Westporter Adam Riegler will stand front and center playing the role of Pugsley in the Broadway show The Addams Family this week.
The musical previewed at the Lunt Fontanne Theater on March 8 but the official opening night of the production is Thursday, April 8.
Based on the macabre family of characters created by cartoonist Charles Addams, the production features Nathan Lane as Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia. Performances by Krysta Rodriguez as Wednesday, Kevin Chamberlin as Fester, Jackie Hoffman as Grandmama and Zachary James as Lurch round out the madcap, yet ghoulish, family that has previously been featured in a television series as well as feature films.
Riegler, 11, is enjoying the experience. "Everyone involved in this show is so nice and we have a great time together," he told Westport Patch this week.
The youngster is no stranger to the Great White Way. In 2008 he was selected to play the role of Young Shrek in the Broadway production, Shrek the Musical.
In some ways, the current show is similar to his experiences in Shrek, Reigler said. "The Addams Family (also) is an original show so there are lots of changes all the time, new lines, new songs, etc.," he said. "You have to be able to change things and learn new things quickly."
The production allows him to show off additional talents.
"I get to sing and dance, which is really fun," he said. Once the show begins, Riegler will appear in "every performance," working eight shows each week.
The Addams Family had its first run in Chicago, where it was very well-received by the critics. In his column, chicagocritic.com, Tom Williams praised the show as well as the actors.
He wrote, The Addams Family is a flat out hit show that finds a fresh way to re-introduce us to the bizarre world of our lovable finger-clicking Addams clan ... Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice have written a gag-filled hilarious book that aptly depicts their family values through a macabre lens.
All Addams' are here: Gomez Addams (Nathan Lane is funny, slick and charming) eccentrically enthusiastic patriarch. Morticia Addams (the ageless and sensual Bebe Neuwirth) the family matriarch always dresses in sleek black is pale skinned and is self-adsorbed. The kids include Pugsley Addams (the talented Adam Reigler) as the deliciously diabolical child who loves to be tortured by his older sister Wednesday (Krysta Rodriguez in a star turn performance).
In addition to enjoying the great reviews, Riegler had a blast during his time in the Windy City.
"It was my first time in Chicago and I loved it. It is a great city," he said. "My brother goes to college there so I got to see him a lot which was great. We got to a lot of special things because of the show. We had a private tour of Wrigley Field and I was honorary co-captain of the Bulls for a game. I met the Bulls' captain and the captain of the Sacramento team. I was also announced on the Jumbotron and I got to hold the game ball and get a team shirt signed by the captains.
"I also had a private tour of the Chicago Art Institute, which is awesome," he continued. "Chicago audiences were very nice and receptive, there are great restaurants and we had a lot of fun there. I will definitely go back there again!"
Riegler's first big break in show business came in 2008 with an Internet marketing campaign via YouTube.com. In a seies of pre-Tony Award ads for Xanandu, he played the fictional character Cubby Bernstein, a pint-sized dynamo who was touted as Broadway's Tony Award Campaign Manager. His Web series (www.cubbybernstein.com) garnered more than a half-million views in mere days.
The series of ads, all tongue-in-cheek, featured top-name Broadway performers, including John Cullom, Cady Huffman, Cynthia Nixon, Nathan Lane and Patti LuPone. In one segment, Lane reports that Cubby "worked me like a pack dog during The Producers." In another, LuPone, as her Gypsy character, Madame Rose, asks Bernstein to "bring back Vaudeville and make my daughters stars."
According to YouTube.com, the series of online ads became the third-most-viewed video in America and the second most popular comedy in the United States and Canada. In addition, the series received many other international honors including the first-most-viewed video in Hong Kong and third-most-viewed in Australia.
His character was so well-received that Riegler made appearances as Cubby Bernstein. Wearing his alter-ego's trademark pin-striped suit, Riegler (as Cubby) was among the celebrity judges for the finals competition of "Sing For Your Tony Tickets," a talent competition presented by Macy's and the Tony Awards at Macy's Herald Square. Aspiring Broadway stars got a shot at winning tickets to attend the 2008 Tony Awards
Adam's mother, Lynn Riegler, credits to the keen eye of Jill Jaysen, director of Westport's own theater school, Center Stage Theatre Company, with recognizing his talent.
"I worked as the musical director at Center Stage, and I used to bring Adam with me to the school's classes and rehearsals at the Seabury Center," Lynn explained. "He would sit quietly and read a book or watch the rehearsals while he waited for me.
"Jill saw something in him and sent him to an audition for David Copperfield, which was directed by Joanne Woodward and Anne Keefe at the Westport Country Playhouse. He got the part of Jip. The following year he appeared as Tiny Tim in the Playhouse's holiday production of A Christmas Carol."
Locally, Adam has appeared in Center Stage shows — including Intervention and Les Miserables — as well as the Staples Players productions of Children of Eden and Beauty and the Beast.
Adam attended Saugatuck Elementary School. Now in sixth grade, he presently studies with a tutor.
He lives in Westport with his mother and his father, Natai. He has two brothers, Danny and Ali. His grandmother is Rita Ross of Westport.