Subscribe

Broadway veteran Kathy Fitzgerald plays stage mother supreme in Santa Rosa production of ‘Gypsy’

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Subscribe

If You Go

What: ‘Gypsy’

When: Sept. 20-Oct. 20, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, plus 2 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday.

Where: 6th Street Playhouse, 52 W. 6th St., Santa Rosa

Admission: $38-$48

Information: 707-523-3544, 6thstreetplayhouse.com

What: Musical Theatre Master Class with Kathy Fitzgerald

When: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Oct. 8

Where: Monroe Stage studio theater, 6th Street Playhouse, 52 W. 6th St., Santa Rosa

Admission: $15 in advance, $20 at the door, with 90 spectator spaces available

Information: 707-523-3544, 6thstreetplayhouse.com

In the world of theater it’s often assumed that everyone wants the title role, but Broadway veteran Kathy Fitzgerald goes after the character parts.

“They’re the best parts. The ingenue and leading lady roles are boring,” the veteran actress said. “I never wanted to play those parts.”

And it’s worked out just fine for her, with a six-year Broadway run in “The Producers,” followed by a role in the movie version of that musical. She also originated the role of Mrs. Gloop in the Broadway version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” two years ago, performed in the musical version of “9 to 5” and has made multiple appearances as Madame Morrible in “Wicked.”

“I’ve been a very lucky actress,” she said. “I’ve been working almost 40 years.”

Fitzgerald will be on the job Friday, when Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse opens its monthlong run of the classic Broadway musical “Gypsy,” based on the memoirs of famed striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee.

Who will Fitzgerald play? The role often called the musical comedy equivalent of Shakespeare’s King Lear — the quintessential stage mother, Momma Rose.

“It’s a lot of work and a big responsibility,” Fitzgerald. “Not only is she a famous character, but she was a real person.”

Rose Evangeline Thompson Hovick, who died in 1954, was the mother of two famous performing daughters: burlesque artist Rose Louise Hovick, alias Gypsy Rose Lee, and actress and dancer Ellen June Evangeline Hovick, better known as June Havoc.

The play opens with Rose and her two daughters, Baby June and Louise, playing the vaudeville circuit around the United States in the early 1920s. June is the child star, while Louise is shy, and both of them are constantly prodded by their ambitious mother.

“Rose is kind of a problem but she means well,” Fitzgerald conceded. “It’s a challenge to play so many layers.”

The role of Rose was developed with the powerhouse song belter Ethel Merman in mind. In 1959, she opened on Broadway in the show, which was produced by David Merrick and directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

In the 6th Street Playhouse production, directed by Jared Sakren, the theater’s executive and artistic director, the role of Gypsy Rose will be played by Carmen Mitchell, who starred as Maria in last season’s Playhouse production of “West Side Story.”

This is not Fitzgerald’s first appearance at the Santa Rosa theater. She performed at a fundraiser there in 2017, and has known Sakren for a 30 years.

Both of them were active in the Phoenix, Arizona, theater scene. Originally from Los Angeles and a New Yorker for the past 25 years, Fitzgerald spent some half a dozen years in between performing in Phoenix, where she has previously played the role of Momma Rose.

Sakren, graduate of the Juilliard School and a founding member of the Acting Company with famed actor John Houseman, spent nearly 16 years as producing artistic director of the Southwest Shakespeare Company in the greater Phoenix area.

“Now it’s me and Jared, working together again,” said Fitzgerald, calling the 6th Street Playhouse 184-seat main auditorium “a really sweet space. I’m used to playing to two or three thousand people. I have to bring head into this space. I don’t have to act so big. I can be more intimate.”

While the actress is working in Santa Rosa, she’ll do more than just play Momma Rose. She’ll put on a public master class in stage performance Oct. 8 at the 6th Street Playhouse. She’ll also appear at a private fundraiser for the theater’s donors. Fitzgerald has done some movie and television work over the years, but it’s the live stage shows that she loves.

“I honestly don’t prefer TV and film to live theater. Unless you’re Meryl Streep, you don’t get rehearsal time,” Fitzgerald said. “And you don’t get the audience feedback.”

You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @danarts.

If You Go

What: ‘Gypsy’

When: Sept. 20-Oct. 20, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, plus 2 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday.

Where: 6th Street Playhouse, 52 W. 6th St., Santa Rosa

Admission: $38-$48

Information: 707-523-3544, 6thstreetplayhouse.com

What: Musical Theatre Master Class with Kathy Fitzgerald

When: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Oct. 8

Where: Monroe Stage studio theater, 6th Street Playhouse, 52 W. 6th St., Santa Rosa

Admission: $15 in advance, $20 at the door, with 90 spectator spaces available

Information: 707-523-3544, 6thstreetplayhouse.com

Show Comment

Our Network

Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Emerald Report
Spirited Magazine