Interview: Groundlings Alumni Katierose Donohue Enriquez Is The QUEEN OF FISHTOWN

Katierose Donohue Enriquez's multi-award-winning Queen of Fishtown returns to L.A. for 3 nights @ The Groundlings beginning April 12th

By: Apr. 06, 2024
Interview: Groundlings Alumni Katierose Donohue Enriquez Is The QUEEN OF FISHTOWN
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Interview: Groundlings Alumni Katierose Donohue Enriquez Is The QUEEN OF FISHTOWN

Katierose Donohue Enriquez's multi-award-winning Queen of Fishtown returns to Los Angeles for three nights at The Groundlings beginning April 12, 2024. Corey Podell directs Katierose in her love letter to Philly.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Katierose!

Absolutely, I’m thrilled! Thank you for taking an interest in the journey of Queen of Fishtown. 

How great has it been for you to take Queen of Fishtown from your sold-out Hollywood Fringe run to the Edinburgh Fringe, London, New York and Philadelphia and other cities?

Writing, performing and producing Queen of Fishtown has been the hardest and most incredibly transcendent experience of my life! So, to answer your question, it’s been the greatest! 

I signed up to do both the Hollywood Fringe and the Edinburgh Fringe the same night on a whim in January 2022, this was while all the theaters were closed, yet again (maybe the 4th time?) during COVID’s omicron era. 

To be honest, I had no idea what I was in for – but I can say, without hesitation, I am beyond grateful that I was able to launch this whole journey at the Broadwater Theater. It was the best decision. The community there is thriving. I know that theaters are closing all over the city and all over this country, but on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Lillian Way the house is packed with eager audiences every night. 

Were there any audience reactions that took you by surprise?

Interview: Groundlings Alumni Katierose Donohue Enriquez Is The QUEEN OF FISHTOWN Yes! When we were in Philadelphia to do the show at the historic Plays and Players Theatre, there was a record-breaking heat wave. And even though the old theatre (2nd oldest in the USA) had an air-conditioning unit, it was not sufficient. (It has since been replaced!) I emailed all of the ticket holders and warned them. The temperature in the audience was about 100° I am not exaggerating. On stage, it was about 115-120°. BUT! The people still came! In fact, we were oversold! We were adding seats and some people were sitting along the aisle. It was truly wild! In an attempt to thwart any emergencies, we handed out ice waters as the audience entered the theater. I went to Little Italy in South Philly and bought hand fans, (they were pretty!) we left one on each seat, we had a couple giant industrial fans blowing over trays of ice at the audience. (You don’t get this kind of treatment at the Mark Taper! Lol!) Somehow this worked. I mean, everyone was drenched in sweat. I looked like I had jumped into a pool. I am still astounded that they stayed. Hell, I got a standing ovation! I guess in that moment, the show became an immersive theater experience- we were all in the room where it happened. 

Was it most significant to you to play in Philadelphia where your play is centered?

While Queen is by no means autobiographical, it is definitely very personal and it was very important to me to have a thumbs up from my home city that the story felt authentic. It is a privilege for me to tell the story of the fictional Kathleen Burke, and the very real, and very gentrified neighborhood of Fishtown. Luckily, it was a hit! Philly loves Philly! 

You developed Queen of Fishtown during your Sunday workshops at The Groundlings. Is this another full circle moment for you to be performing your show on The Groundlings stage?

Absolutely! This is a full circle moment for me and my director, Corey Podell. We were in the Sunday Company together where I wrote a sketch that inspired the opening of the play nearly a decade later.

Interview: Groundlings Alumni Katierose Donohue Enriquez Is The QUEEN OF FISHTOWN How long has the gestation period of Queen of Fishtown been? 

I wrote the original sketch in 2010. I wrote a TV pilot based on the sketch in April 2021. A few months after that, I started developing it into a solo show. (An experience that I lovingly refer to as the reverse FLEABAG.) June 2, 2022, Queen opened at the Hollywood Fringe. Since then I’ve done the show in seven cities and three countries. Now, I’m re-adapting the solo show back into a television pilot. Because, it turns out, performing a thing more than 60 times— you make some discoveries.

All told, I suppose we are at year 14 of gestation — THAT’S ONE BIG BABY! 

Out of all the many awards you’ve won for Queen of Fishtown, is there one in particular that has most significance to you?

The Firework Award for Best Character Driven Solo Show at Edinburgh Fringe was a complete surprise! There are about 4,000 shows at EdFringe. I was completely flabbergasted. 

What is your three-line pitch for Queen of Fishtown?

Kathleen Burke's not that mad that her Fishtown, Philadelphia neighborhood has gentrified around her, but when she gets the surprise of her life at her 40th birthday party it triggers a high stakes battle to maintain her authenticity while facing even more inevitable change. Profound and profane, Queen of Fishtown is a love letter to the historically overlooked and unappreciated city of brotherly love and working class women everywhere.

Interview: Groundlings Alumni Katierose Donohue Enriquez Is The QUEEN OF FISHTOWN (That’s actually only two sentences but they’re long!) 

If you were to submit your character Kathleen Burke on a dating site, what qualities of hers would you list?

Kathleen is married, BUT as an exercise, if she was to make a dating l profile, I think she would tout that “after two babies, she can still touch her toes.” She likes to have fun on a date, “a couple of vodka sodas, and some good tunes is really all it takes.”

What flaws would you definitely leave out?

Kathleen is riddled with Catholic Guilt and yet, she has no shame. She is incapable of hiding her flaws.

What aspects of your fellow Groundling alumni Corey Podell and Lynne Marie Stewart made you choose them to be your director and producer, respectively?

Corey Podell is an incredible director. I love her very much. She has a sense of FUN and play when creating and a barometer for honestly that I trust completely. Corey and I met in our Groundlings level one class taught by Margee Magee in 2006. Since then, we’ve created three different sketch groups, worked together in Sunday company, numerous comedy videos, short films and television series. The very moment I had the notion to create this solo show I called Corey and pitched her the idea. To be completely honest, if Corey hadn’t said yes to direct — this show would not exist.

Lynne Marie Stewart saw the show last spring when the Little Fish Theater (they have been saved and are moving to Redondo Beach! Yay!) invited me to perform for a weekend. She loved the show! Since then, Lynne has been incredibly supportive and when she offered to produce me at the Groundlings, I wasn’t sure - the main stage isn’t the right space, because it is elevated and I interact with the audience a lot but Lynne pressed on— she suggested the new Gary Austin Stage that Groundlings built across Melrose Ave. It’s perfect! Of course, she knew exactly the solve, she is an absolute superstar. I was obsessed with PeeWee’s Playhouse as a kid. My cousin and I had VHS tapes of episodes we had recorded off the TV that we literally wore out. (The Christmas Special was our favorite.) The idea that Lynne “Miss Yvonne” herself wants to champion my voice, AND at the place where the late, great Paul Reubens created Pee-wee is just dreams on dreams on dreams.

You’re an actor, writer, director and comedian. What did you want to be growing up?

Interview: Groundlings Alumni Katierose Donohue Enriquez Is The QUEEN OF FISHTOWN Funny, you should ask! When I saw Billy Elliott on Broadway. I was in my mid-30s and the kid that played Billy was absolutely astounding! A mega talent. And as I rose to my feet for the standing ovation, I realized I would never achieve my childhood dreams because in that moment realized I didn’t want to be an actor since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a child star! It was quite the epiphany. Lol! 

Which gives you greater gratification: standing in the wings hearing the cast you directed or speak your words get their deserved applause? Or taking your own bows at curtain call or at the end of your comedy set?

Oh! Great question! When I was in my 20s I would feel jealous when a cast I directed received accolades and I thought that meant I only wanted to be an actor. But, as a full-fledged adult, I’ve got to admit that directing is a positive, cup-filling, creative endeavor that FEELS REALLY NICE. 

Whereas every time I perform I still get nervous. That terror never goes away. But, I have to look that fear in the face. I just gotta! 

The more I focus back on my theater roots the less I am interested in being onstage as a comedian. It’s all hard, but that one is hardest, with the least payback (for me personally.) 

Will you still be touring with Queen of Fishtown? Or are you ready to create a new show?

I would love to tour with Queen of Fishtown. I love doing the show and despite how much I have gotten to do it I feel like I’ve only really scratched the surface. I have no idea how to get regional theaters to bring my little show to their little black boxes, But I sure would love to take Kathleen to them. Currently, I’m not writing another solo show, but I am writing the book for a new musical with composer, Jason Currie. 

What else is in the future for Katierose Donohue Enriquez?

Currently, I am enjoying directing two starkly different pieces: Comedian Stacie Burrows’ Edinburgh Fringe bound, solo musical Laughable and a southern ensemble drama, Hurricane Kate by Scott Golden, both shows will be workshopping in the Hollywood Fringe Festival this June. I am so thankful for fringe festivals (if you are doing it right- ain’t nobody making any money at a fringe, but my goodness does the joy overfloweth!) So, so, so thankful. 

Thank you again, Katierose! I look forward to meeting your Kathleen Burke.

Thank you! It’s gonna be great! 

For tickets to the live performances of Queen of Fishtown through April 14, 2024; click on the button below:


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