Learn a little more about Broadway's most sweetest mom and why she sometimes where jeans underneath her costume!
Emily Padgett prepares for Mrs. Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Broadway
I've seen Emily play many roles on stage. She's a shape shifter going from one of two conjoined twins (Side Show) to dancer at the Fandango Ballroom (Sweet Charity) to a 1940's journalist (Bright Star). She does it all no matter how big or small the part.
Emily came to the theatre after an excursion trying to park her SUV in NYC. Three letter acronyms that don't normally mix. Finally at the theatre, we went in and climbed up the stairs to her gorgeous dressing room.
"This used to be Jackie [Hoffman's] dressing room during The Addam's Family," Emily informed me.
The space was beautiful. Big, billowy curtains maintained privacy, but kept the light from 46th street shining into the room. The red carpet was inviting. It is a space worth having.
"My process is simple," she says. "I start with my eyebrows... I don't know why, I just do." And so she does her make up. Simple, fresh, and clean.
"Because I started as a chorus girl, I'm just so used to doing my own pin curls," she said.
"Screw your BFA," I said. "If you want to work on Broadway, you have to know have to do your own pin curls!"
"It's a right of passage!" she agreed. And within a minute, she was done with her pin curls. If you don't know what pin curls are, they are the way hair is wrapped and pinned under a wig cap, which goes under the wig. It's the cleanest, most efficient way to pack away all your hair in preparation for your wig application.
She discovers a new cast album on her station. Coincidentally, she looked like a kid in a candy shop as she unwrapped it.
"It's always so exciting to get a cast album. This is how I learned what Broadway was." Her first cast album was the 2007 revival of Grease. Since then she has recorded three more albums.
She studied it. The room fell silent for a little bit.
"Ooh! And they have the lyrics! It's like older cast albums!"
I took this opportunity to ask her about Mrs. Bucket, a character with many different representations throughout the years. Diana Sowle's performance in the 1971 movie is very different than that of Helena Bonham Carter's in the 2005 version.
"Mrs. Bucket represents all the moms. I have three sisters, who have multiple kids, so this is for them. She shuffles a lot, never stops moving. She works hard all day and then comes home trying to keep her family alive. Even though their severely poor, she still has all the emotions of moms universally. Her fear is that she's the worst mother in the world. I was talking to my sister about kids and she said their like aliens coming into your world and you have to teach them your ways! I totally agree."
"How is your relationship with your Charlie's?" I ask.
"We have good relationships. I have to be careful because, you know, I don't want to seem like I favor one over the other." she responds.
"Do you ever find yourself becoming a mother to them in anyway?"
"It's important that I treat them like adults - I don't talk down to them. It's also important to keep boundaries, but I do check in with them. It's so interesting to watch them work; grow up. During rehearsals and previews I would see them respond to cut material. They would ask, "You mean I don't get to sing that anymore?" And it's like... innocence lost. But they become better people and stronger performers. They are little professionals."
She's done with her make up.
"I'm the only girl in the cast without false eyelashes!"
We have some down time before Jeanette, her wig supervisor, comes in.
"Because you've had such an eclectic career creating new work, do you have a dream role?" I ask.
"You know... no. It's more about who I work with. I've taken jobs based on the teams, not about the roles I've done. To work with Walter Bobbie, Leigh Silverman... you can't beat that."
"Tell me about your relationship with your fans."
"Hmm... you know... it's been interesting. I don't do the stage door and I get some negative response for that online."
"You don't do the stage door?" I ask.
"No," she responds. "I miss my train! I have to leave on time."
This conversation comes in a very timely fashion. Fans, albeit with good intentions, have been a bit demanding at the stage door recently. They have to be easier on the actor, who has to take care of themselves. They are not obligated to sign Playbills.
"Sometimes, it cuts it so close that I have to underdress in my street clothes to change faster!"
That's juicy and I love that.