BY Alonso Duralde
November 17 2009 8:45 AM ET
Tell me about what we’ll be seeing from you in the upcoming Addams Family Broadway musical, if you’re allowed to talk about that.
BT: Well, I’m not supposed to say stuff. I’ve already said stuff, and I’ve gotten busted. [Laughs] But, you know, I’m sort of contributing to the strange and weird presences in the Addams Family household. It’s not like The Lion King, but there are some flourishes and some extra textures in the show by having some puppetry, some more fantastical creatures and some of the well-known characters like Cousin Itt be a puppet.
BT: Actually, no, because the Broadway show is based on the original New Yorker cartoons and not the TV show, Thing was actually a development for the TV show and then more so for the films. They have to tread carefully around those kinds of issues. The intellectual property is based on the cartoons, which are extremely rich and have a real elegance to them, so I think it’s great.
It would seem that you each appeal to different demographics — are you bringing each other’s audience to each other?
BT: It seems like it. We sort of have this crossover place where we have the same audience, but then I’ve done all this stuff uptown, at Lincoln Center, and Joey’s done many kinds of cabaret and music and club things. And he has such a history in New York with so many different people. So a lot of people were coming to see either my work or Joey’s work and then discovering the other person for the first time. But there are definitely people who know us both.
JA: I used to tell people, “Come and see this great puppet show — it’s going to blow your mind.” So they would come to see Basil and have no idea what to expect, and their jaws would absolutely fall out.
BT: And then a lot of people came to the show who had never experienced Joey before, some people who just read about it in The New York Times or The New Yorker and thought, Oh, this sounds like an interesting piece. It’s very difficult to describe Joey Arias if you’ve never experienced him. [Laughs]
JA: Yeah, I hate when people just throw “drag queen singer” at me; that’s a real cop-out when they do that.
BT: I don’t know how to put it into words; I wouldn’t dare try.