It is perhaps fitting that the Bainbridge High School Theatre Club has chosen for what is to be the final performance in the storied LGI — soon slated for remodeling as part of a larger campus improvement project— a show featuring the family that puts the fun in funeral.
Da da da dum, snap snap.
This musical portrayal of the infamous Addams Family, opening Friday, May 10, which debuted on Broadway in 2010 featuring Nathan Lane as Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia, sees the creepy clan’s annual graveyard visit to celebrate their heritage with ancestors (living, dead, and undecided alike) interrupted by Wednesday’s having invited her new (ostensibly normal) fiancé Lucas and his parents over for dinner. And though she loves her family, everyone’s favorite goth girl is worried about making the right impression because, well, you know.
Plus, Lucas’ family is from — gasp — Ohio! (“A swing state!” Gomez decries.)
The resulting evening sees even the unflappable Addams clan get a bit ruffled. But surely true love will prevail, right?
It’s a story about love, romantic and familial, learning to accept other people despite their differences and the ups and downs of being part of a family.
Then again, all that is nothing new for America’s favorite ghoulish gang.
“It’s [a show] we’ve talked about doing, but some of the kids knew it, some of them didn’t … and they were thinking [of something] more serious before, because they’d been doing more comedic [works], but now they’re totally ready and the more they do it the more fun they have,” said D’Arcy Clements, the show’s director.
“Especially after doing ‘Rent’ last time, which is more serious, more deep, this one is very macabre but at the same time it’s quite funny, and also gave the tech person the opportunity to design these massive amazing set pieces. They really went all out.”
It’s the kind of material that inspires adoration — no matter the medium.
Since their first appearances (single-panel cartoons, most often published in the New Yorker) between 1938 and creator Charles Addams’ death in 1988, on through an iconic (though short-lived) television series, novelizations, an animated series, something like six video games, one pinball machine and three (soon to be four) feature films, Morticia, Gomez, Uncle Fester, Lurch, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandmama, Thing, Cousin Itt and all the rest have been teaching audiences the joys of life, death and family — though not necessarily in that order.
“This has just kind of brought the fun out of a lot of different people,” Clements said. “On the back wall, we call it the gallery because it’s pictures of all these different people, one of the teachers here at the high school had a couple of old ancestor portraits of her ancestors that creeped her out, that were staying in the closet — they are now the centerpiece of our backdrop.”
Embodying the story’s iconic leading couple are returning school stage presences Libby Clements, a junior who plays Gomez, and Lexie Taylor, a senior set to portray Morticia.
“This is the third show we’ve done together … so we know each other pretty well and we’ve been on stage together,” Lexie said.
“It feels like a fairly natural relationship,” Libby agreed, “because I put myself in the mindset of my character, since I’m more of a method actor than anything else, I really become Gomez and then I actually feel like she is my wife.”
Lexie said she is an Addams Family fan from way back, and a proponent of doing the show from the start.
“It’s really, really fun,” she said. “I’ve liked the Addams Family since I was really small, the ‘90s movies especially. And, just in terms of my personality, I really love Halloween and I love horror movies and stuff like that, so it was kind of a dream role, really.”
Libby said she admired the way the clan accept and support each other, the vivacious patriarch especially.
“Gomez is willing to accept people for who they are,” she said. “He doesn’t really care that people are different than him, it doesn’t faze him.”
Not all the students were so familiar with the source material, though.
“It’s amazing to me how many of these guys hadn’t seen the Addams Family before this,” Clements said. “Having never been exposed to it, and some of them openly admit they had never seen it before, which is kind of fun because they’ve had a chance to explore all kind of stuff, they’ve really enjoyed developing these characters because they’re dark but comedic and they’re teenagers.”
With the LGI out of commission next year, Clements said the club would certainly be staging a traditional fall and spring show next year, but little else was certain just yet.
“The only things I’ve heard have been rumors,” she said. “We will definitely continue the program next year, it’s just a matter of figuring out where we’re going to be — maybe in somebody’s backyard, I don’t even know at this point.”
“The Addams Family” show times are 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 10; Saturday, May 11; and Friday, May 17; and 3 p.m. Saturday, May 18.
Admission is $10 per person or $8 for students with proper identification, payable at the door.
Visit the “Theatre” page, found under the “Activities” tab, at www.bisd303.org to learn more.