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Megan Mullally, free at last

October 17, 2009 |  3:30 pm


“Will & Grace’s” Megan Mullally is more than a star --- she’s a trouper.

Mullally, who plays the title role in “The Receptionist” at the Odyssey Theatre through Nov. 21, is on intimate terms with a challenging flip side of stardom that has nothing to do with aggressive paparazzi. She’s an avid stage actor, and live appearances for her can feel like running a marathon: She knows that audiences don’t want to see an understudy when they’ve paid to see a star.

“I felt that pressure when I was doing ‘Young Frankenstein’ ” on Broadway, she said recently. “Since I was the most recognizable name in the show, I always felt like, oh, God. I can never get sick or miss a show, because there were ‘Will & Grace’ fans flying in from all over the world to see that. And I always thought, what if I miss a show and a guy came from India or a lot of people came from Finland, South American countries, everywhere. I’d go out and sign autographs every night and go, if I hadn’t been there tonight and you’d come all the way from Russia, that would have been a real bummer.”

In the 10 months Mullally appeared as Elizabeth in the Mel Brooks musical during 2007 and 2008, she showed up for 350 performances, taking off only two weeks --- one for vacation and another for the pilot of “In the Motherhood.”

“I always go on when I’m sick,” she said. “Unless you’re throwing up, because that can be really unpleasant for the audience.”

-- Irene Lacher

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Photo: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times