Jan. 25 2012 12:00 AM

Morticia gets in touch with her inner diva in the 'Addams Family' musical


One of America’s most macabre clans gets a musical makeover in “The Addams Family.” Based on Charles Addams’ original one-panel cartoons from The New Yorker, the show promises to be a family-friendly take on the darker side of life. 

Sara Gettelfinger, who plays Morticia Addams, says the script plays up the morbid humor in the family’s relationships, tendencies, activities and connections to the outside world that has made the franchise so popular since the comics debuted in the 1930s. Addams’ creation inspired a long-running sitcom, several animated cartoons, three movies (including 1991´s “The Addams Family” and 1993´s “Addams Family Values”) and now a musical comedy, which played 725 performances on Broadway. 

Although it’s based on the Broadway musical, the national tour takes a slightly different approach. Gettelfinger says that the creators “went back to the drawing board for touring to add a conflict,” in the form of a major secret between Wednesday, the teenaged daughter of the family, and mother Morticia. 

Chicago Sun-Times theater critic Hedy Weiss noted the musical “has been quite radically reworked and ideally cast. And in the process, the show has finally found its true self. The show is far more involving, far funnier, far more charming, far sexier and far more focused on Morticia and Gomez.”

Weiss called Gettelfinger “statuesque,” adding that she “easily suggests her character’s heat and humor.”

“When I was a kid,” Gettelfinger says, “I watched the TV show regularly. I was also a big fan of the movies.” After taking on the role of Morticia, she familiarized herself with the cartoons as well. Since the musical draws mostly from Addams’ illustrations, Gettelfinger says that she “most directly associates with the comics from the 1930s” in developing her interpretation of Morticia.

The cast includes Douglas Sills as Gomez, Cortney Wolfson as Wednesday, Blake Hammond as Uncle Fester, Patrick D. Kennedy as Pugsly, Tom Corbeil as Lurch and Pippa Pearthree as Grandma.

Due to the longevity of the franchise, the Addams Family has young fans who encountered it through the films in the 1990s, as well as much older followers who first learned about it from the cartoons. Gettlefinger says that “the show is really designed for the whole family,” and that the production will be a “great way to get kids into the habit of going to the theater.”