Theater: Creepy, kooky and coming to Atlanta

While many local theater companies go dark for the summer, Onstage Atlanta is making the most of the season. In its Decatur digs, the company is finishing a rare staging of the drama, “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean,” directed by DeWayne Morgan, and is about to open “The Addams Family Musical.” The show brings together the popular characters from the franchise, including Wednesday, who has grown up and wants to date (ahem) someone normal. We caught up with the show’s out director, Charlie Miller, to talk about the show’s resonance and the camp appeal of Morticia.

How familiar with these characters are you?
Miller: I watched the TV series as a kid—I think a lot of us did—and then the movies in the early 90s. It’s always been part of something I was familiar with.

Tell us briefly about its history as a musical.
When the (2010) Broadway show came out, I was super excited. Apparently it had some issues on Broadway so they had to re-tool it, re-do some songs. We are doing the tour version. I think it’s amazing.

Is the musical more based on the TV series or the “Addams Family” films?
The musical is based on characters from the comics. All versions have the same characters but for the musical they went to the source material. In the TV show, Wednesday is a kid but in the musical she is grown up, has a boyfriend and is about to get married. The whole family is there—Morticia, Gomez, Lurch, Grandma, Pugsley, Fester. It isn’t written to have cousin Itt or have Thing, but there are places we can potentially put them in. I am not sure I will be able to do that, but we are still some weeks from opening.

What is the biggest challenge?
I’d have to say the size. It’s huge for our size of stage. There are 18 people in the show. Costuming them all, dealing with multiple locations—it’s like problem solving to the thousandth power, because there are so many things to figure out. The show is meant for a Broadway stage. We are pulling it down to a 100-seat theater, but still trying to tell the same story so the audience can follow what is going on and none of the fun and spectacle is lost.

What is the LGBT appeal of this musical?

First, it’s a musical with dance and comedy. Morticia is a gay icon and she’s been for years. She is sexy and powerful and strong and beautiful and dark, all wrapped into one. The actress playing her will be wearing her tight, black mermaid dress. It’s also campy and fun. The thing that makes the show funny for me is that (the family) are considered weird and kooky and strange, but look closely and they are just like everyone else. You can identify with them. I think everyone is a little quirky and weird, regardless of where you are in life.

How long have you been with Onstage Atlanta?
I’ve been with Onstage since 2008. I’ve directed a lot, including “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and “Young Frankenstein,” both of which won the Metropolitan Atlanta Theater Awards for Best Musical. Acting-wise, I’ve done 15–20 roles, including the lead in “The Drowsy Chaperone.” But I’ve had my hand in everything.

“The Addams Family Musical”
Onstage Atlanta
2969 East Ponce De Leon Ave. Decatur, GA 30030
July 10–August 16