If at first you don’t quite recognize Gabe Belyeu when he steps out on the Mac-Haydn stage, that’s the general idea.
“People might not realize it’s me when they first see me, and that’s fine,” said Belyeu, who is playing Gomez in the Mac-Haydn Theatre production of “The Addams Family,” opening today and running through Sept. 4.
“A lot of people have told me I’m something of a chameleon. They don’t recognize me when I first come out on stage, and as an actor I love it when that happens.”
Belyeu has played all kinds of characters since first coming to Mac-Haydn in 2002. This summer will be his seventh in Chatham.
“This place has given me some wonderful opportunities to play some real crazy characters,” said Belyeu, who was most recently the Wolf in Mac-Haydn’s production of “Into the Woods” earlier this month. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be a part of this family, and I guess they trust me with certain roles. They trust me to do a lot of things.”
‘The Addams Family’
WHERE: Mac-Haydn Theatre, 1925 Route 203, Chatham
WHEN: Opens today and runs through Sept. 4; performance times are 2 and 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $34-$14
MORE INFO: www.machaydntheatre.org, 392-9292
Belyeu’s Mac-Haydn resume also includes playing Alfred Doolittle in “My Fair Lady,” Rodger Debris in “The Producers,” Javert in “Les Miserables,” Fagin in “Oliver” and Albin/Zaza in “La Cage aux Folles.”
In “The Addams Family,” Belyeu plays Gomez, a character made famous by John Astin from the ABC television series that ran from 1964-66. Carolyn Jones played his wife, Morticia, in the TV show and Carrie Cimma takes on the role at Mac-Haydn. There were various remakes and sequels to that show, including three movies.
Then in 2007, Broadway veterans Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice and Andrew Lippa developed the story into a staged musical.
With Brickman and Elice writing the book and Lippa the score, the show opened on Broadway in March of 2010 with Nathan Lane playing Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia. It earned Tony nominations for Best Score (Lippa) and Best Featured Actor (Kevin Chamberlain as Uncle Fester).
“It’s a play with universal themes, and I think everybody is connected to some dark side,” said Belyeu. “Everyone also feels like an outsider at some point in their own little way.”
Belyeu grew up in Albertville, Alabama and went to Birmingham-Southern College, graduating in 2000 with a degree in musical theater.
New York audition
“I was doing summer stock in Birmingham and a friend told me I should go to New York,” remembered Belyeu. “I went and I got into a replacement call for the national tour of ‘Showboat.’ Everybody went into this room, we all sang, and when we were done they told me and these two girls we had a job. It was kind of a whirlwind. It was my second day in New York and I got a national tour.”
Belyeu continued to find work, doing national tours of “Cinderella,” “Oliver!” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” His favorite role, he says, was playing Albin/Zaza in “La Cage aux Folles” at Mac-Haydn in 2013.
“I have so many favorites, but ‘La Cage aux Folles’ is right up there,” he said. “It’s a great show with some very funny moments and some very serious ones. It was so enjoyable doing it at Mac-Haydn a few years ago. This is a great second home for me. To come upstate and spend the summer with a wonderful theater company is really great.”
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette: