By Jeffrey Borak
Berkshire Eagle Staff
NEW LEBANON, N.Y. -- "Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein" was a monster smash last summer at The Theater Barn.
In the hope that box office lightning will strike again, the Barn is coming back this summer with another monster musical, "The Addams Family," which opened Thursday and runs through Aug. 31.
It’s the first production of the newly-released 2010 Broadway musical to be mounted in this region by a local theater.
Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth starred as Gomez and Morticia in the original Broadway cast. But the Addams’ popularity rests on 1991 feature-length movie and 1993 sequel starring Anjelica Huston and Raul Julia and, even more, a live-action ABC-TV sitcom that starred Carolyn Jones and John Astin.
"That series lasted only two seasons (Sept. 1964-Sept. 1966)," said Bert Bernardi, who is directing the Theater Barn production, "but these are characters we all know."
Small wonder. The family has been around, in fact, since the early 1930s when cartoonist Charles Addams introduced them to readers of The New Yorker.
With music and lyrics by Theater Barn alum Andrew Lippa (the summers of 1990 and ‘91, according to Theater Barn owner-producer Joan Phelps) and a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, the musical deals with the impact on the Addamses when their daughter, Wednesday, wants to bring home a young man she wants to marry.
The musical’s style, Bernardi said, draws a great deal from vaudeville, which is among the reasons he was drawn to the show.
The key to making the show work, Bernardi said during an early morning interview, is to give audiences something new while, at the same time, meeting expectations of characters audience members have come to know and like over the years.
"There is enough in the show that will be familiar to audiences but also new," Bernardi said. "Kids will enjoy the nostalgia of the TV series."
Rights to the musical became available in June. "I love to do plays when they’re new," Phelps said, joining Bernardi at the interview.
"I’ve always loved the TV show. What I love about this musical is that it really is about family and it carries a message that for all our differences we are all (fundamentally) the same."
"It’s a perfect summer show," said Bernardi, "nice, easy, familiar in a good way." On stage
What: "The Addams Family." Music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
When: Now through Aug. 31. Eves.: 8 Thu.-Sat. Mats.: 4 Sat.; 2 Sun.
Where: The Theater Barn, 654 Route 20, New Lebanon, N.Y.
Tickets: $23, $25
How: (518) 794-8989; thetheaterbarn.com