By Miriam Trujillo
On the Saturday night before Easter break, CenterStage’s production of The Addams Family Musical played for a packed and enthusiastic audience in Ward Hall. The Addams Family Musical was CenterStage’s penultimate production of the year. It played for three nights over Founders Day weekend, and garnered enthusiastic attention across campus.
The Addams Family Musical is the first time America’s famous “kooky and spooky” family has been brought to live theatre. The story centers around Wednesday Addams and her romance with Lucas Beineke, a seemingly ordinary young man. Wednesday invites her boyfriend and his normal family over to the Addams’ eccentric goth mansion for dinner. Chaos is inevitable as the Addams and the Beineke families clash, and relationships aside from Wednesday and Lucas threaten to unravel.
Gomez, the Addams family patriarch is stuck in between the will of his wife, Morticia and his daughter, Wednesday. He desperately tries to keep the peace which ends up being a completely impossible mission. Wednesday and Lucas find their relationship tested by their family’s tension, and have to determine if their love for one another is strong enough to last. Mrs. Beineke comes to realize that her marriage has turned loveless and empty, and nearly leaves her husband. Wednesday’s younger brother Pugsley is determined to keep his sister at home, and, continually tries to break Lucas and Wednesday up. Through it all, Wednesday’s uncle and the ghosts of all the Addams family ancestors scheme to ensure that love will win out at the end of the day.
The cast exhibited a remarkable amount of dedication to this zany story. The lights, music, and choreography shone with enthusiasm, encompassing the audience and making them feel like they were portraits on the wall, watching the suspenseful night unfold.
“From reading the book,” said Gabriel Ashton-Brown, Senior Musical Theatre Major and director of The Addams Family Musical, “I wanted the audience to feel as if they were entering the Addams Family house, just as the Beineke Family did in the musical. I wanted the entire inside of Ward Hall be one of intrigue, mystery, and confusion. ”
The score had a jazzy, rock and roll feel to it that used the rambunctious music to raise the stakes and to make every event feel critical. The act one finale, “Full Disclosure,” palpably had the audience on the edge of their seats, cheering on each character and wondering what would happen next.
The actors took each of their over-the-top characters and refined the character arcs until they told the story of a believable set of people facing genuine problems in their love lives.
“The greatest challenge with The Addams Family was finding the right balance between cartoon-ish humor and the honesty in the book,” Ashton-Brown said.
A stand-out performer of the show was Kramer Kwalick, playing the role of Gomez Addams. Kwalick made the audience see the story through Gomez’s eyes, as this macabre father who struggled to support his daughter, stay on his wife’s good side, be hospitable to his guests, and boast about his glorious family tree every chance he had. Gomez’s story arc also provided the most heartwarming element of the story, as he worked to keep everything in his household afloat.
Through his actions, the audience was able to understand that the bizarre tastes and the ghoulish customs of the Addams Family do not completely separate them from more conventional families. Their love for each other is still at the core of their relationship, and that strength ends up saving the marriage of the Beineke family that realizes that their own, stiff relationships would be more loving with a little more Addams Family craziness.
Saturday night’s performance of The Addams Family seemed like an interactive experience. The audience was incredibly invested in every word and dance number, that they were able to feel like participants in the show. The audience cheered on the Addams and Beineke families on to happier, more loving relationships.
“I think our production of The Addams Family was extremely successful,” Ashton-Brown said. “We definitely caught the attention of the CUA public, and created a memorable night for students and parents alike.”
From the cheers, loud applause after every song, and delight in every joke and clever line of the Addams Family, one could see that the show did indeed make for a memorable night.