West Hartford’s Conard High School Musical Productions will present ‘The Addams Family’ in West Hartford for two weekends beginning March 11, 2016.
By Ronni Newton
Conard High School students perfectly capture the wonderful weirdness of Gomez (Gerson Echevarria) and Morticia (Grace Downes) Addams and the rest of their family in the original story from the Broadway production that involves a grown-up Wednesday Addams (Zoe Schaefer) who wants to marry a “sweet, smart young man from a respectable family.”
The cast takes a popular and very complicated show and executes it delightfully, in a beautifully-designed set. The ghostly “ancestors” of the ensemble cast, who double as stage crew, expertly complete the strange and spooky aura.
The storyline, according to a news release, focuses on “every father’s nightmare” – a daughter falling in love with someone who is very different. However in the case of the Addams Family – “different” means “normal.”
When Wednesday Addams falls in love with Lucas Beineke (Miles Brown), she tells her father but swears him to secrecy. “Now, Gomez Addams must do something he’s never done before — keep a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia. Everything will change for the whole family on the fateful night they host a dinner for Wednesday’s ‘normal’ boyfriend and his parents,” the release states.
“We decided early on that we were going to avoid the 90s movie,” Echevarria said about how he prepared to play Gomez. Director Corinne Kravitz wanted him to have a “really big personality,” Echevarria said. The role is also very physical.
“Gomez is iconic, and when I got the role I knew I had big shoes to fill,” said Echevarria. His character has a Spanish accent and “ladies’ man” attitude.
Downes said she saw “The Addams Family” at the Bushnell, so she already knew the show when she tried out and was given the role of Morticia. “To have seen that and then be in it – it’s mind-blowing,” she said.
Gomez and Morticia dance a tango in the second act. Echevarria said his parents, who are Latino, are holding his performance up to some very high standards.
Jake Yearsley, who plays Uncle Fester, said he had seen pictures of the character and knew he was kind of weird. “But he’s really weird, and I love it,” Yearsley said. He thinks it’s great to bring this show to Conard’s own stage.
Fester’s character is bald, and Yearsley has shaved his head to keep the character authentic.
Emma Damokosh plays Alice Beineke, a character who is new to the Addams Family story. “It’s really fun and dynamic to weave her into the show and see how we fit,” she said. She said it’s also great to play a modern character.
Other lead characters include Maddie Gallinoto (Pugsley Addams) Lila Goldstein (Grandma), George Murray (Lurch), and Owen Painter (Mal Beineke).
“It takes a village,” Kravitz said, to pull off the performance of the complicated show. “This is a huge team who really works together really well.”
The cast, crew, and pit orchestra are all students, other than one professional pianist and the sound engineer. The sets are professionally-designed, but build by students and parents.
Performance dates and times are:
- Friday, March 11 at 7 p.m.
- Saturday, March 12 at 7 p.m.
- Sunday, March 13 at 2 p.m.
- Friday, March 18 at 7 p.m.
- Saturday, March 19 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $15.00 and advance purchase online at www.conardhighschoolmusical.com is recommended to ensure availability. If any tickets remain they will be sold at the door. There are a limited number of wheelchair accessible seats.
All performances will be held in the Conard High School auditorium, 110 Beechwood Rd., West Hartford, CT.
Any questions can be directed to Anne Coon at [email protected].
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THE ADDAMS FAMILY A NEW MUSICAL Book by MARSHALL BRICKMAN and RICK ELICE
Music and Lyrics by ANDREW LIPPA Based on Characters Created by Charles Addams Originally produced on Broadway by Stuart Oken, Roy Furman, Michael Leavitt, Five Cent Productions, Stephen Schuler, Decca Theatricals, Scott M. Delman, Stuart Ditsky, Terry Allen Kramer, Stephanie P. McClelland, James L. Nederlander, Eva Price, Jam Theatricals/Mary LuRoffe, Pittsburgh CLO/Gutterman-Swinsky, Vivek Tiwary/Gary Kaplan, The Weinstein Company/Clarence, LLC, Adam Zotovich/Tribe Theatricals
By Special Arrangement with Elephant Eye Theatrical