Encore Extra: The Addam's Family
They’re creepy and they’re kooky! Mysterious and spooky…
The Addams Family have come a long way since they first appeared as one-panel gags in The New Yorker in 1938. Regarded by some as the inspiration for the goth sub-culture and its fashion, and providing the design for cartoonish clans to come (think The Flintstones and The Simpsons), there’s no denying that The Addams Family have become a staple of popular culture.
It is no surprise then that the students of Scotch College are ecstatic to be presenting The Addams Family Musical in 2017. Teaming up for their sixth year in row is Adam Goodburn as Director, Linda Williams as Choreographer / Assistant Director and Antony Hubmayer stepping into a Producer role this year, with new addition to the team Briony Nickels as Musical Director.
The Addams Family Musical premiered on Broadway in 2010 and won the Broadway.com Audience Award for Favourite New Broadway Musical. The Australian premiere occurred in Sydney in 2013. For musical theatre aficionados, Scotch College will be presenting the US touring version of the show.
The musical features Wednesday Addams on the cusp of adulthood at age 18 (get those images of a young Christina Ricci with plaits out of your head now!). Wednesday is all grown up, with a black bob hairstyle to prove it, and in love. The object of her affection, however, Lucas Beineke, is a ‘normal’ person and it is when the Addams family meet Wednesday’s beau and his family for the first time over dinner at the Addams’ spooky mansion that the hilarity really begins. “It’s a fun show,” says Williams, who saw the Broadway version in 2011 with Brooke Shields in the role of Morticia. “And it’s funny. We haven’t really done a true comedy piece in our time and this gives the kids a chance to practice the art of comedy.” Goodburn agrees. “The challenge of the piece is portraying the comedy, delivering the lines with the right pace and energy,” he continues. “That said, the kids have really embraced the ghoulish, dark nature of the show.”
This production attracted the largest number of students ever wanting to be part of the musical, so the team made the decision to have two casts. Aptly named the Creepy cast and the Kooky cast, a double set of performers means more students have more moments on stage either as lead characters or in specific ensemble roles. The ensemble in The Addams Family Musical are known as the Ancestors, each with an individual personality. All are long departed Addams family members who take to the stage complete with ghostlike costuming. Without giving too much away, amongst the Ancestors is a Marilyn Monroe type character, a flapper from the 1920s, a caveman, and other quirky and identifiable characters from times past.
“We’ve tried to draw out the personalities of the Ancestors so you get to learn a little bit about each one of them and their history,” says Goodburn. Of the ‘living’ Addams family, Goodburn says: “They are very odd looking, and yet they have really strong family traditions. They stick together, they support each other. They are ‘out there’, they are weird, yet they are more together than a lot of family units of today. They love each other and put each other first. The whole turmoil in the musical is about the possibility of Wednesday leaving and the family unit potentially breaking down, so they try everything in their odd way to keep the family together, with devastating effects in some cases. And it’s the Beinekes, who are supposed to be ‘normal’, who are actually a crumbling family unit.”
Stepping into the roles of Morticia and Wednesday in the Kooky cast are Year 12 students Tayla Prime and Hannah Hamilton respectively, with Jordan Tomljenovic as Gomez and Year 10 student Harry Fiedler as Uncle Fester. All have been performing in youth musicals for years, with Hannah winning her dream role of Wednesday after first performing the songs at musical theatre camp some years ago. “I’ve always wanted to play Wednesday,” she says. “It’s really exciting as Scotch has never done a musical like this before.” Tayla is equally enthusiastic. “It’s great to have an ensemble of leads to work with this year,” she says.
Of her character, Tayla says: “Morticia is really dramatic and controlling…she wears the pants in the relationship and it’s going to be a real challenge to play her.” Both concede to the difficulties of balancing Year 12 commitments and the musical. “Learning all my lines has been the most challenging part for me,” says Hannah. “There’s a lot of dialogue.”
Helping them every step of the way is new addition to the team Briony Nickels, who, as well as Musical Director, is also acting as the co-ordinator between cast and creative team. No mean feat with over 60 students, many of whom are juggling multiple activities including professional and non-professional performing commitments. “I will admit it was a little bit daunting joining the team this year as there are high standards in place,” she says. “It’s been a challenge to meet the standards that have been set, but I’ve been very well supported.”
Those high standards include two Curtain Call nominations for Scotch College’s 2015 musical Jesus Christ Superstar, including Best Show in the Youth Theatre category and a nomination for Ben Francis as Jesus in the Best Young Performer category; a huge achievement for a high school. Scotch also featured in the 2016 Theatre Association of South Australia’s MusiCAL Awards with old scholar Tayla Coad winning the Youth Performer Award for her performance as Peggy in last year’s production of 42nd Street.
So what can audiences expect this time around for Scotch College’s annual musical? “Don’t take it too seriously, just have fun, enjoy yourself and support the next wave of talented students,” says Adam. Challenge accepted.
The Addams Family Musical
Scotch College, Carruth Road, Torrens Park SA 5062
Season dates: 28, 29 July at 7pm, 30 July at 3pm, 3, 4, 5 Aug at 7pm
Adults $30 Child/Conc $20