A Hanging Fit for "The Addams Family": Art of Charles Addams Gets NYC Museum Exhibit

News   A Hanging Fit for "The Addams Family": Art of Charles Addams Gets NYC Museum Exhibit
"Charles Addams's New York," an exhibit featuring more than 80 of the artist's drawings, cartoons, watercolors and pencil sketches — many of which served as inspiration for the upcoming musical The Addams Family — runs March 4-May 16 at The Museum of the City of New York.

Addams (1912-1988) is best known as the creator of the macabre single-panel cartoon family that bears his name. The eponymous musical, starring two-time Tony Award winners Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, begins previews March 8 and opens April 8 at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

The charmingly morbid Addams Family began life in The New Yorker magazine, where Addams had his first cartoon published in 1933. The Addams Family started as a series of single-panel cartoons published between 1938 and Charles Addams' death at the age of 76. Before making their way to the Broadway stage, The Addams Family had been seen in a prime-time television sitcom, a television cartoon series and several feature films.

The Charles Addams Foundation gave Playbill.com an exclusive peek at some of the pieces in the MCNY exhibit:


In the Broadway incarnation, Neuwirth and Lane star as Morticia and Gomez, respectively, the amorous parents of the Addams family. They are joined onstage by two-time Tony Award nominee Terrence Mann as Mal Beineke, two-time Tony Award nominee Carolee Carmello as Alice Beineke, two-time Tony Award nominee Kevin Chamberlin as Uncle Fester, Jackie Hoffman as Grandma, Zachary James as Lurch, Adam Riegler as Pugsley, Wesley Taylor as Lucas Beineke and Krysta Rodriguez as Wednesday. (The plot involves Wednesday falling in love with a "normal" boy, Lucas.) Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch direct the Andrew Lippa-scored musical, with a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice (Jersey Boys). Four-time Tony Award-winning director Jerry Zaks serves as a creative consultant for the show.

Though certainly his most famous creation, The Addams Family was a small part of Charles Addams' body of work, according to MCNY notes. Of the 3,000 pictures he made in his lifetime, only about 250 portray the ghoulish household. He was a New York City-based artist, and much of his work features the city and its denizens, filtered through the lens of a cartoonist with a mischievously dark sense of humor. Society matrons, faceless businessmen and paranoid apartment-dwellers, even New York subways and landmarks all became grist for Addams' grisly mill.

The Museum of the City of New York had a long-standing relationship with Addams throughout his life, and given his fascination with the city's characters and environs, the marriage was a natural one. In 1956, the museum mounted the artist's first solo show, and in the early 1960s he donated 72 original drawings to the museum's collection.

"Charles Addams's New York" is curated by Sarah Henry, chief curator of the Museum of the City of New York, with the assistance of Kevin Miserocchi, executive director of the Tee and Charles Addams Foundation.

The Museum of the City of New York is located at 1220 5th Avenue at 103rd Street.

For more information, visit www.mcny.org or www.charlesaddams.com.

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