Moving further toward the darkness in Part II of TheatreBloom’s 3-part family interview series with the Kensington Arts Theatre’s projection of The Addams Family, we meet The Addam as only we can meet them! Representing the “dead” in the trio of “Living…dead…and undecided…” Morticia, Gomez, Wednesday and Pugsley all come out to play in a creepy and kooky fashion. Let’s hear what they have to say.
We’ll start off with introductions, so if you could tell the readers of TheatreBloom who you are, who you are in the show, and where they might have seen you on stage in the last year or so in the area, that would be great. Miss Wednesday, let’s start with you!
Camryn Shegogue: Oh gosh! I’m really bad with interviews! But okay…hi! I’m Camryn Shegogue and I’m playing Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family. You may have seen me previously in KAT’s (Kensington Arts Theatre) production of Les Miserables as Eponine or at Montgomery College Summer Dinner Theatre’s production of Les Miserables as the Eponine understudy and in the ensemble. I did that show for seven months out of this year, it was pretty fantastic but it was two different productions. They were both fab productions! Oh gosh, what else have I done? I do a lot of stuff at my high school. I’m the head student director there so I’ve done In the Heights, Footloose, Aida— I recently played Amneris in Aida. I’m seventeen so I’m looking at colleges now and college auditions!
Laura O’Brien: I’m Laura O’Brien and I’ll be playing Morticia. Let’s see, I just graduated from college in May, I went to Catholic University. This past year, my senior year, I was actually in a lot. I did Company and I was April in that show, it was so much fun doing that role. I did Coriolanus which was really fun. And then, let’s see…oh! Merchant of Venice, which was the last one I did and I got to play the ukulele in that and that was pretty fun. In the Capital Fringe Festival this past summer I was also in another version of Coriolanus, and I played the same character which was pretty fun. Also part of the Capital Fringe Festival I was in Everything I Do the musical which was fun. It was so awesome. It just kind of happened that my schedules worked out and I was able to be in both.
John Ray: Hi, my name’s John Ray and I will be playing Pugsley. Something you might have seen me in this past year was probably Gypsy at Signature Theatre and also Crossing also at Signature Theatre.
Bobby Libby: Ok, awesome. So I’m Bobby Libby and most recently this year I’ve been sort of like Camryn only instead of being in multiple productions of Les Mis I was in two productions of Sweeney Todd in a row. The first one was in Baltimore with Stillpointe Theatre Initiative where I played Sweeney and then I was in the awesome Prog Metal version with Landless Theatre Company where I played Anthony.
I was also in Spring Awakening with KAT earlier this year, and a year before that I played Leo in Parade also with KAT. I’ve been doing a lot of my shows between KAT and Stillpointe. Oh yeah, I’m playing Gomez Addams in this current production with KAT. I am very excited to be playing Gomez.
What was the draw to want to come and be a part of the darkness that is The Addams Family?
Camryn: Well my family is huge on Halloween and we do a haunted garage on Halloween night every year. It’s a little walk-through thing and it’s really cool. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be a part of it this year because I have this show to do but this is something Halloween-y so we’re good. I’ve always loved The Addams Family. Wednesday has always been— I wouldn’t say a role model because she’s a little whack— but I find her so interesting. I love her dry sense of humor. I saw it on Broadway and I knew that it was a role I wanted to play. I saw it was Brad Oscar as Fester, Brooke Shields as Morticia, and Roger Rees as Gomez. I said “Someday I want to play Wednesday Addams.” I love her vocal part, I love her just in general. I saw Rachel Potter do the role and I just loved it.
Laura: I’m drawn to it because I love all things, I think the word is macabre if I’m saying it right. Love everything like that which I’ve just been realizing that recently and The Addams Family definitely has that aspect. The character of Morticia is just really kind of like an iconic role because she came from the cartoons, to the TV show, then the movies, and now the musical. I am very excited to tackle the infamous role. I’m pretty tall so I hope I look the part.
Bobby: I think the Addams family is just such a classic property. In talking to people now that I’m doing the show they say, well depending on their age, they say “Oh, I remember the sitcoms.” Or they say “Oh I remember the movies.” There are so many different versions of it and it’s just such a classic thing that it’s just so much fun to be any kind of part of it especially now that it’s a stage production. I love The Addams Family, I grew up watching the movies and I remember the cartoon being on and it’s great. It’s a lot of fun just to be a part of this long history of these great characters.
I did specify when I came out to auditions that I wanted to read for Gomez. I’ve been doing a lot of dark shows, well I guess this show is kind of dark too but in a very different way. The past couple years have been darkness and depressing. Spring Awakening, Hair, Parade, Sweeney, they’re all dark and depressing, though awesome. I wanted to sink my teeth into something very, very silly and comedic and that’s Gomez. It’s a great part and I was really excited to get it.
John: Well I’ve been obsessed with the show since I was in fourth grade. I got the CD and was obsessed with it and then I saw the show with Roger Rees and Brooke Shields, and then I saw the tour. I really like the show. I like Pugsley because he’s a sneaky little devil and I’m a sneaky little devil.
Camryn: He is a sneaky little devil.
Laura: He is totally a sneaky little devil.
These are big iconic characters that you’re working with. Is it challenging to adapt these characters to be your own creation while still upholding what the audience expects of these characters given that they are so well recognized?
Bobby: Yes. Yes is the answer. It is challenging when you have such great people who have played them before. Like with Raùl Julià those movies were so great. He’s such a role model for the way that I’m approaching the character. I don’t think that I end up doing it a lot like him but I wanted to definitely make the conscious decision to not do it like Nathan Lane. Now, I didn’t see the original Broadway version with him in it, and Nathan Lane is a hero of mine but I know that I’m not Nathan Lane at all. So I didn’t want to come at the role from that same place that he did. It was difficult trying to find out to best bring myself to it. There are some struggles; I’m younger than the character so I needed to find ways to age myself. I had to think about the fact that I have two children, one of whom is fully grown, and trying to figure out what that would be like was difficult at times.
Mostly it was a lot of trial and error in terms of the comedy. You kind of just have to try stuff. Luckily we have such a great cast, and such a great Director, Music Director, and Choreographer who really let me experiment with stuff. I would tell them “I’m going to try this” and if they felt like it worked I got to keep it and if it didn’t work I got rid of it. So yes, definitely a challenge.
Laura: I’m with Bobby; there is a challenge element to it, at least a little. If you think about how Morticia is— I don’t know the right word, I feel like it’s not deadpan—
Laura: Maybe. But she’s very assertive and you don’t want to say expressionless but she is sort of like that. I’m trying to think of some moments where she should show emotion because they are few and far between and you have to think about when she does show emotion— like when she’s upset, there’s a big reason why. Maybe stoic is the word I’m looking for. It’s difficult to think about how to create emotional expressions for her while still being Morticia.
Camryn: Morticia does a lot of that reserved thing, the stoic thing, but she says some really humorous things while in that state of deadpan. That’s why she’s so cool. With Wednesday I think it’s a little more interesting because she’s not the little tiny princess of darkness that you normally see? She’s older. I think people don’t expect that unless they’ve seen the show. She’s grown up and she’s still her serious macabre self but she’s not naïve anymore. Well, I mean, actually she is naïve but she’s not childish anymore.
I think it’s interesting because I do identify with her a lot. Not in the bad ways. I don’t know, I just really like Wednesday and I feel like a lot of me is in her.
Laura: You have her presence and I can feel you and her very strongly together when you’re on stage as her.
Camryn: I’m trying to push myself through her. I’m pushing into her character. I don’t find it hard to play her because I’m so similar to her. It is a challenge, just not difficult.
John: It’s kind of hard because I’m not fat. I’m just going to have to bring out—
Camryn: You could just eat a lot before the show opens.
John: No. No, I’m not risking any of this awesome body for that. Anyway, I’m really going to have to bring out the character more in the way I sing his character or speak his lines. Hopefully I’ll get a fat suit. But I’ve got the little devil thing going on, and I think that is where his character is. Even though he says he’s a strange fat kid and he’s always been portrayed as a chunky little kid, he’s more about the torture and darkness than his size.
Laura: Isn’t Pugsley older than Wednesday?
John: No. She’s 17 I’m a young kid.
Camryn: I think in the TV shows he was the older sibling. Or maybe we all just thought he was older because he was bigger. I don’t really know. In the newer movies I know he’s not older.
John, do you have siblings?
John: No. So it’s really fun to get to have a sibling in the show and play tricks and pranks on her and stuff.
Camryn: You’re playing pranks on me?
Laura: Shh! She doesn’t know about that yet.
John: Oops! Gotta keep it quiet! But yeah, it’s really fun to get to have a sister, even if she is dating some normal guy who Pugsley really doesn’t like.
What does it mean to be an Addams?
Camryn: It means to embrace your dark side, I think. Not to like completely submerge yourself in evil or anything, but to kind of embrace more of the dark humor and see bad things a little less badly. It might sound contradictory, but see the good in the bad things. The Addams’ we find everything that’s bad to be good. I feel like that might be a part of it in talking to normal people. I don’t think that made sense. I just mean that you should move toward the darkness and love. That’s it; I’m just going to pull quotes from the show.
Bobby: Well the song, or what we conclude by the end of it is, that it’s family first and family last. It’s all about family. I think that there’s an obvious level of darkness to everyone in the Addams family, and that everyone has their own personal version of that, but more than anything it’s about accepting whoever becomes a part of the family. Even Lurch is a part of the family without really being related. Grandma, whose link to the family in this show is dubious, we don’t really know if she’s related or not, but she’s still family. The darkness is different in everyone. Everyone can see how dark Morticia and Wednesday are, it’s very obvious. But like Pugsley is never quite that dark. He is masochistic and loves his torture but he’s a different kind of darkness. Gomez is excited by the darkness but it manifests in a completely different way from Morticia. He loves the darkness but he’s also a lover. This whole collection of different weird characters and they just have this acceptance of each other, that’s the idea of family.
The conflict of this show comes into play when trust has been taken advantage of. The root of it is when the trust gets broken. When Gomez keeps a secret, and him and Morticia fight, it’s a betrayal to the family. And since it’s all about family there is really no bigger betrayal.
Laura: Being an Addams is all about the family as we know. We stick together like glue. That’s why when certain things happen with a daughter of mine things in the family start to unravel a little bit because our structure— which is me as the matriarch with Gomez following me around doing pretty much whatever I say— has been shaken. Gomez follows me around, same as Bobby, actually—
Camryn: That’s because Bobby is Gomez.
Laura: He really is. He’s great at being Gomez and capturing the humor in him. It’s awesome. So when you put that together with Morticia, that’s what being an Addams is about. It’s putting these crazy different personalities together and making a family out of them. If you look at Gomez and Morticia they’re so different. And of course Wednesday and Pugsley, where’d they come from? And just all together we’re this tight-knit family and we survive all that happens in this show. It’s about staying close and not wearing yellow. Don’t wear bright colors.
John: Being an Addams means not really caring about what people think. Just do what you do and if someone has a problem with it you just say “whatever, you’re not me.”
Laura, I know you and Bobby get to do a lot of dancing in this show, what’s that been like for you two?
Laura: It’s been more fun than anything—
Camryn: Bobby and his tango…
Bobby: That tango was actually a big challenge. It was a lot of fun but it took quite a few rehearsals to get it right. But Nick (Choreographer Nick Carter) has done such a wonderful job and I think what helps us to clarify it is the comedy. The dancing is kind of for comedy. The humor in what we’re doing carries a lot of it, but dancing is definitely out of my comfort zone especially the tango. So we had a lot to work on as far as figuring out how to make it work. The KAT stage is not the biggest so finding ways to make it work so that you could see the other ancestor couples dancing behind us become another challenge that we had to work out, but it really was a lot of fun.
Laura: For the tango with me and Bobby it’s fun because you’re still really in character, they say that bit about it being in their wedding vows, tangoing twice a week, so you know it’s something that they do. It’s all very like the character, all my dancing. It pushes her forward and shows you another side of Morticia. But there were definitely times when we struggled.
Bobby: The whole cast would just put their heads together when we’d get stuck to work through it. Laura is such a pro and we’d just run it on our own whenever we had down time. It’s such a climactic moment in the show so we wanted to make sure it was just right. It was such a joy working with her to figure that out and to make the tango look as legit as it does. We knew it was very important to the characters and to that moment in the show.
Laura: I didn’t think I was going to be doing as much dancing as we did at first but once I got into it, it was really fun trying to figure out the way that Morticia would dance. When I think of a musical I would not think that Morticia or even Wednesday would want to be anywhere near one. So the fact that they’re in one is different. That makes you question how they express themselves while dancing.
Camryn: In the TV show, Morticia does a lot of dancing. Her and Gomez they dance so much! And most of their dances are really, really weird. I don’t really dance. I dance like once. Oh, wait! I get a featured part in the opening number, I do the Death Rattle.
So Wednesday and Pugsley don’t dance but they get solo songs to sing, well so do Morticia and Gomez, but let’s focus on you two for a second. What are those solos like for you, are they challenging, what do you like about them or do you like them?
Camryn: I feel like my song “Pulled” is one of the first things people hear, especially if you have the CD, and they know it so they are expecting it to be awesome. That song is so much fun because I try to bring a weird and edgy approach to it. She’s on the verge of going in a new direction and yes, she is losing her shit in this number. She’s not used to that so I’m trying to make myself a little more over the top to show that about her. It’s really fun to sing. It’s actually very vocally challenging.
And then I do “Crazier Than You” with my boyfriend Lucas (Ryan Burke) and he’s—
Laura: Did you know that Lucas means light? I found that out.
Laura: The name Lucas. So that’s really interesting because you know we’re all dark and stuff.
Camryn: I like Lucas.
Laura: Pugsley hates Lucas.
John: Don’t get me started.
Camryn: With “Crazier Than You” Ryan and I get to play off each other a lot. With “Pulled” it’s more— it’s not a soliloquy— in the beginning I think I’m kind of talking to Pugsley but then he gets pushed off and it’s an internal monologue that becomes external, if that makes sense—
John: That is in fact the definition of a soliloquy
Camryn: Ok, so it’s a musical soliloquy. With the duet, I’m definitely having fun playing off Lucas. Ryan is a great scene partner. He’s really giving and it’s just really, really fun.
Laura: You two have a lot of energy in that number and it’s great.
John: I get a fun solo, though I don’t know that it’s really energetic. “What If” is really fun because Pugsley is singing this heart-felt ballad but the words are saying stuff like “stabbing my arm myself” and talking all about being tortured. He thinks it’s really serious but the audience is probably like “what is going on here?”
Camryn: What’s Pugsley’s favorite method of torture? Does he say it in that song?
John: It’s the electric chair.
Now Laura and Bobby you guys have to help me out here, because I saw the original on Broadway, I saw both tour versions and I’ve seen one other local production and I know there were major edits all along the way. Which solos and duets do you guys still have and what are those like to perform?
Laura: Let’s see, Morticia sings “Secrets” which is the solo that she sings to Alice, or with Alice, really mostly to Alice. And then “Just Around the Corner” which is her big solo at the top of Act II and then she sings the song with Gomez— I forget what it’s called.
Bobby: “Live Before We Die.”
Camryn: How do you forget that it’s called “Live Before We Die”?
Laura: Oh right, right, right. “Live Before We Die” and that’s right before our tango. Morticia’s main moment is “Just Around the Corner” and it is actually awesome. That’s the moment when I feel like I’m really giving off the sense of who Morticia is and what she’s all about. She’s so excited about the fact that she’s going to die! She’s just singing joyfully about it and that makes it so funny. That song is the ultimate expression of who she is as a character.
Bobby: You know, my understanding is that the only solo song that I have that from the show that was also in the Broadway show is “Happy/Sad” which is the one I sing to Morticia— no, I’m sorry, I sing it to Wednesday when she’s thinking of running away in the second act because she thinks her engagement is falling apart. That is the only one that Nathan Lane sang that I also sing, aside from the group numbers. That was the number that I quickly attached to when I was learning all of the music. I quickly understood what I was going to do with it, I loved it the moment I heard it and I was all about it.
In the first act I have “Secrets” which is—
Laura: No. I have “Secrets” you have “Trapped.”
Bobby: Oh yeah. I have “Trapped” Morticia has “Secrets.” It’s playing on the same conflict. Both of those songs are new to this version. Or maybe not new-new, they were added somewhere between when it left Broadway and now, during one of the tours. That conflict has really been played up to give Morticia and Gomez more of a through line. It’s been condensed somehow, yet it’s more dramatically potent. What else do I have? I have a lot of quick little interludes for comic effects.
I have a slightly longer one called “What If?” which sort of sets up Pugsley’s version of that song. And then in the second act I have “Not Today” which is one of my favorites. It’s this big climactic 11 o’clock number that Gomez has where he’s deciding that he will do whatever it takes to get Morticia back at that moment. Then of course there’s “Live Before We Die” which I love doing because it’s such a great duet and I have so much fun doing it with Laura. I think that song was in the original but differently. It’s funny that this show has had such a long succession of changes, kind of like The Addams’ themselves from comic strip right up to stage show.
Who is your favorite Addams Family character?
Bobby: I do wish that there was a way that we could really do Thing. I mean there probably are ways that you could do it and you do sort of see Thing in the projections on the screen at the beginning, but I want to have the hand to actually run across the stage. I think that’s beyond our budget, that’s more of a George Lucas kind of thing not something we’re going to get to do at KAT. I also really do love Lurch.
Camryn: I love Lurch!
Bobby: I think he’s a really, really fun character. When you watch some of the classic sitcoms they had a lot of fun with Lurch. He also talked a lot more in that version. He’s obviously one of the first characters that people latch onto or that they think about when they think about The Addams Family. He’s not even technically a part of the family, he’s the butler, but I think he really is a part of that family. The Addams’ are just as attached to him as they are any member of their family. Just in talking to DJ (David “DJ” Wojciehowski, Lurch) we’ve talked about how he has a really rich inner life and a deep thought process. If you look at him at any moment during the show he does have a completely blank stare on his face but I know that there is so much going on inside for him. Certain moments he’ll just cock his head to the side and it’s a blast.
Also, I need to be biased for a minute and say Gomez. He has such a great heart and his enthusiasm for life and death are pretty cool. It’s really a pleasure just to let myself go and be driven by my desires the way he is and it’s a really cool way to live on stage for a couple of hours.
Camryn: Lurch is my favorite character! I don’t know why I just have always thought— you know? I like zombies. Lurch is not very complex. But I feel like he definitely has all these internal monologues that you never get to hear and can you imagine just hearing what those might be if Lurch could talk? I mean he doesn’t seem to understand everything that’s going on, and there is a lot going on, but he also doesn’t really seem to care. His apathetic approach just really intrigues me and he walks around all stiff and making his zombie noises. He’s great.
It’s funny because I met the guy who played Lurch in the newer movies, Carel Struycken. I was at a horror convention. I asked him to sign something for me and he’s this big like seven foot tall guy and he moves really slow. He was literally like Lurch in real life. He signed his name really painstakingly slow but it was so awesome because he’s Lurch! I mean, I love Lurch! Oh, and I really do love Wednesday. I do. Honest. I want to make that clear before we open, but you know, DJ (David “DJ” Wojciehowski who plays Lurch) and I could always switch parts.
Laura: It’s hard to choose but I have to say I have two. One is Grandma because— well just because she’s grandma. She comes out of nowhere with all of these comments and because I’m Morticia I’m supposed to be really annoyed with her but I can’t stop laughing—
Camryn: I just peed!
Laura: Exactly! Like that! Liz (Liz Weber) as grandma is really brilliant and she’s so funny—
Camryn: It’s really hard to hold it together in that dinner table scene because of Liz.
Laura: Gomez is my other favorite because I love his accent. His humor, the way he laughs at himself all the time, I think that’s partially how I am in real life so I can really appreciate his humor. Those stupid jokes like the ‘Alfonso the enormous’ bit, I find that hysterical. So I just love all his little jokes, and Bobby does them so well, it’s hard not to crack up with him too.
John: I’m with Laura’s first choice. Grandma is my favorite Addams because she’s really funny plus I have the most scenes with her. It’s kind of hard to keep it together, actually I really don’t, because she’s so funny.
Alright, last question, and it isn’t so much a question…I need a full disclosure! Just like the game in the show, we’re now playing “Full Disclosure” TheatreBloom Edition! And I need it from you, not your character. And go!
Camryn: Oh gosh…oh gosh! Oh my gosh where do I even start?
Laura: Are you going first?
Camryn: Does it have to relate to our character? Oh gosh…
Bobby: Oh boy…I knew you were going to ask that…
Laura: Something weird?
Camryn: Oh gosh, I don’t know! Somebody else go!
John: Ok, I’ll go! I can’t have someone sleep with me at night or I’ll punch them. I’m the meanest person in the world when I sleep. Full Disclosure.
Laura: I don’t know, I’m kind of blanking here. When I did Eurorailing— you know the rails in Europe— I went to a lot of countries, met some awesome people, did some things, and I should probably leave it at that. Full Disclosure.
Camryn: I really haven’t done anything.
John: Yes you have.
Camryn: No! I’m an innocent person, honestly!
Laura: It doesn’t have to be something illegal, you know. Just a secret that you’ve never told anyone, you know Fester was in love with the moon.
Camryn: That’s true. But I don’t even know! What’s a full disclosure about me? The only things I can think of are depressing and I don’t want to put those in! Oh gosh, well, ok, the one thing that I can think of is that I have suffered from severe depression and anxiety for most of my life and theatre has become a really big outlet for me. Playing Wednesday allows me to channel all of that dark energy in me and just spew it out there, which is actually really awesome and really helpful to me. Full Disclosure.
Bobby: Okay, I think one of my favorite crazy things that has happened to me where I have just sort of been in disbelief wondering if it actually happened…in college a friend of mine got tickets to go to the Colbert report taping. It happened to be the day after I got my wisdom teeth pulled and I had a giant ice-pack wrapped around my head. They were like impacted, they were bad so I was heavily medicated. But I was determined, I was going to see Stephen Colbert and it was going to be great.
We ended up getting seated in the front row and I had this giant head wrap on it was pretty obvious. Stephen had to come out and do this spiel before the show and he sees me. He comes up to me and he says “I’m sorry, I have to ask, are you ok?” And I tell him “Yeah, I’m fine, I just had my wisdom teeth pulled I just didn’t want to miss the show. So he says “Alright, well but you’re not going to start bleeding out or anything, you’re not in trouble or anything?” And I said “No, no, I’m good. I’m on Percocet I’m fine.” And he says “Oh, do you want to slip me some?” and he made this little motion at me.
It was great. I got to shake his hand. My friends and I had this painting that we had done of the red power ranger punching Hitler in the face. And we told him we wanted to give it to him and we asked him if he knew what it was. And he said “It looks like a power ranger punching Hitler in the face.” And of course that’s exactly what it was. He said “This has nothing to do with the show. And everything to do with the show. And I thank you.” And he kept the painting. I’ve heard reports that he keeps fan-art hanging in his office, so I’d like to believe that it’s hanging in his office right now. And that’s my full disclosure. Do I have to say full disclosure? Full Disclosure.
The Addams Family plays through November 22, 2014 at Kensington Arts Theatre— Kensington Town Hall 3710 Mitchell Street in Kensington, MD. For tickets call the box office at (206) 888-6642 or purchase them online.
Click here to read the TheatreBloom review of The Addams Family