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Sisters In Arms

An Evening with Debra Messing and Kathy Najimy with Brian Nash at the piano is at Provincetown Town Hall, 260 Commercial St., on Sunday, August 4 at 6:30 p.m.

Debra Messing  & Kathy Najimy Come to Town Hall

by Steve Desroches

Top Image: Debra Messing (Photo: Dennis Golonka) and Kathy Najimy

The morning after Election Day 2016 Debra Messing was despondent. Leading up to that particular first Tuesday after the first Monday in November Messing had been an active and vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. But she wasn’t just devastated that Clinton lost, it was that a candidate like Trump, with his hateful rhetoric, could win. And then her phone rang. It was her friend Kathy Najimy, who, feeling the same despair, invited a group of women to her house to talk about how they felt and what to do about it. The two had been longtime, casual friends, both having worked on television shows on NBC, but a much stronger bond formed in those days after the election as the two became like family, says Messing, connecting over a shared mission and activism. The two friends in arms and affection are coming to Town Hall for a one-night-only show to share a patchwork of stories, monologues, songs, and jokes in a special only-in-Provincetown kind of night that is both a rallying cry and a bit of comic relief from the chaos of the Trump administration.

Najimy made her performance debut in Provincetown last September at Town Hall and landed on the cover of Provincetown Magazine discussing everything from Hocus Pocus to her lifelong commitment to feminism, LGBT equality, and other important causes. But Provincetown is also a place where Najimy is quite familiar with having first come here to film Bear City 2: The Proposal in 2011. For Messing, coming to Provincetown is tinged with a bit of nostalgia as she spent summers as a child at camp in Chatham, which always included trips to the Cape tip. Then, as an adult, her then husband’s family had a home in Wellfleet to which they’d make annual visits. Both developed a deep love for the town and it therefore seems perfect to join forces on stage in a place known for mixing art and activism.

“It’s a stage show in Ptown (love this town!) with Deb (lovvve this woman) and I talking, kibitzing, showing our favorite videos, and answering questions,” says Najimy via e-mail.  “We are performing a couple of original pieces and trying to all collectively make some damn sense of the Yahtzee roll of where our used-to-be-great-country is headed.”

With long individual histories as activists, Messing and Najimy joined forces following the election with MAKERS, a media outlet that supports the women’s movement by documenting real-life stories to promote gender equality. Since 2012 Najimy has directed and produced these personal monologues, inviting Messing to contribute her own specifically addressing her experiences as a woman in Hollywood. Messing delivered that monologue at the MAKERS Conference in 2017, and will do so again Monday night at Town Hall. It’s a personal contribution to not just the Me Too movement, but also Time’s Up, founded by celebrities to once and for all address sexual harassment in Hollywood. While the daily news cycle can overwhelm with disturbing story after story, this is also a time of remarkable opportunity.

“I think that in the last few years because of Donald Trump’s misogyny there is really a conversation about women as a marginalized group,” says Messing. “I don’t think it’s been discussed in this way before.”

As the Emmy-Award-winning star of the ground-breaking sitcom Will & Grace, Messing is quite familiar with the power of a platform to speak out on important issues of the day, and how when it’s done with a bit of laughter, how much more powerful that can be in opening minds and changing hearts. In 2012, then Vice President and now presidential candidate Joe Biden said the show “did more to educate the American public” on LGBT issues “than almost anything anybody has ever done so far.” And in 2014, the Smithsonian Institution added artifacts from the show to their vast collection, citing its importance in bringing LGBT issues to mainstream America.

Will & Grace certainly did more than just bring LGBT issues to the forefront of network television. It affected many within the LGBT deeply, seeing themselves represented in some way on television, perhaps for the very first time. Upon reading the pilot script, Messing says she told the producers Max Mutchnick and David Kohan that she wasn’t interested in being on a show that made gay men the butt of the joke, and she joined the cast once she was assured they would not let that happen. The fan mail that began to arrive in the middle of the first season was proof that the show struck a tender nerve with many LGBT people living in conservative parts of the country or whose families had shunned them, saying Will & Grace had made them feel less alone and even empowered, says Messing.

Inherent in the show was an exploration of a relationship that for many years had been looked at via a crass lens, that of the deep friendship between a gay man and a straight woman. Often times that relationship had been cast as a sad, pathetic woman following around her gay friend dutifully or a clownish gay man who is there for his female friend’s entertainment. But Will & Grace presented a friendship where the two didn’t exert any privileges they had and sought to support each other as equals, acknowledging the different issues that may be affecting women and gay men and that we’re more powerful marching together, something Messing insisted be part of the recent revival of the hit show, adding that the relationship in the show is based on the real life friendship between Mutchnick and his friend Janet.

“When we were talking about coming back for the reboot I said, ‘the only thing I want is for Grace to be a feminist,’” says Messing. “It seems the natural progression for the character. It was always about Grace dating and finding the perfect man. But now she’s middle-aged, single, and not a mother, by choice. It can’t help but be a political statement.  There’s an episode where Grace goes to a baby shower and defends her life saying she is happy and loves her family of choice and she says, ‘why can’t we all just support each other.’  I love that we went down that road.”

An Evening with Debra Messing and Kathy Najimy with Brian Nash at the piano is at Provincetown Town Hall, 260 Commercial St., on Sunday, August 4 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets ($75-$200) are available at the Art House box office, 214 Commercial St., at the door and online at For more information 508.487.9222.

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Graphic Artist

Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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