Q&A: Kate Donadio MacQueen on playing Maggie the Cat, directed by her dad

Atlanta actress Kate Donadio MacQueen speaks about playing one of Tennessee Williams’ sultriest characters under the direction of her father 

by Andrew Alexander
September 11, 2019

Sex-starved, slip-wearing Maggie the Cat is one of Tennessee Williams’ most iconic characters, and she’s also the one most actresses can’t wait to sink their claws into. 

The upcoming production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Georgia Ensemble Theatre represents some significant firsts: it’s Atlanta actress Kate Donadio MacQueen’s first time playing the steamy role of Maggie. And we’re also reasonably certain that it’s the first time a father and daughter have teamed up on a production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as director and lead.

Her father, Atlanta actor and director James Donadio, directs.

The Alexander Report caught up with MacQueen to make sure she was surviving the Oedipal implications and complications intact. We’re glad to report back she seems fine.

James Donadio directs his daughter Kate Donadio MacQueen in a rehearsal of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The show opens September 12 at Georgia Ensemble Theatre.

Many actresses have played Maggie the Cat, but I imagine you’re the very first to be directed by her dad in the role. How’s that been so far?

Kate Donadio MacQueen: It was a little nerve-wracking at first. Nobody wants to be less than perfect in front of their father. But he’s so smart and so sensitive. Having a rapport with somebody for your whole life makes things easier. I’ve always looked up to my father. He’s an amazing director and actor.  I trust him and his eye. The fact that he’s trusted with me with such a powerful role speaks volumes.

Still, it must be strange.

MacQueen: It can get a little awkward every once in a while when he’s like: “Be a little sexier with that. Rub more ice on your neck….” Okay… That’s weird to hear from you… But I know what he’s going for.

Did you have to audition for your dad?

MacQueen: I didn’t. He’s followed my work for a pretty long time. He’s seen everything I’ve done. I guess he thought I was up to it.

What was it like growing up with an actor-director father? I imagine it inspired your own choice to become an actress.

MacQueen: My entire family are all actors and directors. My mother, my father, my stepmother, my stepfather. My grandfather was a director for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. He helped get the Oregon Shakespeare Festival on the map long ago … I have it all over. For me, it was just normal. I grew up around funny, strange people. I was in and out of lots of rehearsal rooms. I always feel comfortable there since I spent so much time in them. My parents begged me my whole life not to be an actor. I think they knew how difficult a road it would be. They worried about me. But I don’t know, I guess it always felt like home to me. I did try to do other things, but I always came back to theater. It’s always been where I’ve felt the most “me.”

When you were growing up, did you see family members perform Tennessee Williams? Did anyone in your family play Maggie?

MacQueen: I was in Suddenly, Last Summer with my stepmother [Shannon Eubanks] at Actor’s Express. It was awesome getting to work with her. But I don’t think I’ve seen any of my other family members in Williams before.

You have kids of your own now?

MacQueen: I have a six-year-old who is in first grade. He’s adorable. He wants to play Brick one day. I was like, “It’s nice you want to run lines with mommy, but it’s a little weird…” And my husband has a 13-year-old. We’ve got quite a household. I’m surrounded by boys.

So your dad is directing and your six-year-old is running lines with you as Brick?! I love it! Does your son want to be an actor one day?

MacQueen: I hope not for his sake because I also understand how hard it is. But of course I’ll support whatever he wants to do. I love that he’s interested in visiting me at the theater and being back stage. I love that he wants to be a part of it, too. And anytime there’s an opening for Brick, he’s ready to go.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opens September 12 at Georgia Ensemble Theatre.