When members of the Addams family make their annual trek to the local graveyard to visit relatives, one of the ancestors is played by Chloé O. Davis.
“I play a dead person,” Davis said with a chuckle.
Davis, who received a graduate degree from Temple University in Philadelphia, is making her musical debut in the recent tour of “The Addams Family,” appearing at IUP as part of the Lively Arts Series on Thursday at 8 p.m. Davis is also familiar with Indiana University of Pennsylvania, having worked in the Office of College and Career Awareness with the Philadelphia Public School District while she lived in the city.
“I put college tours together and sent many junior and senior high school students to IUP for visits,” Davis said.
The St. Louis native has trained in both theatrical and classical dance, and was a principal dancer with The Philadelphia Dance Company before deciding to venture into musical theater.
“The beauty of being in a musical is you can put all of your talents together — singing, dancing and acting,” Davis said. She especially appreciates being part of “The Addams Family.” “It’s so vibrant, especially the visual look of the show.”
Davis also enjoys the travel, not only throughout the United States, but also the production’s recent tour of Asia.
“Musical theater has such a special place in everyone’s hearts, not only here but overseas,” Davis said. The actors wondered in advance if the people in Asia would be familiar with the show and get the jokes, so they were excited when they were a hit. “They laughed at everything, even the cornier jokes,” she said. “I love meeting new people and seeing how many great fans the show has.”
Davis not only performs as the family’s Native American ancestor, she is also the production’s dance captain.
“My primary duty is to keep and maintain the original choreography from when the show first debuted on Broadway,” she said.
In the event a cast change must be made — for example if one of the principal actors gets sick — Davis must make sure that the understudy knows all of his or her musical staging and choreography.
“It’s live theater — things happen,” Davis said. “It’s my job to make sure the audience sees an outstanding, seamless production. I have to put my thinking cap on, but it’s very exciting.”
She also credits the professionalism of the cast for making her job easier. “Having a cast that’s respectful and flexible is the best thing a dance captain can ask for,” Davis said.
One of the cast members appearing with Davis is Jennifer Fogarty, who plays the now grown-up Wednesday Addams, the “Ultimate Princess of Darkness.” Playing a character who appears solemn for the majority of the show is not a natural look for Fogarty.
“I’m the type of person who usually smiles all of the time,” Fogarty said, “so I have to make sure I tone it down while I’m playing Wednesday.”
“When we were just starting rehearsals,” she said, “I was practicing some of my lines and the director, Jerry Zaks, looked at me and said, ‘OK, good, but you’re not going to smile when you say that, right?’”
Fogarty’s reply was, “Yeah, but I’m so excited!”
The musical’s storyline says “Wednesday has grown up and fallen in love with a sweet, smart man from a respectable family. And if that weren’t upsetting enough, she confides in her father and begs him not to tell her mother — his sultry wife, Morticia. Everything will change for the whole family on the fateful night they host a dinner for Wednesday’s boyfriend and his parents.”
The production will also include a post-show question and answer session for IUP and regional high school students, where they can talk to Fogarty and other members of the cast. Fogarty loves the opportunity to speak with students and the public.
“People think ‘The Addams Family’ is a silly story,” she said, “but I’m on a lot of social media and always getting messages of support, especially from teenage girls,” she said.
The young women thank Fogarty for showing them that it’s OK to be different. “A lot of girls relate to Wednesday, since she’s the odd one in the family. The story shows that it’s OK to be yourself.”
Fogarty feels that the primary message of the musical is about love and acceptance.
“All of that love is really brought forward on stage.”