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DIRECTOR TONY KELLY

Discusses “THE ADDAMS FAMILY”

With Iride Aparicio


Photos courtesy: The Stage.

Tony Kelly

SAN JOSÉ, CA --  “Directing is interpreting. Helping other people, the actors, the designers, or, for that matter the audience, get closer to the work. The writer is the one who has to stare at the blank page and create something that was not there before; and the actors have to look at the page and make up a character out of thin air, and think how are they going  to present it to the audience on the stage. So, I think that the actors and the writers are the real creators of a performance. The director helps the writer shape the play, and also helps the people (the actors) in their choices as they develop those choices. There is nothing secondary about the role of the director, but it is interpretative. You are helping the creators bring their work to the audience. I have respect for my profession, but I feel that what writers and actors do with their work is magical. I know what I do, but I always think that what they (the writers and actors) do is such a beautiful kind of mystery.”
With those words, Director  TONY KELLY describes his job as director of THE ADDAMS FAMILY, the musical,  to CULTURAL WORLD BILINGUAL.

As its Director, KELLY did not select the work himself, that will be presented by THE STAGE, The South Bay’s Award-Winning Professional Theatre in S.J. from June 3 to July 26. “They (THE STAGE)  have a long history of doing a crowd-pleasing musical at the end of their Season", (their 32nd in this case) he tells us, “I have been lucky to work for them before directing seven or eight of their shows, and in the past couple of years, I have been directing their musicals, so I was happy to direct this one.”

C.W.B. When did you start directing plays?

T.K. “I did not really get involve in theatre until my college years. I did a little bit of performing; I did a little bit of designing, and found out by positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement, that I could memorize lines, and I could perform upstage but stage fright never sat well with me. I was good as an actor, but when directing, I really felt more useful. I could help the crew work. At the time, because I was directing a lot of shows in college, I just fell into it. I felt that what I was doing was preparing myself to go film school and direct films. But I never liked working with cameras, I like working with people and directing theatre, you are always working with people; a face to face communication. It is you and the performers. Each performance is different. Yet, what it is nice about directing is that at the same time that you try to have an idea as to where are things going to go, you have to be willing to be surprised, and you have to want to be surprised. I have respect for my profession, but I feel that what writers and actors do with their work is magical. I know what I do, but I always think that what they do (writers and actors) is such a beautiful kind of mystery.”

C.W.B. As its director, what attracts you about THE ADDAMS FAMILY?

T.K. “To be truly honest,  the cast. The work is a hilarious, an incredible smart  adaptation of the CHARLES ADDAMS’ cartoons (that originated the characters) and the TV series, to the stage. Musicals have conventions, people sing, people dance, but none of those were in the cartoon or the TV series because it was a different media, so the stage show and how they adapted the material is really clever. But what really drew me in, was the tremendous cast.  I have been lucky to work with all of these principals (Morticia, and Gomez and Wednesday and Lurch) before, because THE STAGE has regular performers who play on their shows

THE STAGE cast of THE ADDAMS FAMILY
                    THE STAGE cast of THE ADDAMS FAMILY

and they are great. In this play Gomez and Morticia are perfectly cast and they really play their characters in such a beautiful way.”

C.W.B. What would you tell theatre goers who had never seen THE ADDAMS FAMILY before, about the play?

T.K.: “It probably helps to know the “basics” of  THE ADDAMS FAMILY.  If they have any memories of the cartoons or the version of the TV series is probably good because it is a particular kind of dark kind of hilarious humor. But get ready to hear them sing.”

C.W.B.  Who is your favorite character in the family and why?

TK: “They all fascinate me in different ways, but I think that the most fascinating to me in this show is Wednesday. She is the one that is different. When in the cartoon and TV series she is a girl 9 or lO, so she is a kid, here in this play, she is in her early twenties and in love and she wants to get marry. And that starts all the problems. So, what is eally interesting to me, is that she is different than all the other characters.  Everybody else is like a template.  They can go look at their character in the cartoons, but she (the actress who plays Wednesday) has really to invent who she is, but not from the cartoons, because now she is grown up. And I can tell that the writers of the musical just loved this because her songs are the hit songs of the show. She has the dark humor of Morticia, and the slapstick of Gomez,”

C.W.B. How are you going to approach the play’s message which I think is “The importance of being honest  with your family”.

T.K. “Yes, that is the message. But if you have seen the Broadway’s production of the play, this (what THE STAGE will present) is a very different script. What the folks wrote for Broadway was a vehicle for that production. But looking at the scripts, one can see that the actual script, that they performed on Broadway, was changed for the production tour. What we have is the “touring version” and in this version, (the touring version) they really focused on that message that you just mentioned. Gomez can not tell a lie to his wife.”

C.W.B. Can you tell my readers about something about you, as a director, that you haven’t told anyone?

T.K.  This is funny because since I have worked with the performers more than once, they know a lot about me, but what is funny is that I certainly have, like many directors, strong opinions about how things should go, how things should be expressed,  how things should be staged.  The Directors I admire the most, and the work I try to do, is a little bit invisible. There are directors who try to attract attention to themselves and even though I like attention, it is not necessarily from the directing. When you see shows, what do you remember out of a show?  It is the performance. So, it is the writing and the acting. Because of it, when I direct my place is in the background, and I like it there."

C.W.B. Do you have anything to add about the show?

T.K: “I think this is funny because the show is opening soon and this is the time where I am asking myself “How is the show going to be? You will think that I will know. You will think that I have this vision and I am trying to fulfill that vision. Not at all.  I want to see how the show turns out to be, and we are talking just two days before the show goes into technical rehearsals. That is when the show is going to be created because that is the first time you have everything there to make theatre.  Until then, you are just guessing, so that is the most exciting part to me. Then, when the play opens, and you see everyone on the stage enjoying themselves and enjoying the choices that they are making, you know that (as director) you did the right thing.”