Arts Feature

Alexandra Grant (centre) fronts the company of The Addams Family: A New Musical in rehearsal. The show runs September 16 – 27 (photo credit: The Grand Theatre).

The Grand Theatre (471 Richmond Street) High School Project presents The Addams Family: A New Musical, September 16 – 27. For tickets, call 519-672-8800.

The Addams Family: Fall High School Project goes Goth

Amie Ronald-Morgan

Everyone snap your fingers – The Addams Family have moved into the Grand Theatre!

The marvellously macabre bunch is taking over this month as the High School Project brings The Addams Family: A New Musical to the Mainstage from September 16 to 27.

These iconic characters have enjoyed many incarnations though the decades, most recently in the comedic musical by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, which debuted on Broadway in 2010. 

Previously they made their mark on 90s culture with two popular feature films, The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993).

Older generations became acquainted with this quirky bunch on the black-and-white sitcom that ran on ABC in the mid-60s.

But many would be surprised that the family’s history predates the original TV series.

“The Addams Family actually had their start as a single-panel cartoon that Charles Addams created for The New Yorker in the 1930s,” explained Susan Ferley, artistic director of the Grand Theatre and High School Project director.

“The Addams Family, of course, takes their name from him, and the characters we all came to know evolved out of that cartoon,” she added.

Secondary students from London and area jumped at the chance to be part of this fall’s High School Project, which gives youth the exclusive opportunity to mount a full production under the guidance of industry professionals in a working theatre environment. 

Now in its 17th season, the program is the only one of its kind in North America. 

When the students came in to interview and audition for a coveted spot last spring, Ferley asked them what their experiences had been with the Addams Family.

“When we first met, I asked ‘what engages you, what delights you about this family?’ The team that created this musical has done some really wonderful Broadway work like Jersey Boys, so some of the students were aware of it. Others referenced the movies, so they were familiar with the characters from that. In working on this show, however, I think the students have been surprised by how much humour there actually is in the piece,” Ferley remarked.

The story concerns Wednesday Addams (played by Alexandra Grant), who has fallen in love with a ‘normal’ boy, Lucas Beineke (John Fellner). It’s a bittersweet time for Gomez (Henry Firmston) and Morticia (Emma Heidenheim), who realize their little girl is growing up – and wonder where they must have gone wrong that she would want to marry someone so decidedly un-Goth.

Worlds collide – with much hilarity – after Wednesday invites Lucas’ parents (played by Laura Martineau and Fynn Cuthbert) to the Addams Mansion for dinner. 

“It becomes apparent that what’s normal to this family is not normal to everyone. So the question is, what is normal, anyway? The fact is that we are all unique,” Ferley explained. 

“It has been wonderful to work with these young people as they come into an understanding of the playfulness of the show and see their appreciation of the humour as it explores what it is to love, what it is to be part of a family, what it is to grow up,” she added.

The cast also includes Will Frassinelli (Pugsley), Ben Kopp (Uncle Fester), Riley Hannon (Granny),
and Shea de Vries-Thomas (Lurch). A team of students are working hard behind the scenes in areas such as props, wardrobe, lights, stage management, and orchestra. Musical direction is provided by Floydd Ricketts.

The students are not the only ones learning new things on this production.

“It’s been a great adventure for me too to find out more about Charles Addams. He did all these things in his life to nurture a certain impression of himself, to add more mystery around these characters he created,” Ferley explained.

“But what he did was use humour to try and dispel fear, whether about death or separation, he found a way to incorporate that into his work. So it’s been wonderful working on this script and working with these young people.”




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