Ties that bind ‘Addams Family’ staying strong: Touring Broadway musical to haunt Penn State’s Eisenhower Auditorium

For the CDTFebruary 8, 2013 

The Addams family may not be America’s official first family, but they are certainly one of the country’s most popular and definitely the most bizarre. If that sort of delightful dysfunction whets your paranormal palette, then you may want to see the macabre mayhem that is “The Addams Family: The Broadway Musical.”

Having first opened on Broadway in April 2010 with Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth as the heads of the family, the production has since trekked the globe with stints in Brazil, Argentina and Australia. Now, as part of the American tour, a brand new cast will carry on the terrifyingly funny tradition that has touched ticket-holders since its premiere.

“The audience can expect to come in and laugh the whole way through,” said Jennifer Fogarty, who plays the original goth-girl, daughter Wednesday, “They can also expect to relate to the Addams family even though they seem very different. The storyline is extremely relatable to every father’s nightmare of his daughter falling in love.”

A string of songs gives this musical the unique characteristics that mirror their subject matter.

“The script is incredible and it’s really so much fun,” Fogarty said, “It’s funny, it’s charming and the music is brilliant. There’s a lot of different genres within the show and each song actually relates to a character. For instance, Gomez will sing more of a tango song to attribute to his Latin roots.”

Just about every generation has its own recollection of the clan that inhabits the Victorian mansion at 0001 Cemetery Lane. Whether it was the original cartoons that creator Charles Addams sketched and published in “The New Yorker” for more than 50 years, the camp of the 1960s TV series or the darkly comedic re-boot that saw three films released in the 1990s, there are various interpretations of the Addams family.

Perhaps most fascinating to those of us in Centre County is State College’s direct link to the work of Charles Addams. That association with the Addams family stems from “An Addams Family Holiday,” an original mural painted by Addams himself that hangs on the ground floor of the West Pattee Library.

“In 1952 Charles Addams was commissioned by the Westhampton Beach Hotel to create a painting of the family taking a seaside holiday and for years it hung in their main lobby, but was taken down when the hotel was sold,” said Catherine Grigor, manager of libraries publications and public relations at the Pattee/Paterno Library. “After purchasing the hotel, Walter and Doris Goldstein discovered the work of art and donated it to the Palmer Museum of Art in late 1990.”

After a few years of touching it up and assessing where the painting should reside, it was determined in August 1993 that the University Libraries would agree to take ownership of the mural.

The 2000 renovations and additions to the library provided the perfect opportunity to relocate “An Addams Family Holiday” from the lending services area to its spot in West Pattee, where everybody who steps foot in the library is able to gaze upon this charmingly chaotic oil painting.

Like all great art, “The Addams Family: The Broadway Musical” is constantly evolving. While the tour draws a lot of its content from the Broadway production, it also has added some of its own flavor.

“We did some tweaking after the Broadway production closed with the first tour that went out, and there were some changes that were made, but overall it’s the same show and similar storyline with a few extra numbers in there,” Fogarty said.

In the end, it all comes back to family. It doesn’t matter how peculiar, perplexing or just flat-out strange that family is, that sense of familial love and companionship that interests fans.

“I think that people are drawn to how relatable they are,” Fogarty said of the longevity of the Addams clan. “The family experiences a lot of change ... and people can relate to that.”

“The Addams Family: The Broadway Musical” will start at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14 at Eisenhower Auditorium, University Park. Call 800-ARTS-TIX or visit www.cpa.psu.edu for more information.

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