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Everyone’s favorite creepy, kooky, altogether ooky family has experienced a renaissance in recent years. The Addams Family is brought back to life in two modern animated movies, an upcoming Netflix original series and, of course, The Addams Family: A New Musical, which opens at the Dock Street Theatre Oct. 19.

The play originally opened on Broadway in 2010 and starred Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth as Gomez and Morticia. The show was a smash hit, grossing millions and racking up a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Drama League Award and two Tony Award nominations. But despite its success, the show received mostly negative reviews, including from Charleston Stage’s artistic director designee Marybeth Clark.

“I wasn’t super impressed with Addams Family when it was on Broadway,” said Clark, who also directs the production at Charleston Stage. “But they redid it for the tour and they cleaned it up. It’s a lot tighter and I think it plays a lot better.” The revised version of The Addams Family: A New Musical enjoyed a successful tour starting in 2011, including a stop at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center in 2014.

For the uninitiated, the Addams Family was created by Charles Addams in 1938. They originally appeared in single-panel cartoons and became a successful television series, most notably in the 1960s, and two very popular 1990s live action films. The Addams are wealthy aristocrats who love all things macabre and delight in the frightening and weird.

A New Musical tells an original story featuring the titular family. Wednesday Addams, who serves as the basis for many Addams stories including the upcoming Netflix adaptation, has fallen in love with a normal boy. She tells her father Gomez, who must try to keep it a secret from his wife Morticia while entertaining a “normal” family at the Addams estate. Hilarity ensues.

The original stage production kept the production design minimal, but Clark and her team of designers chose to go in a different direction. “The music is surprisingly complicated,” she said. “It’s kind of old-school musical theater with lots of

parts, and they tended to just have people standing downstage singing without that many sets. And our designers are really into the sets. So we have a lot more visual interest in this.”
Charleston Stage scenic designer Adam Jehle, in a press release, spoke of his intentions for the show’s design: “My hope is for audiences to leave having seen a fresh take on this American classic. Our ‘design mantra’ for the show has been the phrase ‘Everything is not as it seems.’ Be sure to take a good look at the set in each scene, because that very well may be true.”

Clark promises lots of surprises in the design. Gravestones that feature jokes and oddball designs. Even the appearance of certain characters that the show omits. Some iconic characters of the Addams Family, most notably Cousin It and Thing, are absent from the script, but Clark is working to find ways to include them.

“I believe that they need to be there in some way,” Clark said about the show’s more infamous omissions. “I’m looking for ways to make sure that Addams Family purists have a moment where they go, ‘Oh!’”

The cast of 22 includes actors from all of Charleston Stage’s various acting pools and features resident actors Cedar Valdez as Gomez Addams, Eliza Knode as Morticia Addams, Jenna Barricklo as Wednesday Addams and Raymond Cronley as Lucas Beineke. Acting ensemble member and Best Of Charleston 2022 award-winning actor Colin Waters plays Uncle Fester. The cast includes local guest actors and contracted Charleston Stage players of all ages and experience levels.

“Most shows, we have a combination of that: someone who’s doing their first show, someone who’s doing their 20th show,” Clark said. “And this show is no different.” As fate would have it, Eliza Knode is making her debut at Charleston Stage, while Colin Waters is doing his 20th show with Charleston Stage.

“To be playing Morticia, which is a very iconic role, is really exciting for me,” Knode said. Knode was familiar with the musical from her youth as she performed songs from the show as a high school student.

Waters views playing Uncle Fester as a tremendous opportunity. “It’s so interesting seeing the way he’s almost foiling a lot of other members of the family,” he said. “There is just such a grandiose nature of the scale of the show itself. But the music especially. There are parts where it’s broken down to eight or nine parts of split music happening at the same time. When it’s all put together it hits you like a train coming at ya.”

Knode added, “There’s a different Addams Family for each generation.” The Addams Family: A New Musical should serve each of those generations, from the youngest family members to the most seasoned musical theater aficionado.

The Addams Family: A New Musical will play at the Dock Street Theatre Oct. 19-Nov. 6.


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Stay cool. Support City Paper.

City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.