Musical Builds Bridges between Choirs

Annette Ungermann, Opinion Editor

3 separate casts performed the musical version of The Addams Family during the weekends of March 16-18 and 22-25 in conjunction with the tech club, orchestra and band, and extensive help from parent volunteers and professionals alike.

Loosely based on the comics of Charles Addams and the subsequent television show and movies, the musical follows the same eccentric family. Principal members of the Addams family –Morticia, Gomez, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandma, Fester, and Lurch– were portrayed by lead actors at 3 showing a piece, with a supporting ensemble of Addams ancestors performing at all 9 shows. Disembodied hand “Thing” and Cousin Itt also made appearances.

The production included a cast of 96 student actors and roughly 50 students that took part in the pit orchestra and tech crew. Rehearsals began in early January, giving casts just 2 months to prepare. It was nerve-wracking, according to junior Will Grubbs, who played Gomez Addams. “I’m pretty sure every year we’re freaking out because we think that everybody isn’t as prepared as they should. And then dress rehearsals come around and we get into costume and character and makeup and stuff, and then we can feel the character and it just comes together perfectly,” said Grubbs.

Junior Grace Andresen, who played Alice Beinecke, admitted that the process was demanding for all involved. “I am there all the time. All the time. As a principal, I really want to set a good example for the rest of the ensemble, for the underclassmen and things like that. And so I feel more responsibility to do extra things and do more for the musical. And also I care so much about it. As a principal, [the musical] is such a great opportunity, and I’d never want to pass it up. It’s amazing, always fun,” said Andresen.

Commitment from all students involved, specifically the large ensemble cast, kept the show running smoothly. “The ensemble this year has been amazing. I, personally, was worried, only because there’s so many of them,” said Andresen.

“In theater, you need to be able to bond with a person, you need to have a certain chemistry in order to perform well. And so with the added chemistry of ensemble and principals, it’s a better show. It’s more connected, it’s less stagnant, and the ensemble’s more willing to do things that I don’t think they would have otherwise,” added Andresen.

Junior Matthew Shieh, who played Fester Addams, added that the casts “hung out with each other outside of the musical multiple times.”

Thematically different from last years’ production of family-friendly Beauty and the Beast, the show contained darker, more adult humor. Though different, and according to Andresen, an “unexpected” pick, the show received “only positive responses.”

Though time intensive, Andresen said the product was rewarding. “The musical is just another world, certainly. During musical season, I spend more time [at Campo] than I spend at home–sleeping or doing homework or things like that. But it’s all good. It’s the thing I look forward to most the entire year.”

Shieh agreed that the experience was “really special,” especially “making friends and bonding with people you don’t expect to be friends with, and becoming better friends with them throughout the course of the musical.”

The annual spring musical was also a send-off to seniors of the choir program. “I’m gonna miss the seniors a lot. On our closing show yesterday [March 25], all the principals who aren’t usually ancestors threw on ancestor makeup and got whatever costumes they could find. We went out there and did the big numbers and everything, and it was so much fun. It was a great way to close it, but I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I’m going to really miss doing this with these people.’ It’s hard to say goodbye to people you’ve become attached to and you’ve hung out with a lot,” said Grubbs.

“It’s not just about the quality of singing in the musical– it is about that, and [choral director Mark] Roberts places a good amount of emphasis on that–but the musical community starts in choir. It’s cool because in the musical you get to be friends with people who aren’t necessarily in your particular choir, but whatever choir you’re in, you go into [the musical] with your friends from that choir and branch out from there,” said Grubbs.