By George Basler
Growing up, Pat Foti was a big fan of The Addams Family television show of the early 1960s. “They were people who were not normal but thought they were. I related to that,” said the artistic director at the Endicott Performing Arts Center (EPAC).
The show always made him laugh, Foti said. He wasn’t alone. Whether it was the original cartoons by Charles Addams, the TV show or the subsequent movies, the bizarre, but endearing, family has captivated generations of fans.
This coming weekend, the “family” will take up residence in Endicott when the EPAC Repertory Company presents the musical comedy The Addams Family. The show, with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and book by Marshall Brickman and Rich Elice, was a hit on Broadway and has continued to be successful in national tours and overseas productions.
“It’s a very popular show,” said Foti, who is directing the production, which opens Thursday (Nov. 9). The success is no mystery, he added, noting: “The music is great, and it’s funnier than hell.”
All of the Addams Family characters share the spotlight in the show, but the plot centers on Wednesday falling in love with a “normal” boy, Lucas. When her family invites his family over for dinner, well, you can imagine what happens. There are also dance numbers in which deceased Addamses get to kick up their heels.
The show is more funny than creepy with “a lot of funny lines,” Foti said.
The cast includes performers who have appeared in other EPAC productions. Gomez is being played by Dustin VanTassel. Adriana Kabat plays Morticia. Grandma is Paula Bacorn. Wednesday is Alex VanTassel (who is Dustin’s daughter in real life), Kyle Whitman is Pugsley, Joe Bergeron is Lurch, Josh Wilburn is Uncle Fester and Peyton Smith is Lucas.
“I kind of get into my weirdest head space and see what happens,” Wilburn said about playing the Uncle Fester character.
The challenge of doing the musical is respecting the whole mythology of the Addams Family, and people’s perceptions of the characters, while presenting a show that is different from what audiences have seen before, he added.
Wilburn is also a fan of the Addams Family and calls Uncle Fester a fun character to play. “You get to come on to the stage, do something weird and get off,” he said. Wilburn also appreciates the show’s message that “you can be as strong and unique as you are and be accepted.”
Foti said he is working to capture how the TV series felt to him when he watched it all those years ago. “The family is so different from the average American family. They thought they were normal, and everybody else was not normal,” he said. And that’s what provides the comedy.
IF YOU GO: The Endicott Performing Arts Center will present
The Addams Family, a musical comedy, Nov. 9-12 at EPAC’s Robert Eckert Theater, 102 Washington Ave., Endicott. Thursday-Saturday performances are at 8 p.m. Sunday’s performance is at 3 p.m. Tickets at $25 ($23 for children and seniors) are available at http://www.endicottarts.com or the door.