an idiosyncratic twist. 
The band is made up of Mullally and Orange County punk stalwart, keyboardist Greg Kuehn from TSOL, drummer Joe Berdardi, multi-instrumentalists Doug Livingston and Stuart Mathis, violist/percussionist, violist Peter Jandula Hudson and trumpet player Larry Williams. As Megan Mullally and Supreme Music Program, the act will tackle tunes by everyone from Bobbie Gentry to Hoagy Carmichael. The old school songbook and brassy sound demonstrate a different dimension of Mullally's artistic pursuits. 



How did Karen: The Musical come about? Is it really based on your Will N Grace sitcom character?
Mullally: I had the idea around the sixth season of Will N Grace. I thought it was a great idea, and it would be fun to do. I asked Sean Hayes if he wanted to play Jack again, but he didn't want to. I also thought Leslie Jordan would be great–so we were going to do it together, but we had a lot of trouble getting certain people to give us the rights. Finally, we got them for a year. We got Casey Nicholaw to direct, Fox Theatricals to produce and Jeff Blumenkrantz doing the score, and then the people who had given us the rights very cavalierly withdrew them. At this point I realize that I don't want to do the show anymore, I don't want go back. It's just too late and we missed the window–If we had done it the year after Will N Grace ended, or the year after that it would have been fantastic. But now its been four and a half years, and I can't mentally go back there anymore.

Mullally: Yeah. It's good in a way–it made me realize that I've kind of moved on. It definitely happened for a reason. It's time to move forward and not be in the past. But it was going to be HI-LAR-I-OUS! That's the only sad part: we had so many funny, crazy ideas.
Kuehn: Shit happens. 

You were slated to be in Terrence McNally's four-character play 'Lips Together, Teeth Apart.' What really happened and why did you decide to leave?
Mullally:  Yes, wouldn't you like to know? I haven't talked about that in the press, because it's a really serious subject involving behavioral problems. I can say that it was not the story that was reported, which was a lie–it had nothing to do with the actors at all. The way that it all came down was very ugly and unnecessary. It's taken me a long time to not be dismayed by human nature. I've definitely made progress in the last couple of months.

How do you think Orange County fans are going to respond to your concert? Do you think people expect you to come out with a martini screaming and dancing loudly like Karen Walker?
Mullally: We played there once before, and they seemed to like it. I would say that mostly people are already familiar with what we do. They come in expecting what they are going to get. There might be about 20 percent of the people that think they are going to get a Will N Grace experience–but it's not that at all. Overall, like three percent of people are like, “I was expecting that and I didn't get it and I'm pissed off.”
Kuehn: It's fun to have that element of surprise for people who think they are going to get one thing but get something else. But it's really rare that people don't get it. They usually get on board. Sometimes you can tell they don't know what they are getting into, but by the end of the show they are really into it. It's neat to get people turned on to a little different side of you.

Why did you take the interpretive acting out of the performance?
Kuehn: It's not a theater piece anymore. 
Mullally: We would look stupid. You know, it's just a band. There is no lighting plot–you can't create mood like we did in the theater. It would be fun to do it again. There's a video of it floating around somewhere. The famous story of theatrical shows is that we had this one fan named Bob, and he was an older gay guy who wore black satin flowing muumuu shirts with the collar turned up a diamond broach. He would sit in the front row with his boyfriend who was a gay male porn star. At the end of certain songs, he would clap and belt out, “Flawless!” and that delighted us. I don't smoke pot, but for an extra bonus he would hand us an envelope and there would be a joint or two inside.
Kuehn: There was some powdered substances at one point.
Mullally: Oh no! I don't think anyone told me about that.
Kuehn: It's like when your cat brings you a dead rat, you're like “Thanks, I guess?” It's so awkward.

I know you have been asked numerous times about your sexuality. Do you think that our culture is obsessed with putting everyone in a sexual category?
Mullally: The popular culture seems to be centered on juicy gossip. There aren't many interesting, splashy things to say about me because I am pretty boring. I once said in an interview that everyone is innately bisexual, so people now think that I am bisexual or I'm a lesbian–but I'm not. I've never had sex with a woman. But I think if you are young and single, be open to people. If the person you meet is the of opposite sex..great. But if they are of the same sex, that's great too. I don't think you should put any judgment on it. But you're lookin' fine, Danielle…this is where it starts right now. I turned, I just turned.

Your role on Childrens Hospital is totally different from what we have seen before. What attracted you to this style of comedy?
Mullally: Have you seen Party Down? I did the second season and that was really different as well. I just want to work on really good material with good people who are nice. Both of those shows fall into that category. We shoot Childrens Hospital so fast because the episodes are eleven minutes of screen time. We do one episode every two days. We just bang it out and do the entire season in a month. 

You played a hooker in Risky Business. Was it difficult to get into character? 
Mullally: I didn't really! I only had two lines that got cut. I had tested for the lead in it, and the guys were nice and threw me this little part. It was fun, though. I was 23 years old at the time.

Are you releasing another album soon?
Kuehn: We will do another album.
Mullally: We might do a live record from our London engagement and some originals.

Why do you enjoy interpreting this kind of music so much? Do you plan on covering more contemporary music at some point?
Mullally: We've been doing more contemporary music as opposed to older stuff. At least more contemporary than we used to do. I'm in charge of picking the songs, and they need to have a great melody and strong lyrics. The songs are very evocative and have a certain mood with a wide range. We don't think about the genre; we think about the song. That's why we end up with such different kind of music. 

Who were you biggest musical influences growing up?
Mullally: I like everything. I think that's how this band started. There was really only one radio station that played popular music, and they played hard rock to country music. They played a Rolling Stones song and then they would play “Strangers in the Night” by Frank Sinatra. It's just like our band, it's all very different.

What does your husband Nick Offerman think of your music career? Is he musically inclined as well?
Mullally: He loves the band. He plays our records a lot when he's in his shop where he builds furniture. He provided some commentary on Free Again on the opening track, “Up a Lazy River.” He does some talking during it. He plays guitar and wrote some funny songs and he plays the saxophone as well.

Would you ever consider hiring Sean Hayes as a backup dancer?
Mullally: Oh my god! Totally! I may be putting my husband into the show this time around, but he has to work two of the days. I want him to come up and do something. 

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