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Uncle Fester & The Addams Family Are on Their Way to Houston

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A lot of actors work out a lot to get and keep in shape after capturing an important role. Actor Blake Hammond, who plays Uncle Fester in the touring company of the musical The Addams Family, had to man up for a trip to the barbershop.

"Fester is a fun role; the worst part was shaving my head. I've never been completely bald and so it was that day of 'here we go.' So I went to a New York old-fashioned barber shop and had a man shave my head," Hammond told Art Attack. "But now I do it every day myself. It's not that hard. I forgot what I looked like with hair now."

Brought to the Hobby Center for a week's run by Gexa Energy Broadway, The Addams Family has undergone some script revisions, Hammond said, acknowledging that when it opened on Broadway, it was loved by audiences, not so much by critics.

"They've worked really hard to make the story more streamlined and more cohesive," he said.

He sees his character Fester as "part of the heart of the show."

"He's all about love. He wants people to be in love. That's a lot of what he does. He's mischievous as all Addamses are and he's a little strange. But I don't think he thinks of himself as strange," Hammond said.

"Wednesday's grown up in this version; she's a young adult and has fallen in love with a young man, and their 'normal' family is coming to visit and everyone's having trouble with them visiting except Fester. He wants Wednesday to find love; she's found love and he wants her to be in love. He works hard throughout the night to make sure that happens," Hammond said.

Hammond has an impressive résumé. Among other Broadway roles, he's played Ernie in Sister Act, Chadwick in Elf, Braithwaite in Billy Elliot, Edna in Hairspray and Pumbaa in The Lion King. Increasingly, he says, he's found himself in productions like The Addams Family -- new shows with new music -- which gives him a better chance for input in the creative process.

His advice to young, would-be actors: "Make sure you have some kind of training. The other half is to keep showing up. My goal has been going where the work is and taking jobs. I was a character actor in New York and realized I was a little too young for the parts I wanted, so I moved to Chicago for eight years and worked in that theater circuit. They would use a little age makeup on me. I went back to New York in my early 30s to retry it again and it worked out pretty well. "

The Addams Family characters were originally created by cartoonist Charles Addams, who appeared in The New Yorker for many years. His work in turn spawned the TV show and the more recent movie.

"These characters are loved by a lot of people. People have seen the movie. A lot of people grew up with the TV series. I think people have sort of a fascination with this family that's funny and they're all so different and strange," Hammond said.

"People definitely want to come see this," Hammond said. "There's a lot going on in our country right now and the world that makes you sort of sad. And I think that's part of what theater and arts does for our nation, allow us to escape for a few moments and to laugh. Come let the Addams Family help lift your spirits." Performances of the musical The Addams Family are scheduled for January 10-15, as part of the 2011-2012 Gexa Energy Broadway at the Hobby Center season. For tickets call 800-952-6560 or visit www.BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com/Houston or www.TheHobbyCenter.org.

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