Kathy Najimy: Sister Act
BY Brandon Voss
April 15 2009 12:00 AM ET
If you see Kathy Najimy walking down the street, don't walk on by. Instead, make a beeline to her new stage show, Back to Bacharach and David, a comedic tribute to the classic songs of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, including Top 40 hits "Walk on By," "Don't Make Me Over," and "I Say a Little Prayer." Najimy, who originally conceived the revue with musical arranger — and longtime gay friend — Steve Gunderson for a 1992 New York run, directs its Los Angeles premiere, which opens April 19 at Hollywood's Music Box Theatre @ Fonda. Having put a spell on many a 'mo with her scene-stealing roles in Hocus Pocus, Soapdish, Sister Act, and NBC's Veronica's Closet, the outspoken 52-year-old feminist and gay rights activist tells us why anyone who had a heart will love Back to Bacharach and David's sexy queer twists.
Advocate.com: How did you and collaborator Steve Gunderson meet?
Kathy Najimy: We met in drama class when we were 14 years old in the eighth grade, and we became fast friends. Steve was the star of the school, and he was in all the plays. I never got cast until he insisted that they give me a line. We also started this thing called Drama Club, where we met every Saturday night with other drama freaks from other schools. We'd do improv, lip-synching, and go out to dinner in character. We sort of made our own thing happen creatively, which is a theme that I continued throughout my career.
Did you two always want to put on a show together when you grew up?
Yeah, but I never really had big aspirations. I remember my first audition when somebody asked, "So, you wanna be a big star?" And I thought, No, not really. But I loved performing, and I think my success is just a byproduct of my drive to create.
Can you pinpoint the beginning of your Bacharach and David obsession?
It was actually when we were 14, which was 1971. I would go over to Steve's house, and he would be sitting on the floor with his legs crossed and this tiny piano in front of him like Schroeder from "Peanuts." He would be pounding out Bacharach songs and he would make me listen. It became my favorite music. I wasn't really much of a singer, but he would put me in a trio, and we'd go to a bar and sing Bacharach songs. Or we'd find ourselves performing at the Veterans Club or at a mall somewhere. So I've literally been doing this for almost 40 years.