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THE ADDAMS FAMILY

FROM SCREEN TO STAGE

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By Jack Richardson
30th October 2012
If you came of age in the era of bio-exorcists, pined for your own Edward Scissorhands, and worshipped at the alter of Tim Burton, chances are good you wished your family could be just a little... well... spookier. In November of 1991, those macabre munchkins got their wish in ‘The Addams Family’, a motion picture starring the first family of frights.

Helmed by debut director Barry Sonnenfeld (later of ‘Men In Black’ and ‘Wild Wild West’ fame), the film starred Raul Julia as mustachioed patriarch Gomez, Anjelica Huston as scream-queen Morticia, Christopher Lloyd as the ghoulish Uncle Fester, and a young Christina Ricci as the precociously pigtailed Wednesday. Visually striking, appropriately gloomy, and grimly humorous, the film was a smash with audiences. A second film, ‘The Addams Family Values’ followed in 1993, further inspiring teenagers to embrace the devilish delights of black stripes on white.

ADDAMS FAMILY - FREAK PEEK

Of course, the Addams Clan was alive and kicking long before Sonnenfeld’s left-of-centre films introduced them to the kids of the 90s. Hannah-Barbera had produced an animated cartoon series in 1973, based on the iconic sitcom of the 60s (itself responsible for setting the bar for Halloween house decorations, and giving us that enduring finger-snapping theme song).

But before taking over the television airwaves in glorious live-action, the eponymous family was originally conceived in a series of renowned watercolours created by satirical cartoonist, Charles Addams, in 1938. ‘The Addams Family’ were published in ‘The New Yorker’ up until Addams’ death in 1988, appearing in over one hundred and fifty panels of morbid misadventure. It was here that they first brought the world their particularly brand of gallows humor, and embraced the dreary delights of what it is to be an Addams.

But it’s hard to keep a good Addams down, and like their lethargic butler, Lurch, the Clan is poised to rise from the grave again... this time on the Sydney stage in their latest reincarnation, ‘The Addams Family: The Musical’. With music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, and from a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, the musical opened on Broadway in 2010, playing to capacity audiences eager to experience the Family in a flurry of all-singing, all-dancing malevolence. Drawing from the Family’s many interpretations and long history of cross-media reinvention, the creators of the musical drew primarily from the spirit and tone of Charles Addams’ original cartoons, capturing the Family at their playful, albeit morosely macabre, best.

Visually striking, appropriately gloomy, and grimly humorous, the film was a smash with audiences.

In this version, Wednesday Addams is all grown up, and has fallen in love with Lucas Beineke, following a near-fatal crossbow incident in Central Park. What follows is a familial collision as the abnormal Addams’ break bread with the benign Beinekes, and chaos ensues…

Sydney will play host to the show’s Australian debut, featuring a number of renowned and celebrated performers, as well as some exciting up-and-coming stars. John Waters (‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, TV’s ‘Offspring’) will appear as Gomez Addams; Chloe Dallimore (‘The Producers’) as Morticia; Russell Dykstra (TV’s ‘Rake’) as Uncle Fester; and Teagan Wouters (‘Jersey Boys’) as Wednesday.

It’s since been announced that Tony Harvey (‘The Lion King’) will star as Mal Beineke; Katrina Retallick (‘A Little Night Music’) as Alice Beineke; and Tim Maddren (TV’s ‘Hi-5’, ‘Blue Water High’) as Lucas.

‘The Addams Family: The Musical’ will open in Sydney’s Capitol Theatre from March, 2013. Head to www.addamsfamilythemusical.com.au for more details.

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