Megan Mullally | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Megan Mullally 

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"Everybody knows my name," sings Megan Mullally, interpreting Randy Newman's "Lonely at the Top," one of 11 well-chosen tunes on her recent CD Big as a Berry (Varese/Sarabande). Mullally is indeed famous, thanks to her hilarious portrayal of the shrill and slutty Karen Walker on NBC's Will & Grace, but those who know her only as a sitcom comedienne may be surprised to learn that she's also a gifted singer and an accomplished stage actress. A Northwestern alum, she got her start in off-Loop theater in the late 70s and early 80s. Her credits here included Bagtime, a popular Wisdom Bridge Theatre musical based on a Bob Greene serial about a Treasure Island bag boy, and City on the Make, a Nelson Algren-inspired jazz musical at Evanston's North Light Repertory Company, precursor to Skokie's Northlight Theatre. This weekend Mullally headlines a pair of benefit concerts for Northlight. Her singing ranges from sultry, southern-inflected whispers to sturdy belting a la Bernadette Peters--a span that suits her theatrical takes on a diverse repertoire that includes the Beatles' "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," folksinger Jean Ritchie's "My Dear Companion," the sardonically sexy "Barbara Song" from Brecht and Weill's Threepenny Opera, and a haunting reading of Bobbie Gentry's country classic "Ode to Billie Joe." Tickets run between $75 and $150. Saturday, November 22, 7:30 and 9 PM, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie; 847-673-6300.

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