Over the years there have been many incarnations of “The Addams Family”, from Charles Addams’ original New Yorker cartoon panels on to the original 60’s TV series; initial animated appearances in “The New Scooby-Doo Movies”; two 1970s animated Addams series; a late 70s Halloween TV special; yet another 90s animated special; two 90s big screen remakes featuring Raul Julia and Angelica Huston; a direct-to-TV bomb; one more live action late-90s TV series; and of course “The Addams Family: A New Musical” which opened on Broadway in 2010 and is currently enjoying national and international tours. Heck, there’s even word that a new animated series is now in the works. With no sign of the popularity of The Addams’ dying down (pun intended), Nashville’s Circle Players have chosen the merrily macabre Addams Family to open their 65th season. Beginning Friday, October 17, Circle Players’ will present “The Addams Family: A New Musical”, and just in time for the Halloween season.
Earlier this week, I had the chance to chat with Brian Best and Katherine Morgan as they made final preparations to step into the famed roles of The Addams’ parental figures Gomez and Morticia. My conversations with these two actors with quite varied backgrounds follow in my latest installment of my recurring celebrity interview feature Rapid Fire 20 Q. In the true gentlemanly spirit of Gomez Addams, Brian Best insisted ladies first.
Rapid Fire 10 Q with Katherine Morgan, Morticia Addams in Circle Players’ “The Addams Family: A New Musical”
JONATHAN PINKERTON: Which was your first introduction to Gomez, Morticia and the rest?
KATHERINE MORGAN: The 60’s TV series!
JP: Morticia has a penchant for snipping the blooms off roses. Do you yourself have a green thumb, or would Morticia’s method suffice?
KATHERINE MORGAN: I’m with Morticia, although I love flowers, I just can’t grow them….or don’t care to take the time.
JP: It’s interesting that “The Addams Family” has been animated so many times, with a new animated series currently in the works. There was even a series of Addams video games released between 1989 and 1994. Speaking of video games, you voiced Jean Grey for an X-Men video game, right? What was that experience like?
KATHERINE MORGAN: Voice-over is so much fun. 99% of what I do is for commercials so getting to voice games is a blast. In that particular game I got to voice match Famke Janssen. That is one of my favorite things to do. (voice match) It’s challenging and then when you hear your voice nail the sound, it’s really exciting.
JP: You also appeared in the 1999 indie film, “Slaves of Hollywood”. It’s about a group of Hollywood assistants trying to make their mark in ‘the biz’. I remember seeing it. Having been behind the scenes in the music business here in Nashville, I remember thinking it was a hilarious, but pretty accurate portrayal of the inner workings of the entertainment industry. Was that a fun project to star in?
KATHERINE MORGAN: Oh Man! I LOVE that you know that film. It was the greatest experience to work with really talented and hungry artists all the way around from the directors and actors to the DP and the crew! Michael Wechsler and Terry Keefe had this vision and they made it happen. It was truly inspiring. What is now more fun is to see the success that a lot of the group has had. Hill Harper especially blew up. So great.
JP: Over the years, some pretty heavy hitters have portrayed Morticia, among them, Carolyn Jones, Angelica Huston, Daryl Hannah, Bebe Neuwirth, and Brooke Shields. While they all posses similar attributes in their portrayal, they each seem to have brought something new and unique to the role. What do you bring to the role of Morticia that audiences may not have seen in previous interpretations of the role?
KATHERINE MORGAN: Oh, that is a hard question! I’ve only seen a few of those ladies portray Morticia, but I think I have a different underlying softness. She is seemingly so rigid and posh, but there is whimsical softness under there. I loved the way Carolyn Jones’s Morticia looked and moved. She was finished, but very lovely, not quite so hard. I want to keep her regal but sweet.
JP: Among Morticia’s numbers in the musical version of “The Addams Family” is “Tango de Amor”. Are you a good dancer?
KATHERINE MORGAN: I love to dance, I’m not sure I look as good as I feel doing it. I’m short with a lot of curves, it’s more fun to watch those long and lean bodies dance. But am I good dancer? I don’t know…let me know when you see it.
JP: If you could play another character in “The Addams Family”, whether you fit the character bio or not, who would it be and why?
KATHERINE MORGAN: Fester. I love him. He is so fun and has such a joie de vivre. I would like to live my life with that goofy freedom.
JP: From what I understand you’re relatively new to Nashville. Are you fitting in, or do you feel like a member of the Addams Family?
KATHERINE MORGAN: This town is amazing. There is something really cool about the South. I’m from Kansas City originally which basically makes me a “Yank”, right? There was a certain feeling of being welcomed, but cautiously. Does that make sense? Things really started to feel like home since I have become part of this show. It has been such a blessing.
JP: Another great number in the show is “Live Before We Die”. When you think about it, that’s really a great message to live by, huh?
KATHERINE MORGAN: It is! It’s so easy to get mired in day to day sludge and conflicts. It’s so important to focus on the love and life we have each moment. And I love a good make up scene
JP: Since I’m not much for the tango, I guess I’ll end out time by asking you something I’m also asking Brian….What about your family? Would you describe them as creepy, kooky, mysterious, spooky or all-together ooky?
KATHERINE MORGAN: For sure Kooky and extremely colorful. I might describe a few members as creepy, but mostly kooky.
With that it was time for me to get a man’s perspective, so on with the second half of this hauntingly informative Rapid Fire 20 Q.
Rapid Fire 10 Q with Brian Best, Gomez Addams in Circle Players’ “The Addams Family: A New Musical”
JONATHAN PINKERTON: When chatting with Katherine, I mentioned the various incarnations of “The Addams Family”. Be it illustrated, live action TV, animated, feature film or musical. What was your first introduction to Morticia et al?
BRIAN BEST: My first exposure to the Addams Family was the original television series with John Astin. I remember coming home from school and watching reruns of “The Addams Family”, “The Munsters”, “The Brady Bunch”…they were my afternoon entertainment. I would laugh out loud when watching them.
JP: What is it about the Addams Family that keeps audiences coming back for more?
BRIAN BEST: I think people keep coming back because there is something that is intriguing about their family. The are unusual…yet they are happy and even darkly “wholesome”. There is a strong bond between them all which is something everyone wants.
JP: Let’s be honest. You’re playing Gomez on stage, but in your real life, are you more a Gomez, an Uncle Fester, a Lurch or a Thing?
BRIAN BEST: In real life, I would say that I am a little Gomez and a little Fester. If you took Gomez’s over the top personality, charm, love for a long detailed story with family flashbacks and suave fashion sense and combine them with Fester’s goofy/quirky personality, love for ALL people and strong positive attitude you would get me.
JP: Gomez loves it when Morticia speak French…or any foreign language for that matter. Is there one thing that someone you know does that has the same affect on you?
BRIAN BEST: Seeing someone who lives a life filled with passion. Too often people don’t care enough about themselves, what they do, who they are…or even their view of the world itself. When someone is passionate about who they are, what they do and what happens in the world around them…you cannot help but catch their fervor; it’s almost contagious. I try to be that person for others.
JP: On the flipside, Morticia seems to enjoy it when she and Gomez dance the tango. Are you a good dancer?
BRIAN BEST: Yikes? Why did you have to ask that question? No!! I can dance…but it takes me a while to get it most of the time. I remember when I sang in “The Kids from Wisconsin”, our choreographer Tom Terrien would shake his head and put me on the back podium…until it was time for a solo. At Opryland, the dance captain would tease me every day (I was probably the only non-dancer in the show!!) But enter Tosha Marie Pendergrast, our Addams Family choreographer extraordinaire! Crazy connection here is I taught her when she was 6 years old and she sang on my 2nd CD! She works with you, teaches you well using your strengths and pushing you just beyond what you think you can do. The result: a dance that looks good!! I think it also helps that Katherine and I have such a great chemistry; when we met, it felt like we were friends forever. That shows in the singing, acting and the dance! If Mr Terrien could see me now, he would be amazed!!
JP: Speaking of your time at Opryland, please tell me you were in “I Hear America Singing”. That’s one of the shows I remember seeing time and time again as a kid.
BRIAN BEST: I loved “IHAS”!! That was a few years before my time. I was in “Way Out West”, “Back In The Saddle” and “A Country Christmas”. In “Way Out West” I played Brett Maverick and was swing on a lot of other characters. Due to sickness and injuries from tumbling in the show, there were days when I would play 3 or 4 different parts in a show. I always loved to act, but this is where I learned to be a character actor and come up with different voices..it was a great training ground.
JP: You’re also part of the 40s Swing trio, Two Tall Divas and a Tip Top Daddy. I take it you’re the ‘Daddy’. How did that come about?
BRIAN BEST: I have always loved Big Band music and my friends Ann Marie Brown and Cherry Cole, the Two Tall Divas, were part of a Big Band. It got too expensive to travel with the Big Band and they wanted to do something that would still allow them to sing the music they love. Now we sing for bus tours, conventions, weddings and other events. We do a reenactment of a Bob Hope USO Show for many veterans and other patriotic events. We love taking people back to a simpler time…giving them memories of loved ones and cherished moments that they may have tucked back in their minds. Songs can help relive milestones in our minds and it is a joy to help people in that way. In fact, Katherine may start playing Marilyn Monroe at our USO shows!
JP: Speaking of Divas, you’ve worked with some of country music and gospel’s biggest. What’s been some of the highlights of that aspect of your career:
BRIAN BEST: Meeting my hero, Sandi Patty. I remember being backstage at the Dove Awards eating. She walked in the room and said hi…my hero, talking to me??? My mouth dropped open and fish popped out…then I began speaking gibberish in a cracking, falsetto-like voice. Truly a moment I will cherish forever!!!
JP: Another interesting aspect of your career has centered around children’s ministry. How important is it to you to share that part of your life with a new generation?
BRIAN BEST: I feel that sharing my Journey with Jesus is so important for today and tomorrow…actually forever. So often people feel unloved in this world. Kids are picked on every day and being bullied never feels good. Some children even have a life at home that is less than what the Addams Family has. I want them to know that there is someone bigger that loves them when no one else does. He is their best friend, their comforter, their hope, their joy…their everything! People try to make a relationship with Jesus harder than it is. I want children…well actually people of all ages…to know that He loves them, exactly the way they are. He made us each a masterpiece in His eyes; the world my tell us differently. But He loves every part of the person He created us to be! I ask Him every day to help me share His love with others…and many of this cast does the same thing. It is a joy to be an Addams.
JP: I’ll end our time the same way I ended my review with Katherine…”The Addams Family” theme song has been such a part of pop culture that even the youngest of kids are familiar. If you had to categorize your family, would you say they are: creepy, kooky, mysterious, spooky or all-together ooky?
BRIAN BEST: Well, I would have to say we are pretty kooky!!! My house was always filled with laughter….loud laughter!!!
Circle Players opens their 65th season with “The Addams Family: A New Musical” on Friday, October 17 with shows running thru Sunday, October 26. To purchase tickets, CLICK HERE. To learn more about Circle Players, CLICK HERE. If you’ve enjoyed the latest installment of my Rapid Fire 20 Q celebrity interview feature, be sure and click the ‘subscribe’ tab located at the close of this article to sign up to receive free email alerts whenever new Nashville Entertainment articles are posted.