The McDowell Center for Performing Arts’ latest production brings the classic, hilarious characters of the Addams Family series to the Little Theatre stage.
The show revolves around the off the wall, creepy, kooky, mysterious Addams family as the eldest child, Wednesday (Cara Niebling), is falling in love. Her new fiance, however, is a totally normal boy from Ohio named Lucas Beineke (Joe Gallagher), whose family is the complete opposite of the Addams family.
Starting as a satirical comic strip that began in the 1930s, the Addams family’s antics progressed into live-action and animated television shows, video games, movies and parodies of the characters on other shows throughout the decades that followed.
Although the characters out date the students, the musical’s Broadway debut was in 2010, making the story and humor more modern in tone and setting than more traditional musicals, like Guys and Dolls.
“It’s a really funny show,” said Josh Rohrbach, a junior who is part of the show’s ensemble of creepy Addams family ancestors. “The whole plot is very interesting as well as the humor that is incorporated into it,” he explained.
Brent Johnson, the director of the show, added, “The whole show is filled with big dance numbers, great music, and the Addams Family humor.”
In addition to the student talent, the show will use some interesting technical theater techniques and special effects to create the illusion that a character is floating. The program also uses makeup to make the ancestors look like they’re dead. The show is regarded by Ryan Sesler, a sophomore playing an Addams family ancestor, as “one of the most risque shows that McDowell has done.” Rohrbach further explained that they had to cut out some of the jokes and lines because they were too suggestive for a high school stage. Johnson wanted to make sure the production was still family friendly.
For many of the McDowell seniors involved in the Center for Performing Arts, The Addams Family is the last musical show they will be a part of at McDowell. After four years in this program, their high school theater careers will come to a close. Seniors Cara Niebling and Anna Przybylinski play Wednesday and Morticia, the latter being the mother of the Addams children, reflected on their time with the program. Niebling gave acclaim to all the work they do in rehearsals and the results it gets them. “I’m very proud of our shows. I feel like there are times with anything you get frustrated and overwhelmed, but with our shows it really pays off,”
Niebling is going to college for musical theater and has already gotten accepted into two schools. She said that the Center for Performing Arts prepared her by providing her with opportunities. “The amount of shows helps. We’re always busy always doing stuff, and experience is your best friend when you’re trying to grow in anything,” she said.
Przybylinski was a transfer student from Villa Maria Academy last year, so she praised the program for being so friendly. “Knowing people in the program helped me make friends, and they were really welcoming, which is hard to find because usually when you’re a junior coming into a new school, especially because it’s so big, you usually don’t make as many friends so easily. I think that was something that was comforting — that the program is just accepting of everyone.”
The students that are not graduating also shared their thoughts about the seniors leaving this year. Joe Gallagher, a junior playing Lucas, said, “It’s going to be hard for me to let go of all memories I’ve gained with them and all the things we’ve gone through. I just want to say thank you to all of them.”
As an underclassman, Sesler has looked up to these students, saying, “They have been my role models since I was a freshman.”
Those interested in seeing the seniors’ last musical can contact the box office at (814) 835-6925 or see Mr. Johnson in room 6-105 at McDowell Intermediate High School. The show runs from Thursday, March 30, 31, and April 1 at 7 p.m. and April 2 at 2:30 p.m. in the Little Theatre.