Valdosta Daily Times

November 9, 2013

Actresses discuss playing Wednesday, Morticia

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

-- — She seems sunny for Wednesday.

Especially when you know that Jennifer Fogarty has been touring since January with “The Addams Family” musical from sea to shining sea, and beyond to Asia, with the tour continuing through June 2014.

Especially when you learn that Fogarty is in a cab returning from a doctor’s examination of a pain in her wrist possibly from all of that repetitive “Addams Family” theme song finger-snapping.

Especially when you learn that she and “The Addams Family” cast have run into the first spate of cold weather this fall, playing a series of shows in New Philadelphia, Ohio, before winding their way down south for the Nov. 14 stop in Valdosta as part of the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts Presenter Series.

And especially since this chipper, young woman who seems to smile across the phone line plays such a well-known dour personality.

Jennifer Fogarty plays Wednesday Addams.

She plays the Wednesday we all know but so different from the Wednesday we know from the old black-and-white Charles Addams cartoon panels, the 1960s black-and-white TV show, the animated series, the 1990s movies.

In “The Addams Family”

musical, Wednesday is no longer a little girl but an 18-year-old teenager who falls in love with a “normal” boy from a “normal” family. Wednesday confides this new love to her father, Gomez, with the promise that he will not tell her mother, Morticia.

“It’s been so much fun to be able to bring this iconic character to life,” Fogarty says of playing Wednesday, “but at the same time there is so much discovery with her because she is older than we’ve ever seen her. She’s 18 and falling in love for the first time.”

While Wednesday does many expected Wednesday things in this musical, Fogarty says she also does “a lot of things out of character here.” As her little brother, Pugsley, notes in song: he’s upset that his sister no longer tortures him.

For Fogarty, “The Addams Family” tour has been anything but torture. She has loved it, she says. This is the 26-year-old actresses first production tour. She studied theatre in school then pursued it as a career following graduation. They have traveled throughout the United States and spent two months in Asia.

Again sounding nothing like her famous character, Fogarty says, “I love the tour life,” the food, the local atmosphere, the locals at each stop. And she is fond of her fellow “Addams Family.” The tour’s duration has brought them closer together, creating a feel of a family within the cast.

She says the show has plenty of humor and some touching moments, such as when Gomez is conflicted between keeping Wednesday’s secret or telling his beloved Morticia.

KeLeen Snowgren plays Morticia. Snowgren is a veteran performer. “The Addams Family” is her fifth production tour. She performed in supporting roles  in national tours of “The Will Rogers Follies,” “Hairspray,” “The Producers,” and “Spamalot.” With “Addams,” she brings to life the well-known Morticia, finding her own voice in a character that has been personified by others for generations: Carolyn Jones in the ’60s TV shows, Anjelica Huston in the 1990s movies, Bebe Neuwirth in the musical’s original Broadway run.

“Playing Morticia is a huge responsibility,” Snowgren says. “... People have a specific idea of who Morticia is.”

Snowgren believes the magic of the character is that she’s part macabre and part matriarch. She truly loves her family, loves them to death.

As for Snowgren, she loves touring and performing. In addition to garnering a lead role, this musical has also provided her with her first international performances.

In Singapore, audiences treated the performers like superstars. After shows, promoters insisted the cast stay in character then paparazzi took their photographs.

Snowgren says it was also interesting to see the cultural shifts in humor. Any scene of mother versus father, or daughter versus mother was perceived as funny. In the States, a scene where Grandmama Addams has an accident usually garners laughs; in Asia, the scene was met with silence because laughing at the expense of a grandparent, even Grandmama Addams, is disrespectful.

Valdosta audiences can decide for themselves next week.

 

Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts presents the professional, nationally touring production of “The Addams Family” musical.

When: 7:30 p.m., Nov. 14.

Where: Mathis City Auditorium, 2300 N. Ashley St.

Tickets, more information: Call (229) 247-2787; or visit turnercenter.org, or the arts center, 527 N. Patterson St.