Q&A with Grandma Addams
(Actually, it's with Pippa Pearthree, who plays Grandma in The Addams Family)
The spooky, kooky Addams Family is descending on Charlotte. Revue sat down with Pippa Pearthree, who plays Grandma, to find out what the bizarre cast of characters will be doing on stage.
Pearthree is a Broadway veteran, having appeared in Boeing Boeing, The History Boys, Frozen, Titanic, Taking Steps, and Whose Life Is It Anyway. Off-Broadway, she's been in The Dining Room, Hamlet, American Days, The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs, and The Miss Firecracker Contest. Her film credits include Mrs. Soffel and Taking Woodstock. On the small screen, she's appeared in Law & Order, Bored to Death, and in the criminally overlooked NBC series Buffalo Bill with the great Dabney Coleman.
Q. It sounds like Wednesday, the original Goth chick who was mostly silent and glum in the TV series, gets a starring role in the musical. Is that true? What is it about Wednesday that makes her special and makes her so prominent in this show?
A. Wednesday is older in the musical. She has grown up and fallen in love. She is central to the plot, experiencing new feelings. As a result, it provides an opportunity for the wonderful actress playing her (Cortney Wolfson) to sing some wonderful songs.
Q. What role does Grandma play in the action? (And, is she Gomez's or Morticia's mother?)
A. Grandma is in her own world much of the time and not directly involved with the intricacies of the plot. As to whose mother she is, you have to see the show for the answer to that.
Q. What are some of the songs you think audiences love most? Which characters sing them?
A. There is a lot of variety to the music in this show. There are big production numbers with wonderful choreography. The dancers are extraordinary in this show and, of course, the audiences love those. There are also quiet, gentler songs with beautiful melodies that are very moving. Gomez, who is having a little trouble with his daughter growing up has one of those (“Happy/Sad”). There is a terrific tango that Gomez and Morticia do with the dancers that brings down the house.
Q. What do you love about this play and the role of Grandma, in particular?
A. I think this show is wonderfully fun and silly. At the same time, one gets to know the family and comes to care for them. In other words, there is a story you can become involved in. Grandma is a hoot. She is quite eccentric and, as I said, in her own little world and yet, has a loving and very sweet relationship with Pugsley. She loves her family.
Q. Who's the audience for this musical? My 8-year-old nephew loves The Addams Family (which he's discovered via Netflix), but is the material too raunchy for the under-12 crowd?
A. This is truly a show for everyone. It's funny and accessible for children and they can see all the characters they know from the TV series. At the same time, it's clever and sophisticated enough for adults.
Q. How has the old TV show-turned-musical been updated today? (Or, has it?)
A. To be honest, I didn't watch the series a lot, as a child. I can say, that our show feels contemporary but you're never in doubt that you're spending time with the same Addams family that we all know.
Q. How long have you been touring with the show? What are your previous favorite roles?
A. This production is brand new. We began rehearsals in New York in August and opened in New Orleans at the end of September. The actress playing Wednesday was in the Broadway production but, it's all new for the rest of us. I've done a lot of plays in New York and in theaters around the country that I've loved. I can tell you that I'm sometimes recognized from playing a judge on the original Law and Order and from time to time from John Carpenter's film Village of the Damned.
Q. Is the iconic opening music from the series part of the score? Does the audience snap along?
A. Yes, the well-known musical theme is in the show and yes, the audience does snap.
The Addams Family is part of the Broadway Lights series. It opens Oct 11 at Ovens Auditorium. Details here.