They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, and they'll be in Sarasota for Halloween.
They're the Addams Family, and they'll be on stage in the musical that bears their name at the Players Theatre for a two-week run which starts Thursday.
"The Addams Family" took an unusual path to Broadway. It started as a single-panel cartoon in "The New Yorker," became a classic television series (and later an animated cartoon TV series), then morphed into a moderately successful series of movies, and finally became a musical.
"The musical is probably more of a take on the original cartoon characters rather than on the TV show or the movie," said Jared E. Walker, who's directing the Players production. "But the TV show and the movies have both influenced the musical."
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Probably the most obvious influence of the TV series is that the characters have the names we all know them by -- Gomez, Morticia, Pugsley, Wednesday, Lurch and Fester. They were unnamed in the New Yorker cartoons.
And Gomez has acquired a Latin-American accent, a nod to Raul Julia's performance in the films.
The musical's story has Wednesday, the daughter of Gomez and Morticia, all grown up and in love. She brings her boyfriend home to meet the family, and brother Pugsley tries to sabotage the relationship.
It has the dry and slightly macabre humor of the other "Addams Family" incarnations. There's a scene in which Wednesday tortures Pugsley, who begs for more. And the nuclear family shared its house with the ghosts of many generations of deceased ancestors, going back to a caveman Addams.
The Broadway version of the musical got awful reviews, despite a writing team that included some of the same people who created "Jersey Boys," and a cast that featured Bebe Neuwirth, Nathan Lane and Terrence Mann. Notwithstanding the reviews, it ran for a respectable year and half. (Mann, incidentally grew up in Pinellas County and later originated the role of Rum Tum Tugger in "Cats" on Broadway.)
The script was extensively re-tooled for its national tour, which is still going on. (It stopped at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in April.) The Players production uses the script from the tour, not the one from Broadway. Walker said it's far superior to the original.
Among the members of the 20-person cast is Eve Caballero, a regular at both the Players Theatre in Sarasota and Manatee Players in Bradenton.
One of the biggest challenges, she said -- besides moving around in Morticia's restrictive costume -- was re-inventing an iconic character who had been inhabited by several great actresses in familiar roles.
"It's very important to me that I come up with my own interpretation," she said. "I can't become a carbon copy. But I'm watching the TV show and the movies to see what mannerisms I can pick up. You have to give people what they want, what they expect. It's the balance that's tough."
Besides Caballero, the cast includes Chip Fisher as Gomez, Sabrina Bowen as Wednesday, Brett McDowall as Pugsley and Tom Palazzo as Lurch.
Details: Oct. 30-Nov. 9, The Players Theatre, 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Show times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $25-30. Information: 941-365-2494, theplayers.org.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.