Showgirl Goes Goth
They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re all together ooky, and they’re on their way here.
America’s favorite creepy family is coming to Springfield in the Broadway musical The Addams Family. The happily unhappy family first came to life thanks to cartoonist Charles Addams, who introduced Morticia, Pugsley, Gomez, Wednesday, Uncle Fester, Grandma and Lurch in the pages of The New Yorker. As the dark and depressing group heads out on an international tour, we caught up with KeLeen Snowgren, who plays the beautiful-but-gloomy Morticia to talk about what it’s like to go from playing mostly showgirls and performing in the ensemble to being the lead role in a Broadway production.
417 Magazine: So, this tour has you performing in the U.S., Canada and Asia. What is that like?
KeLeen Snowgren: This will be my first time in Asia. I’ve been on four other tours around the United States, and you know, when you get to Mount Rushmore for the fourth time, you’re like, “Yup, it’s still there.” This will be new and really exciting.
417: Morticia is your first lead role. Are you at all nervous to be in that spotlight?
K.S.: This is a whole new role for me, and I’m very excited and very nervous. When you’re in the ensemble, you think, “Oh they’re looking at me,” but really, you know that they aren’t. But now there’s the pressure of knowing that people are actually looking at you because you’re the only one on stage, and you’re the only one talking.
417: What’s it like to play Morticia?
K.S.: She’s a total vamp and exudes sensuality, but what’s amazing is that she ultimately wants what’s best for her family. So even though she might say, “What we all live for is darkness and grief and unspeakable sorrow,” what she wants is for her family to be successfully unhappy.
417: Because the musical is based not on The Addams Family TV show but on the original cartoon by Charles Addams, how did you prepare for the role?
K.S.: I did a lot of research and watched a lot of videos to collect mannerisms and to learn the way she speaks. But that all went out the window, because the show isn’t based on the movies or TV show. In the cartoon, Morticia doesn’t have a voice or a way of walking. You just get her folded arms. That’s been the adventure, getting to know Morticia not based on what I was familiar with, but I had to become familiar with the way that she’s written in this musical.
417: Have you ever had a bad audition?
K.S.: Absolutely! There were times when I thought, “Oh, I can play that part.” But it was so far out of my range, or I was way too tall. And that happens. You go in and forget the material, and suddenly you forget what you’re supposed to be doing for the dance audition. So you just walk in circles. Everyone has good auditions and bad auditions. It’s the same as live theatre; anything can happen.
417: Are there certain roles that you’ve learned are good fits for your style or personality?
K.S.: Well, I’m 5-foot-9-inches tall, and I’m leggy, and I’m not the most incredible dancer in the world. But I love performing and being a showgirl and putting on the pretty costumes. I’m not going to audition for Les Miserables or Oklahoma. I chase after the shows where I fit.
417: What are some shows that you felt you had a natural fit in?
K.S. I started my touring career with the musical The Will Rogers Follies in the role of the favorite. She had a bunch of cute little scenes. From there, I played the role of the babe in The Producers, and I understudied Ulla. Then I went on to Hairspray and played Luanne. She was one of the nicest kids in town; that was one of my favorite shows. It had such a great story to tell and lesson to teach, so that was amazing to be a part of. After Hairspray, I went on to Monty Python’s Spamalot and played another showgirl and understudied The Lady of The Lake.
KeLeen Snowgren has been performing on stage for most of her life. She fist fell in love with acting when she was in the fourth grade. Since then, she’s made a career of playing the role of showgirl and acting in the ensemble. Her current role, playing Morticia in the Broadway musical The Addams Family, pulls Snowgren from the comfort of the ensemble and thrusts her into the spotlight as one of the main characters in the show. But before joining the cast of The Addams Family on their international tour, Snowgren spent a year and a half trying to achieve a “normal life” back home in Dallas. We caught up with Snowgren to talk about what it was like for her off the stage and what brought her back to theatre.
417 Magazine: Before auditioning for the role in The Addams Family, you had been working in Dallas as an event planner. Why did you leave the stage?
KeLeen Snowgren: I’m 30 now, and life was great being 23 and 24 and 25 on the road. But my ultimate goal was to spend more time with my family since I’d been away from them for so long. And I wanted to try to establish some sense of normalcy and hopefully date somebody.
417: Were you able to establish that sense of normalcy?
Snowgren: My time with my family was huge. I have an identical twin sister, and we are incredibly close, so I missed her a lot. But I think I’m a different breed when it comes to work. Theatre feels right. It feels like what I’m supposed to be doing. My co-workers did a wonderful job trying to make me feel like I fit in, even though everyone knew that I didn’t.
417: What made you stand out?
Snowgren: I would be the girl who would listen to the radio and would be singing along, everyone knew when I was in the office. And I was always overly cheerful; they told me I used too many exclamation points in my work documents.
417: Was it a hard decision to return to the stage?
Snowgren: I had to really think about it, because I did want to settle in Dallas and be with my family. But after looking at the material, it just felt right. I figured there was no sense in me saying yes or no when I hadn’t even auditioned for the role yet. So I went to New York and auditioned and found soon after that I got the role.
What: The Addams Family
When: April 5, 8 p.m.; April 6, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Where: Juanita K. Hammons Hall, Springfield
Cost: Tickets start at $15
More information: Visit hammonshall.com for more information.