They may be creepy and kooky on TV and in the movies, but what is The Addams Family like on stage? Daughter Wednesday (played by Cortney Wolfson) said they’re surprisingly funny and completely original.
Wolfson, who heads to the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts for the show’s opening on Tuesday, is fresh off the Broadway production of The Addams Family musical and said and said it’s been amazing to be part of the national tour.
Before donning the pale white skin and jet black wig, Wolfson starred in the Legally Blonde musical’s first national tour as sorority alum and fitness instructor Brooke Wyndham — quite the polar opposite to her dark and gloomy role of Wednesday.
But Wolfson said the character’s not exactly what you might remember from the TV or movie family. She explained why — and talked about her return visit to the Twin Cities — in a fun little chat before the show’s opening night.
Q: What were your memories, or introductions to The Addams Family before you signed on for this part?
A: My history started in the ’90s when the movie came out. I was just at the right age to be a fan of Christina Ricci, or be close in age in real-life. I was a huge fan. And then, as I grew up, I wasn’t actually familiar with the TV show until I did the show on Broadway. We also had this book floating around of all the original sketches and this amazing book of all the cartoons, which was on the dresser so I’d look at those. And since then I’d watch the TV show and what not. My original Addams Family fandom came from the movies.
Q: When you heard about the musical, what were your thoughts?
A: I was excited because the story is completely unique. I think people come wondering if it’s going to be the same storyline or a continuation of the TV show or movies. But story’s 100 percent unique and I actually did a reading of it, it was actually like a workshop of it in the very, very beginning stages almost five years ago, I think, and when I was cast in that I was super excited just because of my familiarity with it, I thought, it was going to be great. And it turned out to be exactly what we wanted.
Q: So a lot of people are maybe wondering — The Addams Family plus a musical. Does that work?
A: Definitely. Most of the audiences probably know that Gomez is Latin, and so there’s a lot of flamenco and it really lends itself toward that and there’s a great tango at the end and a lot of this beautiful flamenco music. And then, also it’s such a contemporary musical and the composer/lyricist Andrew Lippa is such a contemporary writer so there’s a lot of great pop music in it, like most of the stuff that I sing is all contemporary music theater — you could hear it on a radio, pop-wise. But I think what people don’t normally know is that it’s a comedy — and it’s really, really funny. The music is all very clever and the writing and the lyrics just really lend itself towards that. It’s just like hilarious music theater. I think when a lot of people see Addams Family, they think ‘Oh, dark and spooky,’ but it’s actually this huge comedy.
Q: So looking at your bio, you were involved in the first national tour of Legally Blonde: The Musical.
A: Yes! We came through St. Paul.
Q: Oh awesome, that’s right. Well, I was going to say, I can’t really think of anyone that might be more of an opposite to Wednesday than Brooke Wyndham.
A: I know. I think when I came through St. Paul, I played Sarina who was a cheerleader and then I actually played Brooke Wyndham on tour later on, so yeah, I played both. Brooke Wyndham is like the exact opposite of Wednesday — hair color and all.
Q: Right, totally. So has it been difficult at all to transition to a polar opposite role?
A: You know, I think I actually fit somewhere in real life between the two of them. I’m not quite the Delta Nu blonde but not quite the dreary and dark Wednesday. But one of the fun things with this role, too, is that when it comes to the show the big crisis that happens at the beginning is that Wednesday is engaged to this boy — this normal guy from Ohio. And one of her problems as a character is that since she’s in love, she’s starting to feel all of these things she didn’t feel before, where she used to run around in the woods and shoot geese with a crossbow, now she’s thinking about bunny rabbits and the color pink and wearing yellow dresses. It’s kind of fun because you see her transition into more of the stereotypical, you know, teenager that’s falling in love. So it’s fun because she becomes a little bit of a more normal person as the show goes along, too.
Q: Was that the last time you were in Minnesota, with the Legally Blonde tour?
A: That was the last time that I was there, yeah. And actually my best friend since I was 11 years old now lives in St. Paul so I’m anxious to get there and see her and two kids actually that I went to high school with, because I’m from the Midwest. I grew up in Indiana, went to college in Michigan so we’re so happy to be in the Midwest, I love it. And I’ll head to Mall of America, obviously. I spent so much money the last time I was in St. Paul, oh my gosh, I came back broke after being there. I can’t wait to be back.
Q: Do you have any rituals that you do before each show?
A: I have a handshake with my brother Pugsley that we have to do before every show starts, every single night. If we don’t do it, we can’t start the show. (laughs)
Q: Awesome. So how have audiences been reacting to the show?
A: They’ve loved it. We have been so happy on tour. The show takes place, where the Addams family lives in the middle of New York. I have done this show in New York and know how audiences there react to the jokes but we have been so thrilled by the audience reaction. I think it’s just so relate-able. People come and they already love the characters, everyone knows who the Addams family is. But when they leave, they end up finding out they’re seemingly normal, or abnormal, and everyone can relate to them. I don’t think that they know that when they’re first going to the show. And every single night, people are on their feet. We’ve been so lucky. It’s so fun for us because when the audience loves it, it just makes our job 100 times easier. We have a blast.
The Addams Family Musical opens Tuesday and runs through May 20 at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts. Tickets are available at www.ordway.org.