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New ‘Addams Family’ Broadway musical testing out in Chicago in 2009


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Happy Halloween and happy 4-year anniversary to this daily offBeat entertainment column!

It debuted this week in 2004 and I’m sure many readers might have viewed it as both a “trick” and “treat.”

Thank you to everyone who reads this column, because I certainly enjoy writing it and I hope you find it as enjoyable to read.

This column has moved around some during these years, from being located up front in the news section to moved to back of the newspaper in the features sections.

But readers always find me. Thank you for looking for me each day.

Ironically, four years this week, my first column talked about the “upcoming presidential election” and how the outspoken views of ketchup heiress Teresa Heinz Kerry were viewed to be “less than favorable” by members of the Democratic party.

Another item that ran lower in my column commented that: “The late spooky cartoonist Charles Addams who created “The Addams Family” would love the trick-or-treat address that belongs to Valparaiso University President Alan Harre and his wife Diane. They live at 3900 Hemlock Drive in Valparaiso.”

How appropriate that today’s column would happen to also be about Addams and his creepy family from comic strip fame.

And so, on to the start of year No. 5 …

Snap your fingers

It was way back in August when I reported in this column that “Daily Variety” has confirmed that cartoonist Charles Addams‘ ghoulish group “The Addams Family” are heading to New York and the Broadway stage.

Well, here’s some great news.

Broadway In Chicago officials say they are “thrilled to host” the pre-Broadway world premiere of “The Addams Family,” a new musical based on this bizarre and beloved family of characters created by legendary cartoonist Addams, who died in 1988. 

Performances will begin next year, on Friday (November) the 13th, at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre and continue for a short two month run in the Windy City through Jan. 10, 2010.

What was once a popular late 1950s cartoon strip by Addams in “The New Yorker” magazine became a 1964 television series starring John Astin, Carolyn Jones, Jackie Coogan and Ted Cassidy until it was cancelled in 1966.

There was also a short-lived Saturday morning cartoon show that was cancelled in 1975 (and re-invented and resurrected in the 1990s) before the family seemed destined for eternal deep sleep until, in 1991, a big-screen version by Paramount Studios with Anjelica Huston cast as Morticia and Raul Julia as Gomez and Christina Ricci as spooky youngest Addams’ daughter Wednesday.

I haven’t been given any “official casting,” but as I’ve mentioned in earlier columns, “Daily Variety” reports that actor Nathan Lane has already read as Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia during a “closed readings” of a rough outline of the Broadway project, which will be a musical with scare, er um, score by Andrew Lippa and the book by the same team that did “Jersey Boys,” Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice.

“Daily Variety” reports Lane is already attached to play the Tom Hanks role in the stage musical adaptation of the 2002 film “Catch Me if You Can,” which is hampering his chances to take on the Gomez roll.

Thursday’s announcement from Broadway In Chicago emphasized that this new musical is based on the cartoons of Addams, not the subsequent films or television series.

“It’s an extraordinary privilege as well as a daunting responsibility being entrusted with Charles Addams’ most beloved creations, but I’m confident this outstanding creative team is re-imagining the work in a way that would have made Charlie proud,” said producer Stuart Oken of Elephant Eye Theatrical.

Tickets are now available to groups of 20 or more by calling (312) 977-1710. 

“The Addams Family” will be a part of the Broadway In Chicago Season Series.