Broadway Features and Reviews
Broadway Meets Charles Addams
By By Shane R. Toogood, Broadway Magazine
Charles Addams. Welcome him into your hearts or he'll tear his way through.
There's a monsoon outside. From the window, a melancholy family watches as a leafless trees shivers, nearly ripping its roots from the muddy ground. Father curls up on the pillows while Mother leans against the wall.
The children are in the middle: The hefty son leans against the glass pane while the daughter grasps the leash to her pet-a cross between an armadillo and a gator.
As the words scribed beneath the cartoon says: it's "Just the kind of day that makes you feel good to be alive!"
When the cartoons about the zany, melancholy family were published in The New Yorker starting in 1938, cartoonist Charles Addams never named the characters. It wasn't until 1964 when David Levy got the green light for the T.V. series that The Addams Family characters were developed.
Since then, Morticia, Gomez, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandmama, Uncle Fester, Thing, Lurch and Cousin Itt have repeatedly struck our hearts (with flaming arrows, that is).
Mr. Addams, dubbed the "Van Gogh of Ghouls," is best remembered for his eccentric and often morbid one-panel cartoons. Yet, contrary to his madcap drawings, the New Jersey native collected classic cars, loved children and was quite the womanizer.
One biographer said that Mr. Addams was "a well-dressed, courtly man with silvery back-combed hair and a gentle manner; he bore no resemblance to a fiend."
"Are people ever disappointed when they meet you?" A reporter asked Mr. Addams during an interview.
With such grace and confection like that of his art, he replied: "I suppose they are. Aren't you?" That's because Mr. Addams could often be complex with his offbeat humor.
He often said that he thought of himself as the inventive and electrical Uncle Fester as he found much pleasure in such bizarre situations such as visiting burial grounds and even marrying his third wife in a pet cemetery.
As a full-time artist linked to The New Yorker-where his first cartoon was published at 21- Mr. Addams' work was put on display in an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has been calculated that the college dropout birthed at least 1300 cartoons in his life.
After his death in 1988, a picture of the Addams Family standing somber over his grave was printed with the body of Mr. Addams crawling out of the other side.
Although the macabre family has been off the page since Mr. Addams' death, they have since become a piece of Americana generating two Saturday morning cartoons in 1973 and 1992, a live-action T.V. show, three movies, six video games and even an M&Ms commercial.
Now the family will snap their way to Broadway next year in The Addams Family starring Nathan Lane playing the suave Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as "son cheri:" the sensational and seductive Morticia.
With a book by Jersey Boys writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, and lyrics/music by Drama Desk-winner Andrew Lippa (The Wild Party), previews begin in March 2010 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.