SWC guest Kathy Najimy funny, fierce, and warm
 

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posted Friday, February 4, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 05

SWC guest Kathy Najimy funny, fierce, and warm
by Miryam Gordon - SGN Contributing Writer

Seattle Women's
Chorus with
Kathy Najimy
February 25-26
Paramount
Theatre


Seattle Women's Chorus is thrilled to have guest star Kathy Najimy perform with them in their February concert at the Paramount Theatre. The versatile comedienne is not just a funny lady, but a fierce supporter of LGBT issues, having worked in support of HIV/AIDS organizations and Gay marriage for many years, and received numerous honors for her hard work.

Kathy Najimy has been the voice of Peggy Hill for the 14 seasons of the television cartoon King of the Hill, starred in Veronica's Closet, and may be most widely known for her portrayal of Sister Mary Patrick in the blockbuster hits Sister Act and Sister Act 2. She's directed Broadway and solo shows, and is also a mean poker player and became the tournament champion on Celebrity Poker Showdown.

SWC's concert, Swing into Laughter, is full of funny songs, including a new one from Eric Lane Barnes (who likes to shrink musicals a la The Sound of Music in 5 Minutes). The 'nun' connection honors Kathy's great success as a movie nun. Several songs and bits will be performed with Kathy, including a segment on work and women. We spoke to her about the show.

'I am singing a couple of songs from one of my favorite musicals, Studs Terkel and Steven Swartz's Working. I love this play and the message musicals of that era (the '70s)! I even spent my early 20s touring around San Diego with Whoopi [Goldberg] ... performing political musicals for a year.' A segment about Texas is connected to King of the Hill.

Singing has often been a part of her performances (Sister Act, Hocus Pocus, The Kathy and Mo Show, Dirty Blonde). Still Kathy minimizes, 'I enjoy it, but the truth is I'm an actress who just happens to sing. I've done musicals on Broadway and sung in films and in TV projects. I sing in the shower, in the car. My husband's a singer and my daughter's a singer. Real singer-singers!'

Kathy lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter and is clearly proud of both of them. She tells the sweet story of how she met her husband, Dan Finnerty, in 1995, who was then a member of the touring production of Stomp: 'I have a publicist friend who invited me to the red carpet opening of the L.A. premiere and saw [Stomp] and loved it a lot. It was the first time I had been single in nine years. [There was] this cute red-head, cute and very funny. I ended up having a cast party for all of them the next week, because I loved the show so much.

'I had a big party for them and when the party was going to end, Dan came up and said, 'We're all jumping out of an airplane at 9 a.m. Do you want to come?' And I had always wanted jump out of an airplane. So I put on some sweats and put my hair in a ponytail, drove to their hotel, and Dan jumped in the front seat of my convertible for the two-hour drive. And when we got there we had to pick people to jump with and we picked each other and have been together ever since!'

Kathy was actually hesitant to get married - not because she wasn't 'sold' on Dan as a husband, but because she felt so strongly about everyone having the right to marry that she wanted to wait until all her friends could do so if they wanted. 'We got married in August, 1998. I loved it. We had a lot of our friends perform.

'RuPaul blessed the room with sage, and Gloria [Steinem] married us and Melissa Etheridge sang 'Ave Maria' and it was really fun. I was hesitant to get married, because everybody doesn't have the right to get married and I wanted to wait until everyone could. We had Gloria say, 'Kathy and Dan are thrilled that people could come from all over the country so people could celebrate with them, and their sadness is that all their brothers and sisters don't have the same right to celebrate their love.'

Kathy's support for Gay marriage has a new effort: Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays, an evening of short plays that she was invited to participate in. Along with nine other playwrights (Jenny Lyn Bader, Jordan Harrison, Jeffrey Hatcher, Moises Kaufman, Neil LaBute, Wendy MacLeod, Jose Rivera, Paul Rudnick, and Doug Wright), Kathy was asked to write a 10-minute monologue on the subject. She exclaims, 'It was so thrilling, and we're doing it in Los Angeles, and I'm going to be doing that piece for [SWC]!' A website (standingonceremony.net) was established, publicizing several fundraisers to benefit marriage equality. Kathy notes, 'I'm the only playwright performing my own piece, each of three Monday nights in Los Angeles, in January and February. They have a different cast, but I'm doing all three Mondays myself.' A bevy of acting notables lent their efforts to this production, so it's attracting a lot of attention in L.A.

Since Kathy has many close Gay friends who are like aunts and uncles to daughter Samia, Kathy shared a funny 'mom' story about when Samia was about 8 years old and Kathy was teaching her how to be safe if she's lost. She told Samia, 'If you're lost, find a police [officer], or a woman with a baby, or a woman, or a man with a baby, or a man by himself as a last choice. One day I was driving and she said, 'Mom, I've been thinking about if I'm lost.' And I said, 'What?' 'You said I should go to woman first and man second, but what about a Transgender? Shouldn't I go to Transgender second?' I thought, 'Only my child.' I had to pull over and laugh for a long time. I said, 'Chances are that might be a great choice.' That pretty much sums it up.'

With all the successes she's had, is there something she aspires to accomplish? Yes! Kathy blossoms as she speaks of her next project. 'I'm currently writing a book, and it's the hardest thing I've ever done - finishing this book and making it into a one-woman show - but I really want to do it.' The book is a memoir on how her life has intersected with people she considered idols, like Bette Midler and Gloria Steinem, and how she found them becoming real relationships in her life.

One example from the book is a story about when she was a rabid teenage fan who ran backstage at a concert, dodging guards and Bette's manager, and throwing open doors to find her just to say, 'I love you!' Another time, she dressed as a huge bunny to give Bette a singing telegram that she wrote herself. Later, she saw the movie Beaches, where Bette played a woman delivering singing telegrams in a bunny suit. Finally, she got to star as Bette's sister in Hocus Pocus.

'Can you believe it?' Kathy asked, then paused. 'Maybe that's what I should call the book!'

For more information on the concert on February 20 in Olympia (with Kathy) or February 25 and 26 at the Paramount, go to www.flyinghouse.org or call 206-388-1400.



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