When Megan Mullally, of “Will and Grace” fame, takes the stage at Fort Lauderdale’s Parker Playhouse Thursday, Jan. 16, she’ll not only be showing her cabaret singer side and Broadway chops, but also kicking off the WinterStage Concert Series.
The inaugural season of the series will also include stage superstars Megan Hilty and Patti LuPone, both backed by Sirius XM Radio’s musical theater savant Seth Rudetsky, who will also share the stage with Mullally. Plays such as “Golda’s Balcony,” “Vanities” and “Becoming Dr. Ruth” will be another part of WinterStage.
“The show I do with Seth we started doing about a year and a half ago,” explains Mullally, who has appeared on the Great White Way in “Grease,” “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “Young Frankenstein.”
“I’ve had a couple of bands, including Nancy and Beth, which is doing really well. But this is more of my Broadway background, more legit and some standards. It’s funny, weird, dirty and far more fabulous.”
Mullally says she’s comfortable with Rudetsky because they are longtime friends. “He knows where all the bodies are buried. I’ve known him since, like, 1993 or ’94, when I was doing ‘Grease,’” she says. “I thought he was the janitor or something. I think he was, like, the second assistant music director.”
Rudetsky laughs, and adds, “She always says that. But it’s true: I’ve known her forever. She’s an amazing singer. I think that’s the biggest shock for people who only know her as Karen on ‘Will and Grace.’ It’s not like she ever won a Tony, so it’s not like she really broke out. But everyone knew her on Broadway, certainly.”
Rudetsky, who’s off-Broadway show “Disaster!” is enjoying a long run, says he likes to keep the intimate concerts informal. “I really just guide the show more than anything. I’ll ask a couple of questions or ask about stories that I think are hilarious,” he says. “It’s very off-the-cuff. Nothing is planned.”
The idea for WinterStage came from playwright Matthew Lombardo, who splits his time between Manhattan and Oakland Park.
“I was in Provincetown, and [producer Mark Cortale] does a Broadway series, and we both have the same agent,” Lombardo says. “So I approached him and asked, ‘How would you feel about bringing the series down to Florida? I just thought we should take advantage of the winter season at Parker Playhouse and give the snowbirds, the tourists and the people who live down there full-time a full season … that would complement the Broadway Across America at Broward Center.”
The concept was for the concert series imported from Provincetown and three plays. “There aren’t a lot of people who do just plays, anymore. It used to be in the that there would be '70s and '80s plays on Broadway that would run for two or three years and then tour. That doesn’t happen, anymore.”
He says he thought immediately of Parker Playhouse, where he’s had successes such as “High” starring Kathleen Turner in 2012 and “Looped” starring Stefanie Powers in 2013 (after health problems forced Valerie Harper to leave the production). There are plans for the Broward Center for the Performing Arts to premiere his new comedy, possibly this year.
“I don’t know what it is about Parker Playhouse,” he says. “I love that theater. It’s just a beautiful venue. And the people that come out and support [it] are just the most wonderful people.”
IF YOU GO
When: 8 p.m., Jan. 16
Where: Parker Playhouse, 707 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale
Cost: Individual tickets for the concerts cost $31.50 to $126.50. Three-concert subscriptions cost from $88.50 to $342 (top prices for both are VIP packages that include premium seats and post-performance champagne receptions with the artists). Ticket prices for the plays to come.
Contact: 954-462-0222 or ParkerPlayhouse.com.