Roald Dahl’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is on tour and just finishing its run at Juanita K. Hammons Hall! This delicious tale blends everyone’s favorite characters from the classic book with songs from the beloved film to create a delectable live full-scale Broadway production. We asked some of the company members about their experience touring with the show – let us introduce you to Kate Friesen, Assistant Company Manager. Fun fact, Kate was born in Springfield!
What was your path to becoming an Assistant Company Manager?
I had a really fun path to becoming an Assistant Company Manager. My senior year of college, one of my really good friends was a cast member in the NETworks tour of Finding Neverland and I would visit her on tour and pester her with all the questions of tour life. She told me all about her Company Manager and their responsibilities… I was hooked! When I graduated in 2019, I applied for a job at my regional theatre, the Walton Arts Center, to get my foot in the theatre world. During my interview, they asked what my dream job was, and I mentioned the Company Management role. NETworks was teching a different production at the Walton Arts Center that summer and my interviewer knew they were looking for a Production Assistant for the Company Manager of that show. So, I left the interview with two jobs that day! I was the Production Assistant for the Company Manager of Blue Man Group for three weeks while they were at the Walton Arts Center and after they left to kick off their tour in LA, I stayed in Fayetteville at the Walton Arts Center working for my home theatre. I stayed in contact with everyone I had met during my time as a Production Assistant throughout that season and into the pandemic. Once NETworks knew they would be sending shows back onto the road in the fall of 2021, they already knew I was willing and excited to learn the role of an Assistant Company Manager, so here I am!
What was the interview process like for this show?
I had one Zoom interview and was informally offered the position at the end of it! Because I had already worked with NETworks and the incoming Company Manager as a Production Assistant, I already had a step ahead in the process.
What’s your favorite part about touring the country with CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY?
I love getting to know each person in the company and exploring new cities together. Some company members like to find a special coffee shop in each city, some like to find unique food, some like to find cute vintage stores, some like to find delicious smoothie shops, some like to find amazing tourist-y spots…. and I love to wander each city with these friends and explore their favorite stops with them!
What has it been like to return to theatre after a nearly two-year break?
Returning to theatre has been indescribable – it is so crazy and heartbreaking to remember literally not being able to do the jobs we love and enjoy the unique culture of theatre for almost two years. So now, to be on the road in my dream job with a show as fun and uplifting as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it is all the very best words you can think of all smashed together in one squeal of joy!
What do you enjoy most about being Assistant Company Manager for this show?
This job is unique because tours have Music Directors that lead the musicians, Head Carpenters that lead the crew, Stage Managers that lead the cast, and the Assistant Company Manager and Company Manager get to lead and support all of these departments. It is a unique position that has many roles, so each day is very different from the last, and I get to work closely with all 60+ members of our company!
What has the audience reaction been to CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY?
I love listening to the audience during each performance- visitors to the factory have such a good time! There are lots of laughs, plenty of surprised gasps, and obviously cheers of joy! It is a heart-warming show that is perfect for the first season back to theatre in almost two years!
Favorite Wonka candy?
Definitely Everlasting Gobstoppers!
What item can’t you live without while on tour?
My favorite pillow! Living in hotels is lots of fun, but every bed and pillow is different, so I like having the same place to lay my head each night- also, it makes bus rides really comfy!
What does an ACM do?
An Assistant Company Manager supports the Company Manager in basically making sure the company gets from show to show, city to city, safely and on time! We book flights, buses, and hotel rooms. We make sure everyone gets paid! We make sure everyone knows what to expect in each city (restaurants, important contacts, schedules, unique challenges, or exciting spots to check out). We are also a point-of-contact between company members and the NETworks (tour producer’s) main office in Maryland. The Company Management team supports all the departments on the road to make sure Charlie has a successful trip to the Wonka factory!
You were born in Springfield. What are you most excited about doing in town when you return?
I can’t wait to visit the Wonders Of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium inside Bass Pro Shops (I love an aquarium), eat Springfield Cashew Chicken, and walk around the Missouri State University campus with my mom who is an alumna & coming up from Fayetteville to visit!
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is part of the 2021-2022 Broadway Season at Juanita K. Hammons Hall. Upcoming shows include HAIRSPRAY, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, CATS (Broadway Bonus) and ANASTASIA. For show information and to purchase tickets visit HammonsHall.com.