Debra Messing Sets Broadway Return in 'Birthday Candles'

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Debra Messing

The 'Will & Grace' Emmy winner will star as Ernestine Ashworth, whose path is followed from age 17 through 101 in Noah Haidle's new play about the cycle of life.

Debra Messing will return to Broadway next spring, headlining the Roundabout Theatre Company production of Noah Haidle's new play, Birthday Candles.

Vivienne Benesch will direct the production, which drew acclaim in its world premiere at the Detroit Public Theatre in May 2018 and received the first 2019 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award citation.

Haidle's play ponders the question of what makes a lifetime into a life. Messing will star as Ernestine Ashworth, first encountered on her 17th birthday, obsessing about her insignificance in the universe, and followed over jumps in time through to her 101st, an infinity of dreams later. The only real constant in her life is the secret, generations-old recipe for her famous birthday cake.

The production will begin previews April 2, 2020, at the American Airlines Theatre, ahead of an official April 21 opening. The limited engagement is scheduled through June 21. Additional cast and design team are to be announced.

Emmy-winning Will & Grace star Messing made her Broadway debut in 2014 in John Patrick Shanley's Outside Mullingar after making notable off-Broadway appearances in Donald Margulies' Collected Stories and Paul Rudnick's The Naked Truth.

Birthday Candles marks the Broadway debut for Haidle, whose earlier play Mr. Marmalade was produced by Roundabout in 2005. He is a staff writer on Jim Carrey's Showtime series Kidding.

Roundabout's current Broadway productions are Kiss Me, Kate and All My Sons. In addition to Haidle's play, the company's 2019-20 season slate will include Marisa Tomei in Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo.