The Addams Family set to premiere Halloween night


The poster for The Addams Family, opening Halloween night.

Varshini Ramanathan, Editor-in-Chief

At 7:00 on Halloween night, a fall musical fitting for the Grey Ghosts will be coming to Westford Academy: The Addams Family, a comedy written by Andrew Lippa and based on the comic series by Charles Addams. The WA production is directed by Dr. Luke Jorgensen with junior Elle Whitehead as Assistant Director.

The Addamses are most well-known as stars of the TV show The Addams Family, which aired from 1964-1966. The premise remains the same between the show and the musical, in which a family with ties to the dead deals with their uniquely supernatural lives. The musical delves into this plot with a storyline about the oldest child, Wednesday, and her boyfriend Lucas Beineke, as they try to bring his exceedingly normal parents together with her exceedingly eccentric family.

The play stars senior Emily Sawosik as Wednesday Addams, sophomore Jack Pappas as Lucas Beineke, junior Cordelia Redmond as Wednesday’s mother Morticia, sophomore Thomas Sanders as her father Gomez, senior Eric Bicunas as her brother Pugsley, and senior Matt Mantenuto as her uncle Fester.

Many Westford parents and grandparents grew up watching The Addams Family, and as such this musical is a chance for the entire WA community to come together, according to Whitehead.

“Parents can appreciate it because it’s their childhood, and then they can bring their kids and a new generation can see and experience The Addams Family,” she said

Additionally, while the story invokes nostalgia for the older generation, teenagers can connect to the play as well by relating to the problems Wednesday and Lucas face.

“Each child is afraid that the other family won’t accept them […] it’s closer to the things that [students] might be thinking or feeling, [but] set in this incredibly bizarre world of monsters and all that,” said Director Luke Jorgensen.

Westford Academy has run the gamut of musical genres in past years, from classics like Les Misérables (2013), dark coming-of-age stories like Spring Awakening (2016), and most recently Disney, with 2017’s The Little Mermaid. 2018 brings a comedy to the table for the first time in many years.

Jorgensen has experience working with WATA but rarely tackles the school’s hallmark fall musical. When it comes to realizing a comedy production, he stresses the importance of understanding the emotions beneath the humor.

So we really just sort of let the visuals be one thing, but really play that there’s just a normal family who wants what other people want, it’s just that there’s gargoyles and everything’s dark,” he said. 

In keeping with the show’s supernatural theme, Jorgensen accelerated the rehearsal process so that they could premiere on October 31. The fall musical normally opens around Thanksgiving, meaning that the production had to be ready nearly a month in advance.

The principal roles were cast last spring so that the cast could begin to review roles and hit the ground running at the beginning of the school year. As opening night approaches, the cast is spending day and night working to master the show on time.

“On certain days, they’re working after school with the music director them with me at night, locking the show [in]. […] There was no just getting into school relaxing for a minute, it was just go, go, go.”

The crew and orchestra have also been giving their all to The Addams Family. Senior Shannon Tierney, who plays trumpet in the orchestra, explains that the ensemble has had to work hard not just in rehearsal but in individual practice in order to prepare the music.

In addition to the early premiere, the music is demanding. The ensemble is small, meaning that all the musicians have to be on their game, and the pieces are rhythmically demanding.

“We met with the cast of the show for the first time only a couple of weeks before the first performance, but individual progress and cross-ensemble communication were the most crucial elements to prepping our music on time and to the caliber that this musical demands,” she said. “I find that many of the musicians flourish in the pressure of this environment, because we reap the benefits of having a great show and working together as a team.”

However, the extra work is worth it for not just the orchestra but all the members of The Addams Family. It brings the WATA and Westford communities various benefits, from challenging the cast with a new genre to bringing generations together to simply providing a barrel of laughs for the audience.

“If you think in terms of the high school, I think it’s just terrific that students get to try a different type of theatre but I think in terms of the full community, boy, I think everybody needs to laugh right now,” said Jorgensen.

The Addams Family will show on October 31, November 2, November 3, November 8, and November 10 at 7:00, November 10 at 2:00, and November 11 at 5:00.