Florida School of the Arts presents “The Addams Family,” a new musical comedy
Addams Family fans, get ready to laugh as you join in on a wild ride of emotions with the new musical comedy, “The Addams Family,” by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. Florida School of the Arts students are gearing up to provide a memorable experience, filled with fun and quirkiness, from February 25 - 27 at 7:30 p.m. and on February 28 at 2:30 p.m. on the FloArts main stage on the St. Johns River State College Palatka campus. Tickets are $5.
The story begins when Wednesday Addams reveals that she is in love, and “ordinary” guests have been invited to dinner. Although both families have been instructed to “act normal,” delightful chaos is guaranteed to supervene.
According to FloArts acting student Jeno Tate, “The Addams Family” will take patrons along on a hilariously magical journey of fun and disarray as the characters reach down into the darkest secrets of their hearts and bring life to the stage in a family-friendly environment. Tate describes his character, Mal Beineke, as a husband and father who is strictly set on protecting his family from themselves and the foolishness of others. “The Addams and Beineke families attempt to share one normal night together for the sake of their children, who have hopelessly fallen in love with each other,” Tate said.
FloArts acting instructor and play director Kevin Kelly said that while most people are already familiar with the play’s unique characters, one of the fun challenges the students have faced is to figure out how to take that defined image and find a creative freedom within. Kelly encourages audience members to leave all preconceived notions about the ghoulish family outside the door and let the actors reveal the unforeseeable plot.
What else can the audience expect? “Fun,” Kelly blurted out. “I really, really, really want the actors to have fun,” he said. “I want them to have fun delivering the show to the audience.”
The set design will also set the tone for a great deal of fun. According to FloArts scenic design instructor Robert O’Leary, the set will provide a rich background for the ridiculousness that is the Addams Family legend. “From torture instruments to two-headed turtles, there should be some odd and oddly familiar things to delight the crowd,” O’Leary said.
O’Leary explained how the original idea for “The Addams Family” was born out of Charles Addams’ cartoons illustrated for “The New Yorker” magazine. It went from a cartoon, to a TV show, books, comic books, pinball machines, an animated series, movies, and on to become a Broadway musical. “Depending on one’s age, everyone bears a bit of nostalgia for one or many of these versions,” O’Leary said. “The set will have a layered look that nods to a bit of each of these layers that have become the overall conception of this quirky, but somehow quite normal, American family.”
The costumes will do the same. FloArts costume design instructor Emily Strickland said, “The costume designs also center around the iconic characters and images from the original illustrations, television series and movie adaptations.”
The music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa are also layered in peculiarities. Stephanie Masterson, FloArts musical director, explained, “The music is new, fresh and fun, and most of the lyrics are clever, yet quirky. It IS the Addams Family for goodness sake,” she exclaimed. “There are a few tender ballads that will steal your heart, and for the die-hard Addams Family fans, you might hear a theme that you know quite well,” she said with a wink.
What’s all this fun and quirkiness without dancing? FloArts choreographer and modern dance instructor Mary Love Ward said that one of the most exciting things represented in this musical is the variety of dance forms that are showcased. The audience will see traditional Broadway jazz, a kickline number, and a Busby Berkeley style of work with influences from synchronized swimming. Patrons can also expect a mash-up of historic social dances, with a reference to ‘The Lurch,’ a ‘60s sensation that was directly inspired by the character. “The audience will also be energized by a dynamic tango piece with elements of flamenco,” Ward said. “Because this is a musical comedy, the emphasis on the cast members exploring many different styles of dance has been to simply have fun and let loose,” Ward added.
As with all Florida School of the Arts performances, the goal is to develop the students’ talent and skills by providing unique performance and production challenges. Ward said that “The Addams Family” provides a great opportunity to achieve this goal. “The variety of dance helps expand the students’ range as performers,” she said.
Kelly agreed. “Every time we approach a new play, it has its own unique learning challenges, such as style and sense of humor,” he said.
With great appreciation for the many hearts, minds and hands that have gone into such a fun and diverse production, Tate invites the community to arrive with the expectation to be amazed by each hardworking hand and mind molding what he calls a masterpiece. “My time working on this production with such a talented and hardworking cast and crew has been a time I will never forget, and I am positive you won’t, either,” Tate said.
The cast is made up of Willie Beaton II as Gomez Addams, Bella Carlsen as Morticia Addams, Gordia Hayes as Uncle Fester, Maisha Esdaile as Grandma, Caitlin Sweeney as Wednesday Addams, Kiersten Bartholomew as Pugsley Addams, Steven Austin as Lurch, Jeno Tate as Mal Beineke, Ilana Gould as Alice Beineke, and Briar Boggs as Lucas Beineke.
“The Addams Family” ancestors are portrayed by: Olivia Bleak, bride; Yul Carrion, Shakespeare; Austin Carroll, 1920s gambler; Savannah Faulkner, flight attendant; Bella Guzman, saloon girl; Ed Marin, caveman; Pascale Molina, Indian princess; Havilah Moore, Viking; Brooke Ponitz, Marie Antoinette; Emerson Smith-von Wiegen, conquistador; Emma Stimpson, flapper; and Mark Anthony Rodriguez-Wildman, paratrooper.
While these 22 students will be seen on stage, there are also those tirelessly working behind the scenes to help make all the action happen. Highlighting some of them, O’Leary said, “Ashlee Philpott is our lighting designer for this production. She has created an extensive light plot to play into the fantastic world that we are creating. From the sweet little family moments to extravagant dance numbers, her light will surely please the audience.”
“Savannah Healy is our sound designer and engineer,” O’Leary continued, “and will have a lot of work on her hands as she runs the music and a large cast worth of microphones into a successful live mix.”
O’Leary continued with Jason Correia’s role as student technical director. “He’s been doing a great job running work crews and organizing a large build with a good bit of moving scenery,” he said. “And, Anthony Antunez is our properties master, which is not the easiest of jobs in a show full of the ridiculous things the Addams are known for.”
Those responsible for outfitting the performers are: Rachel Allen, Katy Page, Emily Vaughn and Angel Warren, costume crafts; Rachel Allen and Strickland, costume designers; Mitchell Collins, assistant to the costume designer; Tracy Floyd, costume shop manager; Collins, J. H. Gallardo, Page, Vaughn and Warren, cutters/drapers; Alyssa Marie Clarke and Alex Negron, first hands; and Briar Boggs, Bella Carlsen, Brendan Fogarty, Brittni Garcia, Ilana Gould, Megan Lee, Brandon Mayes and Alexa Williams, stitchers.
Other members of this talented production crew are: Todd Allen, production stage manager; Kylee Risdon, stage manager; Caitlin Charrier and Libby Rodriguez, assistant stage managers; Jason Correia, technical director; Joseph Grosso, assistant director; Kate Patterson, assistant musical director; Danielle English, production assistant; Doug Brown, scene shop supervisor and staff technical director; Austin Carroll and Havilah Moore, dance captains; Anthony Antunez, properties master; Searcy Holley, master electrician and light board operator; Savannah Healy, paint charge and sound board operator; W. Chris Gaston, assistant sound engineer and sound board operator; and Katie Blaylock and Luis Colon, assistant properties.
Carpenters, painters and electricians are: Samuel Alvarado, Antunez, Michael Baker, Willie Beaton II, Victoria Blair, Blaylock, Colon, Correia, Jibri DuRant, Tatiyana Firth, Gaston, Brett Glisson, Anna Guzman, Healy, Holley, Emma Kriausky, William Larson, Megan Leclair and Philpott. Stage hands are Colon, Correia, Firth, Larson, Dillon Leone and Charlie Sykes.
Florida School of the Arts students, from left, Caitlin Sweeney (Wednesday), Willie Beaton II (Gomez) and Bella Carlsen (Morticia) practice their menacing faces in preparation for the new musical comedy, “The Addams Family.” The play runs February 25-28.