The creepy, kooky "Addams Family" dance their dark family dynamics into the Tennessee Theatre May 31-June 1. The musical starring Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Lurch, Pugsley, Uncle Fester and Grandma is the last of the theater's 2012-13 Broadway at the Tennessee series.
The play is inspired not by the 1960s television series but by a series of Charles Addams' cartoons that date to the 1930s. Addams introduced his weird, yet enchanting "Addams Family" in The New Yorker magazine. Those ghoulish cartoons inspired the television shows and 1990s films.
The musical -- which includes the finger-snapping theme song from the TV series -- features the time-tested story of two young people from different worlds who fall in love. A grown-up Wednesday has fallen in love with Lucas, a "normal" young man from a respectable family. She confides in her father Gomez that the two plan to marry, then begs him to keep the relationship a secret from her mother, Morticia. The plot darkens after Wednesday brings Lucas and his parents home for dinner in the Addams' gloomy adobe.
Dallas resident KeLeen Snowgren stars as the beautiful, gloomy Morticia. The lead role of ghoulish mother and wife is a departure for Snowgren. And not only because it's her first lead. She's previously played beautifully-costumed showgirls and small supporting roles in ensembles for productions like "Spamalot" and "Hairspray." She's been playing Morticia since the touring production started in January.
"I have never been nervous on opening night with any other show but when I opened 'Addams Family' my legs were shaking so hard. I always thought when I was in the ensembles that people were always watching me. I knew it wasn't true but I gave it my all. But when I had the spotlight on me, the realization that people were really watching me was slightly terrifying but wonderful."
The role of Morticia also returned the 30-year-old to the stage. Snowgren left the theater for 18 months, to "start the rest of my life" at home in Texas with her family. She shared an apartment in Dallas with her identical twin and got a job in an office. Then casting director Mark Minnick called to see if she just might be interested in auditioning for "The Addams Family" role. After looking at the script and checking that the music fit her "low, sultry" voice, she flew to New York to audition. "It fit so well and I felt so comfortable ... It just seemed the call came at the right moment."
Snowgren's overcome opening night nerves and discovered she and Morticia share a love of family if in very different ways. "She only wants the worst for her family in the most wonderful way," said Snowgren. For in the Addams family world, worst is best.
But the actress said her portrayal of Morticia was helped immensely when director Jerry Zaks early in rehearsals told her that her character was neither "evil nor mean ... She's actually someone who is nice and caring -- with a twist. I was glad because it would be really hard for me to play an evil woman."
Snowgren's favorite song in "The Addams Family" is called "Just Around the Corner." The performance reminds her of past roles in the chorus. "I get to dance with the ensemble and we are all doing the exact same thing at the same moment. It is so familiar and comfortable. That is the moment I can relax and have fun and sing my heart out because everyone is singing with me."
At the Tennessee Theatre, "Addams Family" plays at 8 p.m. May 31 and 2 and 8 p.m. June 1. Tickets range from $37 to $77 before service charges at www.tennesseetheatre.com.
'The Addams Family'
What: Touring musical based on the cartoons/characters that created the popular television show; last show of 2012-13 Broadway at the Tennessee
When: 8 p.m. May 31, 2 and 8 p.m. June 1
Where: Tennessee Theatre, 604 S. Gay St.
Tickets: $37, $52, $67 or $77 before service charges, at Knoxville Tickets, 865-656-4444, or www.tennesseetheatre.com
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