Broadway Welcomes The Addams Family, Opening April 8
By Kenneth Jones
The Addams Family, the new musical that peels the macabre characters of illustrator Charles Addams off the pages of The New Yorker and gives them a fresh story and new songs, opens on Broadway April 8 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.
It can now be told that the show does include a brief finger-snapping reference to the theme song of the old TV series (the audience joins in, too), but this original show is not specifically drawn from the sitcom.
Previews began March 8, when the mists of a family-plot graveyard parted and out walked Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, each two-time Tony Award winners, as heads-of-household Gomez and Morticia, respectively.
The newly constructed musical comedy about a ghoulish clan that lives by its own rules in a haunted mansion also includes the iconic characters of torture-friendly pre-teen Pugsley (Adam Riegler); the witchy Grandma (played by an ad-libbing Jackie Hoffman); Frankenstein-like butler Lurch (Zachary James); and the lovable zombie-esque Uncle Fester (Kevin Chamberlin).
The Addams Family has a book by Jersey Boys Tony nominees Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman, and music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa (Off-Broadway's The Wild Party.)
Following the fall 2009 world-premiere Chicago tryout of The Addams Family, four-time Tony-winning director Jerry Zaks (Guys and Dolls) joined the show as the creative consultant (his official billing) to work with the entire creative team. Phelim McDermott & Julian Crouch (known for their macabre Shockheaded Peter) designed the costumes and sets, and are the directors of record in the opening-night Playbill.
With the addition of Zaks, the musical has gone through rewrites and sharpening; the opening number, "When You're an Addams," for instance, is new since last fall. The chorus is newly outfitted in monochrome to better reflect their poltergeist nature.
The musical's plot, not based on "Addams Family" TV or film plots of the past, concerns teenage daughter Wednesday (played by In the Heights' Krysta Rodriguez) falling in love with a college kid she meets in Central Park, Lucas Beineke (played by Wesley Taylor). His Ohioan parents, Mal and Alice (played by Terrence Mann and Carolee Carmello), come to dinner at the Addams' manse (on the edge of Central Park, apparently) to meet the family. All Wednesday wants is "One Normal Night," as she sings in Act One.
During the show's out-of-town tryout, Lippa told Playbill.com, "Writing the lyrics has been a great joy, because these characters get to say things that other people don't get to say. There are mentions of certain ailments and certain personality defects, and yet you have to be careful. Ultimately, you don't want to offend anyone. During development, we all probably crossed a line or two trying to sort out that really, really fine Charles Addams line between funny and not funny. That's been a real challenge."
He continued, "Musically, we're writing a musical about a family. We underscored the word family in The Addams Family. And this family is multi-generational. I decided the score was going to represent that notion. The score's very character-based, and each of the characters sings in [his or her] own language. Gomez is represented by Flamenco-style Spanish music; and Wednesday is represented by a certain amount of contemporary pop music; and Uncle Fester is old vaudevillian in our show, and he's sort of the host of our evening, so he speaks in a vaudeville presentation style."
Decca Broadway will record the original cast album of The Addams Family on April 19. The recording will be available in June.
The Addams Family features choreography by Sergio Trujillo (Memphis). Mary-Mitchell Campbell (Broadway's Sweeney Todd, Company) is musical director. Chris Fenwick is the associate conductor.
According to the producers, "In this original story, the famously macabre Addams Family is put to the test when outsiders come to dinner, hurling Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Fester, Grandmama and Lurch headlong into a night that will change the family forever."
The cast also includes Merwin Foard, Jim Borstelmann, Erick Buckley, Colin Cunliffe, Rachel de Benedet, Valerie Fagan, Matthew Gumley, Fred Inkley, Morgan James, Clark Johnsen, Barrett Martin, Jessica Lea Patty, Liz Ramos, Samantha Sturm, Charlie Sutton and Alena Watters.
The Addams Family features lighting design by two-time Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (The Coast of Utopia, Aida), sound design by Acme Sound Partners (Tony nomination for In the Heights) and puppetry by acclaimed Obie Award-winning puppeteer Basil Twist (Arias with a Twist).
The production also features orchestrations by Larry Hochman (Monty Python's Spamalot), dance arrangements by August Eriksmoen (Memphis), hair design by Tom Watson (Wicked), make-up design by Angelina Avallone (The Little Mermaid), special effects design by Greg Meeh (Monty Python's Spamalot) and fight direction by Rick Sordelet (The Lion King).
The Addams Family is produced by Stuart Oken, Roy Furman, Michael Leavitt, Five Cent Productions, Stephen Schuler, Decca Theatricals, Scott M. Delman, Stuart Ditsky, Terry Allen Kramer, Stephanie P. McClelland, James L. Nederlander, Eva Price, Jam Theatricals/Mary Lu Roffe, Pittsburgh CLO/Gutterman-Swinsky, Vivek Tiwary/Gary Kaplan, The Weinstein Company/Clarence, LLC and Adam Zotovich/Tribe Theatricals by special arrangement with Elephant Eye Theatrical.
American cartoonist Charles Addams (1912-88) created several thousand cartoons, sketches and drawings, many of which were published in The New Yorker. He is best known for imagining The Addams Family, drawn and written in "a unique style that combined the twisted, macabre and just plain weird with charm, wit and enchantment." Visit charlesaddams.com. There's also a Charles Addams gallery in the second floor lounge of the Lunt-Fontanne.
The Lunt-Fontanne is at 205 W. 46th Street. For tickets, call (877) 250-2929 or visit www.ticketmaster.com. For more information visit www.theaddamsfamilymusical.com.
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