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Q&A: Kathy Fitzgerald of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’

Category Actor Spotlight

|by Jeryl Brunner |

Kathy Fitzgerald plays Mrs. Gloop in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’

Kathy Fitzgerald plays the sausage-loving mother of Augustus Gloop in the delicious and funny musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. A Broadway veteran, Fitzgerald has appeared on Broadway in Wicked, The Producers, 9 To 5 and Swinging on a Star

Kathy Fitzgerald (third from left) stars in 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' (Photo: 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory')

Kathy Fitzgerald (third from left) stars in 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' (Photo: 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory')

What do you adore about doing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Kathy Fitzgerald
: The audiences love it. It’s such an old story that everybody knows, especially with the movie. Also, Christian [Christian Borle who plays Willy Wonka] is so good. He is worth the price of admission.  I call my role a clown part. We’ve just been in the Bucket house and then all of a sudden the group of golden ticket winners come out. Here come the clowns. 

What qualities do you love about Mrs. Gloop? 
To play this goofy, dumb, joyful lady is so fun to do on stage. Me and F. Michael Haynie [Augustus] play characters who are very loving, but very stupid. There is nothing more delicious than playing a dumb person. They are so innocent and they love everything, everybody and each other. They are all about joy. 

They always have sausage with them. 
 I carry many sausages in the play. In every single scene I have a sausage. I come out with sausages. We make our second entrance with big, giant weiners. I play with sausages in my song. So this is all about being sweet and dumb and having a lot of sausages. That is my whole character. 

Since Mrs. Gloop has such a deep connection with sausage. Have you grown more of a fondness for it? 
I have always enjoyed sausage. Not to the extent that the Gloops do, I think it’s their main food staple. But they’re really fun props. You can do so much with it. It’s hilarious.

When did you know you had to be a performer? 
Pretty much right at the get go. I always wanted to do this, always. Let’s be honest. My dad ran a theater in Los Angles and put me in my first show when I was five. I never wanted to do anything else, ever.  The show was The Pied Piper of Hamelin. I played the baby executioner. In the play, my dad was supposed to execute somebody but got sick and sent his little boy instead. I played the little boy and was literally five years old in my executioner’s outfit. I had one line, “My dad’s got lumbago.” 

Why do you love to sing?  
 I’m so lucky I can sing. I can’t even imagine not being able to sing. It’s just so fun. I’m so grateful because I only went to an acting school, I didn’t go to musical theater school. After acting school all of my friends who did musicals made a hell of a lot more money. I thought, I hope I can sing. And luckily, I can. There are so many styles and it's so fun to sing.  In this show I have to yodel which is not really that easy. You have to throw your voice a little bit. The secret to a good yodel is going head to chest. You’re throwing your voice from your chest to your head, quickly.  

What do you do on your day off? 
I have a house in the Poconos so I go up there and garden. I have about an acre of land, deer and a stream. Right now, I’ve been taking my daughter up there because my husband is working in L.A. She is leaving for college on the West Coast, so I’m going to be an empty nester soon. I’m terrified. 

Why should someone see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
It’s a fun, fun, fun show. The music is fantastic and it makes you feel good. You leave the theater having laughed a lot and very touched because the show has a lot of heart. You really feel for little Charlie. And it’s not just a great show for kids. There is a lot of adult humor too. I love it. 

What was your first job? 
My first job was acting at the Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville, on the central coast of California. It was non union but was the first time I made a livable paycheck. Melodrama is weird because the audience talks and throws things at you. It was a really aggressive theater. I had just come from doing the classics like Shakespeare, so I was not used to it at all. But it was also the first time that I thought I was funny. I had to make the audience laugh because if you weren’t funny they would throw popcorn, weiners and hotdogs at you. It was a really aggressive audience participation theater –they would literally throw their hot dogs at you. I had to figure out how to be funny really fast.  I guess we have come full circle. I’m back to wieners again. 

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