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PEMCO to stage ‘The Addams Family’

| Thursday, October 25, 2018

Extravagant. Hilarious. Unexpected. Spooky. Heartwarming. Larger than life.

These are the words that come to mind when the cast and crew of the Pasquerilla East Musical Company (PEMCo) are asked to describe their newest production.

PEMCo is bringing to life America’s kookiest family for its fall 2019 show. A mix between the hysterical, the heartfelt and the macabre, “The Addams Family” will run Oct. 25-26 at 7:00 p.m. and Oct. 27 at 3:30 p.m. in Washington Hall.

Courtesy of Clare Strickland

Junior Rachel Thomas, who plays Morticia, and the female ensemble of “The Addams Family” rehearse.

When asked about the motivation behind producing this musical, director and junior Joseph Larson said that besides it being a great show for Halloween time, he was inspired by two attractions at Disneyland familiar to him since childhood.

“There are these two rides, the Haunted Mansion and Snow White’s Scary Adventure, that are so fun and spooky — they’re hooky — and there’s this kind of fairytale aesthetic to them, and I’ve always thought the Addams Family has this great, fantastical, whimsical way of being dark and, like, unusual, but they’re also so much fun,” he said. “And, so, I tried to build that into this world. So we have a lot of moving parts. It kind of feels like a fairytale to me.”

“The Addams Family” has been a staple of popular culture since its creation in 1938, a characteristic that executive director of PEMCo and co-technical director for the show, Clare Strickland, said the show’s longevity is helpful. However, she recognized that these established expectations presented a challenge as well, as Larson had to “take these common interpretations and also find a way to make it his own,” Strickland said.

Though the characters of the story are widely renowned, PEMCo’s production of “The Addams Family” promises to deliver a version different from what the general public is used to seeing in the popular television series, cartoons and movies.

“We see Wednesday, and she’s all grown up and she wants to get married,” Larson said. “So, what’s been so great about the Addams family is that the image that we have of them is family and love and all this great stuff. And so we kind of get to see the Addams family in this next stage of their lives and see what happens when their kids grow up, what happens when they want to move on with their lives, how does that work in the Addams family world.”

Though the idea of Wednesday Addams and her “not sunny disposition” falling in love might be shocking, senior Shane Nolan, who plays Gomez — the patriarch of the group — believes that the marital issues between his character and Morticia will certainly surprise the audience as well.

“The most shocking difference is that everyone knows Gomez and Morticia as this like very romantic lovey couple,” Nolan said. “And, in this show, they can’t be seen like that the whole time because this is just one of the few instances that we ever see that they’re in a fight, almost … I don’t think you get to see that in the movies and television. Everyone kind of just takes for granted that ‘Oh, this is a couple and they’re so in love and they’re so sensual and into each other,’ and in this one you get to see the darker part of a romantic relationship.”

For her part, junior Rachel Thomas, who plays Morticia, believes that the musical aspect of the play will be a bombshell for the audience.

“I think that is going to get them [the audience] is the way that we portray them through song,” she said. “So, like Morticia has two really great songs that are, like, funny but also very, very, very Morticia, same with Wednesday, same with Gomez. It’s just put … in a bigger way because music amplifies everything … I don’t think people will be expecting such a big spectacle out of a TV show where there was no singing.”

Yet, besides these differences, the show is Addams to the core, a melting pot — or cauldron — where the whimsical, spooky and outlandish harmonize with family values and amity.

“It is a new and funny take on an old tale,” Thomas said.

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