Debra Messing portrayed President Donald Trump in an all-star play based on the Mueller report on Monday at Beverly Hills’ Saban Theatre. Wearing a light pant suit and sitting with legs spread confidently, Messing nailed Trump’s mannerisms in the one-night-only play, “You Can’t Make This Sh*t Up,” which raised funds for a Barbara Boxer-led PAC to support Democratic candidates in the 2020 national election.
Messing, who has openly feuded with Trump on Twitter, started the play by reading, in Trump’s voice, a tweet Trump posted on Sept. 1 about her.
“I have not forgotten that when it was announced that I was going to do ‘The Apprentice,’ and when it became a big hit, helping NBC’s failed lineup greatly, @DebraMessing came up to me at an Upfront and profusely thanked me, even calling me ‘Sir,’” Messing read, to laughs from the audience of more than a thousand. “How times have changed!”
Trump’s Sept. 1 tweet was a response to Messing’s call to publish a list of names of attendees to his September fundraiser in Beverly Hills. Trump again tweeted on Sept. 5 about Messing, calling her a “bad actress” and “Debra The Mess Messing.”
In Monday’s show, Messing mimicked Trump’s speech style, hand gestures and New York accent in her reading of some of the president’s lines from the play adaptation of the Mueller report, which was released in April and investigated Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“The New York Times story did not look good,” Messing said, imitating Trump’s voice, recreating a Feb. 2018 conversation in the Oval Office, listed in the report. “I never said to fire Mueller.”
With her exaggerated delivery, Messing got laughs from castmates onstage, including Larry David, sitting adjacent to Messing as the play’s narrator, and “Saturday Night Live” original Laraine Newman, who nailed a Russian accent like a seasoned improv pro.
Boxer, who founded PAC for a Change, the night’s beneficiary of funds raised, spoke with Variety after the event, calling Messing’s performance “outstanding.”
“We toasted the cast, and what I said was, ‘Debra, if you really were Donald Trump, I would have to like you,’” Boxer, who retired as a U.S. senator in 2017, said. “She cracked me up. She did the New York thing, and I’m from New York, and the more she went on.”
A month after winning an Emmy for “Pose,” Billy Porter, joined by “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” composer Stephen Trask on piano, sang “America the Beautiful” onstage, dedicating the performance to Rep. Elijah Cummings, who died on Oct. 17.
Porter also played a version of himself in the play, recounting indictments and categories from the report as play subheadings.
Cast members also included Tony Goldwyn, Sharon Osbourne, Paul Reiser, Poppy Montgomery, Ernie Hudson and Maz Jobrani, among others.