Charles Addams

A band of ghoulish outsiders

Broadway Rose raises The Addams Family from the dead in a rousing romp of a musical comedy

America has always been a fertile ground for outsiders. The consequences of not fitting might be dangerous or deadly, but our art world has long opened its arms to carry malcontents like cream at the top. Eventually what was once strange, awkward, or foreign becomes cherished. “An institution” is a phrase that’s sometimes thrown about. We also have a little place in  our hearts for the dark side, the shadowy world where a headless horseman terrorizes young New England, or a beating heart raises guilt through the floorboards.

And who, or what, is more of an outsider/insider American clan than The Addams Family, who are kicking up their musical-comedy heels in a rousing new production at Broadway Rose?


Lisamarie Harrison as Morticia, with ensemble in Broadway Rose’s “The Addams Family.” Photo: Sam Ortega

It’s been a long and ghoulish and very American road for the Addamses from the pen of cartoonist Charles Addams to the musical-theater stage. When Addams first drew his family from an inkwell, America was in the throes of the Great Depression. A freelancer, he made his reputation with the New Yorker. Encouraged as a child by his father to keep at the pen, Addams was inspired by the Victorian homes of his New Jersey neighborhood, and drew skulls and crossbones for his high school newspaper. In one of his first jobs out of college, he doctored crime-scene photos for a publication. His professional career was made with the creation of his crazy, kooky family, cementing his paychecks and reputation for half a century.


ArtsWatch Weekly: ‘Broomstick,’ Charles Addams, and other frights

A look at the week that was in Oregon arts. A glimpse ahead at the week that's going to be.

Here in this little corner of Oregon ArtsWatch World Headquarters, we still get a little excited about Halloween. The current occupant, when he was a child, lived in a place where a few outhouses still dotted the countryside, and he recalls the breathless tales of marauding high-school miscreants out on holiday crime sprees, tipping the things over whether they happened to be in use or not. Ah, tradition: That’s what makes America great.

We like hot apple cider (maybe with a shot), and Night on Bald Mountain or The Monster Mash blaring on the music box, and tykes in strange costumes knocking on the door in a mad quest for high fructose corn syrup in its stickier forms. On the evidence, a lot of other people like this ritualized revel on the dark side, too.


In the Día de los Muertos/Halloween mood: Milagro Theatre's La Muerte Baila swirls with the season of the dead. Photo: Russell J. Young

In the Día de los Muertos/Halloween mood: Milagro Theatre’s La Muerte Baila swirls with the season of the dead. Photo: Russell J. Young

  • Veteran actor Vana O’Brien grabs onto Broomstick, New Orleans playwright John Biguenet’s solo show that the Los Angeles Times calls “an arresting blend of evocative humor and eerie gravitas … about an Appalachian crone who may or may not be a witch.” At Artists Rep; opening night (natch) Halloween.
  •  Michael Graves’s Portland Building, which has something of a nightmare reputation of its own, hosts a Dia de los Muertos installation Wednesday through November 4, a collaboration of muralist Rodolfo Serna, young artists from the  Boys & Girls Club, and members of Portland’s Mexica Tiuhui Aztec dance group.
  • Stumptown Stages’ musical-theater version of Stephen King’s bloody fable Carrie, which Christa Morletti McIntyre, in her ArtsWatch review, says “celebrates the worst of us,” continues to knock ’em dead in the Brunish.
  • Milagro Theatre continues its original Day of the Dead show, La Muerte Baila: A Last Dance To Remember Forever, through November 8. Go ahead: Dance like your life depends on it.
  • And sure enough, the Oregon Symphony‘s chipping in Friday night with a show called Disney in Concert: Tim Burton’s ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas,’ a title that allows us the frightening pleasure of putting the words “Disney,” “Nightmare,” and “Christmas” in the same sentence. (It’s a Danny Elfman score. That’s a good thing. The show’s sold out. That’s a bad thing.)


And just when you thought you were getting out of this thing alive, here comes Charles Addams.


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