See an Exclusive First Look at Debra Messing in Rehearsals for Broadway's 'Birthday Candles'

Debra Messing will return to Broadway this week in the New York premiere of Birthday Candles, which begins performances Friday at the American Airlines Theatre

Debra Messing
Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Debra Messing is having her cake and eating it, too!

The Will & Grace star, 53, is gearing up for her return to Broadway in the New York premiere of Noah Haidle's Birthday Candles, and PEOPLE has a first look at the actress in rehearsals.

In the 90-minute play, which begins performances Friday at the American Airlines Theatre ahead of an official April 10 opening on Broadway, Messing plays Ernestine Ashworth, who celebrates birthdays from 17 to 101 over the course of the evening.

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Debra Messing
Jeremy Daniel

"Bringing this new, gorgeous play to Broadway is more thrilling than any birthday wish I could imagine," Messing tells PEOPLE of the new play, which had its world premiere in 2018 at the Detroit Public Theatre.

Directed by Vivienne Benesch, the cast will also feature Tony Award nominee John Earl Jelks, Enrico Colantoni, Crystal Finn, Susannah Flood and Christopher Livingston.

Birthday Candles
Jeremy Daniel

Messing, who was last seen on Broadway in the 2014 production of Outside Mullingar, said that her return to the Great White Way feels "like coming home to the home I've always wanted."

In a promo for the show, she added, "Theater is my first love, and there's nothing purer that acting in a play in front of live people. The Roundabout was this monolith, this place that did extraordinary work with thrilling artists and new artists that no one ever heard of before, and I just wanted some day to be able to act in a play at the Roundabout. To bring a brand-new play and to originate a brand-new play is such a privilege. I feel so honored, and I just want to do the play justice."

In a recent interview with Playbill, Messing said that Birthday Candles asks the question, "Have I wasted my life?"

She explained, "That's a question you're constantly asking yourself at every stage. Am I wasting time? What should I do with my time? And the people in your life? And at the end of your life, do you feel like you have lived a full life?"

She added that audiences will see themselves on stage. "You will see your mom, your dad, you will see… Everyone who comes to this play will see someone that they know on this stage," she said. "You will laugh throughout the whole thing, and you may cry, and I think you will be excited by the structure of the play."

Birthday Candles is scheduled to play a limited engagement through May 29 at the American Airlines Theatre.

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