Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Fall of Fester

This time of year, I always feel like shaving my head, donning a long black robe with a fur collar, and sticking a light bulb in my mouth.

My Fester fetish can be traced back to the spring of 2000. Several members of the Gypsy Players were hanging out in the bar at Dakota's Steakhouse in Simi Valley, trying to come up with an idea for a fall mystery dinner theater script. We were having a fairly successful run with The Last Cruise of the S.S. Minnow—a mash-up of Gilligan's Island, The Love Boat, Speed, and Titanic. "How about something with the Munsters or the Addams Family?" the bartender suggested.

An Addams Family Mystery premiered at Dakota's that fall. The show was directed by John Diesel and starred Ron Kewish as Gomez, Judie Kewish as Morticia, Roxanne Diesel as Grandmama, Mikisha Harrison as Wednesday, Tiel Kinsner as Marilyn Munster, and yours truly as Fester. I loved playing Fester, and was happy to reprise the role when the Gypsies revived the show at the Grand Vista Hotel in the fall of 2004, with Gabriel Vega as Gomez, Deborah Parsons as Morticia, Pat Newbert as Grandmama, Mallory Jordan and Kelly Murkey as Wednesday, and Lola McKenna and Marilyn Zaslow as Marilyn. The Gypsies produced the show once more at Paul's Italian Villa in 2007, with Gabriel Vega, Deborah Parsons, Pat Newbert, and I reprising our roles, and Veronica Morrow and Renee Smith as Wednesday and Marilyn.

A year ago, Comedy Tonight Productions revived the show at Yolanda's Mexican Restaurant in Ventura. Gabriel Vega, Renee Smith, and I reprised our roles; Kathryn Dippong Lawson and Veronica Scheyving alternated as Morticia, Heather Byhoffer was Grandmama, and Courtney Licata was Wednesday.

There have been other productions of An Addams Family Mystery all over the country. Unfortunately, for reasons I won't go into here (but which you may be able to deduce if you read last week's post), it may no longer be performed. However, I don't see why I shouldn't be able to post excerpts as "fan fiction." Do you?

Scene 2 ("Werewolf Genetics"), is my favorite scene. It follows, as is frequently the case, Scene 1, which I will first briefly summarize:

Imagine that you are a member of the Addams family. You arrive at a family reunion, to be greeted and seated by Gomez, Morticia, Grandmama, and Fester. Lurch and Thing are away at a funeral (primarily because it's extremely difficult to cast a seven foot cadaverous butler and a disembodied hand). Pugsley, who is studying to be a forensic pathologist, is in the midst of his finals at Harvard medical school. Wednesday is expected at any minute.

When Wednesday arrives, her mood is uncharacteristically cheerful. Much to the horror of her parents, she announces that she has been undergoing analysis with a certain "Dr. Crane," and is finally learning to enjoy life. Oh, and there's one more thing. She is engaged—to her boyfriend, Eddie Munster. The family—particularly Morticia and Grandmama—do not approve of the match. Not only is Eddie Munster "not Addams material," he is a werewolf. "He promised to get help," wails Wednesday. "He's going to check himself into the Lon Chaney center!"

"I don't care if he's made an appointment to be neutered," replies Morticia.

The family's objections become moot when, just before the end of the scene, FBI agent Marilyn Munster arrives to announce that her cousin, Eddie, has been murdered. Members of the Addams family—including, possibly, you—are prime suspects.

During the dinner break, Marilyn is torn between questioning the guests and pursuing Fester, for whom she seems to have developed a strange infatuation. She loses sight of him for a moment and then sees him across the room…

MARILYN:  Fester! (crosses to him) There you are! I was afraid you'd left.

FESTER:  No, I'm still here. How's the investigation going?

MARILYN:  Okay, I guess.

FESTER:  Do you really think someone in our family did it?

MARILYN:  It sure looks that way. I'm sorry.

FESTER:  You don't suspect me, do you?

MARILYN:  Of course not! Why, anyone could see that you're just a big ol' teddy bear who wouldn't hurt a fly! But the rest of your family…(looks pointedly at Morticia).

FESTER:  Oh, they're not so bad, once you get to know them. I'm sorry about Eddie. I didn't know him very well, but he seemed like a good kid. How did he become a werewolf?

MARILYN:  Oh, he was born that way.

MORTICIA:  Don't be ridiculous. There's no such thing as a born werewolf. You can only become a werewolf if you're bitten by a werewolf.

MARILYN:  Well Eddie was never bitten. Aunt Lily always said it was genetic. She said Eddie inherited it from her.

MORTICIA:  Is Lily a werewolf?

MARILYN:  Well, no…

MORTICIA:  Then I'm sorry, but your theory just doesn't make sense.

MARILYN:  Are you calling my aunt a liar?

MORTICIA:  Perhaps she had a reason for not telling you the truth.

MARILYN:  What makes you such an authority on the subject, anyway? Have you ever known a werewolf?

MORTICIA:  Heavens no! Horrible, hairy creatures!

MARILYN:  Like your cousin Itt?

MORTICIA:  Itt is not a werewolf!

MARILYN:  Well, then what is it—a dust mop?

MORTICIA:  Listen, you blonde freak of nature…

FESTER:  Morticia, please!

GOMEZ:  Perhaps you two should settle this outside—with appropriate weapons.

MARILYN:  That won't be necessary, Mr. Addams. (takes out her cell phone and begins to place a call) I have a friend at the bureau who can settle this… (to phone) Mulder? Marilyn Munster. I'm working on a case, and—listen, what do you know about lycanthropy?… Yes, I know… Yes, I know that, too… (beginning to lose patience, she does a "yak-yak" hand gesture) Yes, yes, yes—look, all I want to know is, is it hereditary?… Thanks. (to others) He's talking to his partner—she's a doctor… (back to phone) Scully? Wassup, girlfriend?… Yeah, I know you're a skeptic, but try to keep an open mind, okay?… Well, he claimed to have inherited the condition from his mother, but she's never shown any symptoms… What's that?… congenital?… recessive gene?… Okay… Yes… I think I understand. Thanks, Dana. Later.


MARILYN:  She says the gene could be recessive, which means someone could carry the disease without showing any of the symptoms. A child could inherit the disease, but only if both parents carried the recessive gene.

GOMEZ:  Then your Uncle Herman is a werewolf?

MARILYN:  No—but he doesn't have to be. He just has to carry the gene.

MORTICIA:  Or else…

MARILYN:  Or else what?

MORTICIA:  Never mind.

MARILYN:  No, what were you going to say?

MORTICIA:  I have no desire to cast aspersions on your aunt's character, but…

MARILYN:  But what?

MORTICIA:  Well…are you quite sure that Herman is Eddie's father?

MARILYN:  How dare you!

MORTICIA:  Well he certainly didn't look anything like Herman.

GOMEZ:  No one looks anything like Herman.

MARILYN:  (seething) I am going to make some more phone calls. When I get back, I will get to the bottom of this… and I will have justice for my cousin's murder!

(Wednesday enters. She is wearing her customary black dress and carrying a gun.)

MORTICIA:  Wednesday? What are you doing with that gun?

WEDNESDAY:  I was playing Russian roulette. I lost.

GOMEZ:  That's my girl! Good to see you're your old self again, Wednesday!

WEDNESDAY:  (not hearing him, in her own world) One bullet. Just one bullet. Do you think I could kill all three of us with one bullet?

GOMEZ:  If you did, it would be one hell of a shot.

(She points the gun at Gomez, Morticia and herself, in turn, and pulls the trigger. The gun does not fire.)

GOMEZ:  (pulling out a gun) My turn!

MORTICIA:  Gomez, Wednesday—remember my rule about guns in the house.

GOMEZ:  (putting gun away) Sorry, Tish—I forgot. What'll it be, Wednesday—knives or sabers?

WEDNESDAY:  You see? This is exactly what Dr. Crane was talking about! What kind of family duels with each other? (She bursts into tears.)

FESTER:  Poor kid!

GRANDMAMA:  I'll talk to her.

FESTER:  Please, Mama—be sympathetic.

GRANDMAMA:  You don't think I can be sympathetic? I can be sympathetic. (She crosses to Wednesday.) Put a sock in it, Wednesday! (Wednesday stops crying.) Still moping over wolf boy?

WEDNESDAY:  Oh, Grandmama! I miss him so much!

GRANDMAMA:  Sure you do. But it would never have worked out between you two, believe me. Oh, yes, it's wonderful at first—werewolves are wild, passionate creatures, and they make fantastic lovers. But then come the drains clogged with fur, the claw marks on the furniture—and forget about trying to housebreak them.

WEDNESDAY:  How do you know so much about it?

GRANDMAMA:  I was in love with a werewolf once.


GRANDMAMA:  It was a long time ago. He was beautiful—thick silver fur, soulful brown eyes—and that tongue…!

WEDNESDAY:  What happened?

GRANDMAMA:  Well, it's a long story, but trust me on this—werewolves are bad news.

WEDNESDAY:  Not my Eddie! (She begins crying again.)

GOMEZ:  Say, I know what will cheer Wednesday up! Cha-cha?… Mambo?… Tango! Hit it, Fester!

The scene ends with Fester singing a tango, as Gomez dances first with Wednesday, then with Morticia. My preference was The Masochism Tango, by Tom Lehrer
I ache for the touch of your lips, dear,
But much more for the touch of your whips, dear.
You can raise welts
Like nobody else,
As we dance to the masochism tango... 
Want to know what happens next? Stay tuned for next week's episode, "Death at a Séance!"

My final appearance as Fester with the Gypsy Players,
Acton Lions Club, February 16, 2008.


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  2. You have been listed as 'Fester' in my phone for as long as I've had a number for you in my phone, it seems. And ever shall be.
    I miss you, Brother!
    Gabriel "Gomez" Vega