Actor the strong, silent type in 'Addams Family' role
WANT TO GO?
"The Addams Family"
WHERE: Keith Albee Theater, 925 Fourth Ave., Huntington
WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday
TICKETS: $45, $50 and $58
INFO: 304-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.comCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dan Olson doesn't answer his phone with that famously creepy query, "You rang?" Instead, the actor who plays Lurch in the touring production of "The Addams Family," says hello in the friendly way that calls to mind the rural Midwest.
Lurch and the rest of the Addams Family come to the Keith Albee Theater in Huntington Sunday, and Olson is glad to be coming to West Virginia.
"I have a couple of friends in Charleston, and one in Morgantown," he said. "I'd love to catch up a little while I'm in town."
Olson would love to chat, and he has tons to talk about: how he got started in theater, his two-year stint as Frankenstein's monster at Universal Studios in Japan and even his very understanding wife, also an actor, whom he left behind in New York in February to go on the road for the next 14 months.
He has a lot to say when he's off stage and out of character, but not so much after the curtain has been drawn. Barely anything at all, really.
"I would say that I do have lines," Olson said. "But it's a lot of guttural sounds and grunts. That's what's interesting for me. I'm usually more out in front, and I'm learning about what works in theater, learning about the power of silence."
Olson's role of Lurch is a departure from Philippi-raised actor Ted Cassidy's portrayal in the 1960s television series. Cassidy's Lurch wasn't exactly a chatterbox, but he did grumble a few words here and there.
The current version, Olson explained, is closer to the source material and the cartoons of Charles Addams.
"It's the main source of inspiration, but we get some inspiration from the films [of the 1990s], more so than from the television series," he said. "In the original cartoons, Lurch was borderline silent. In the TV show, he became a rock star at one point."
Olson said the musical looks in on the family just a few years after where people might have remembered seeing them on television or in the movies. The children, Wednesday and Pugsley, are now in their late teens, and Wednesday has brought home a boy to meet the parents.
"It's a fairly traditional story of parents meeting for the first time, and with the Addams Family, you can imagine that things go less ideally than expected."
It's a fun show, but Olson said it is also a lot different than many of the roles he's played over the years.
"Usually, it's me out there singing and dancing," he said.
Olson didn't say whether Lurch dances or not, but given that he has to wear special shoes to raise his six foot six height further, it seems unlikely.
Olson grew up in Darlington, Wis., which was, in its own particular way, a little weird.
"It has a population of 2,400 people and like 10 theater groups," he said. "The town has a strong background in theater."
Through high school, Olson said he appeared in about 10 different plays, often as a lead. He then went to Huntington University in Indiana, where he studied theater and acted in as many plays as he could fit in.
"I think I did something in the neighborhood of 40 shows," he said. "It was probably the best training, just the opportunity to explore."
It was also where he met his future wife, Amber.
After graduation, he worked in theme parks and small theaters in Florida before winning the role of Frankenstein's monster for "Monster's Live Rock n' Roll Revue" at Universal Studios Japan.
"Japan was incredible," Olson said. "I loved my two years there. The house we stayed in was full of performers who came from all over the world. It was kind of an artist commune, all in one building."
After two years, he returned to the States, married his college sweetheart and the two of them moved to New York about a year ago.
"We've been auditioning and working as much as we can," he said.
Olson started the tour in February and said his contract continues through June 2014.
"From a working actor's perspective, that kind of job security is wonderful," he said. "I want to fill the contract, but only if it doesn't leave my wife out in the cold. It's a long time away from each other. She's an actor, too, but that's one of the realities of being married."
Reach Bill Lynch at email@example.com or 304-348-5195.