Back to her current gig, in "Smokey Joe's Cafe," Fitzgerald goes from sweetly singing and gliding across the stage as a fresh-faced girl-next-door to a more brazen character, wearing black garters, red stilettos and a bustier. She has a confident stage presence and appears very comfortable in her various roles as she nimbly executes complicated dance numbers. She said she works out when not on stage to keep in shape and so her dance career stays intact and has longevity.

"This year, I had my first injury when I tore my hamstring, which took me out for a while. I started running last year and I think that's what caused the injury," Fitzgerald said. "As a dancer, you need to take care of your body and make sure you get lots of rest and work out. I hope to dance for another 10 to 20 years. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't dance."

That's not to say that Fitzgerald does not have a full life outside of dance and the theater. She got married last year to Centennial High graduate Ryan Kelly. The two did not know each other in high school, but met through Fitzgerald's sister.

"He was a couple of years older than me and my sister had been trying to introduce us for a few years, but I was so busy on the road touring," she said. "When we finally met, we fell in love immediately. I found love right under my nose."

Staying grounded

Fitzgerald said that, like her family, her husband keeps her grounded.

"That's why he's such a great match for me, to keep me grounded from the fantasy life I live in," Fitzgerald said. "Plus, he's handsome."

The couple live in Jessup, with Billy Joel, a dog they rescued. Fitzgerald is not on the road as much as in the past, but is doing more local theater work, such as productions at the Kennedy Center and other local theaters.

"After I got married, I didn't book much work, but I did do 'Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum' at the Shakespeare Theatre," she said. "For now, I want to explore what's happening in the local area."

Fitzgerald is also spending more time in Howard County and said living in Jessup makes it easy to get to New York when she needs to. She's also working on a project to videotape and archive the work of Bob Fosse, along with his daughter, Nicole Fosse.

As for her long-term plans for her career, Fitzgerald said she wants to continue working hard on her dancing and voice, talents that she said are "... like a car. You have to keep them tuned up. I do still take dance and voice lessons."

For those who want a career in dance, the music industry or on stage, Fitzgerald's said being committed to working hard is the message she wants to pass along to other aspiring entertainers.

"Sometimes, there's such a yearning for people to want to take a short cut and I've never taken that route," she said. "The path has to be followed with no short cuts. You have to go to school, learn and soak up everything you can. What happens will happen, but you can't fast track it."