The Addams Family is a well-known, iconic franchise containing several movies – both animated and live action – as well as a musical and popular TV series, featuring a ghoulish family with an exclusive appeal to things occult and death-related. However, the musical follows a different storyline. An exclusive interview with Sussex University’s Musical Theatre Society gave us an insight on the behind-the-scenes of their production of The Addams Family.
As summarised by director Charlie, “I think the central issue is people’s relationships with each other. It starts with Wednesday falling in love with a boy called Lucas, who is very normal, and doesn’t seem to work in the context of The Addams Family. I think it’s a lot about him trying to find his place in this family alongside Wednesday. There’s also Gomez and Morticia having marital issues.”
In terms of the process and what it took to put this show together, cast members Pandora and Elliot, who play Morticia and Lucas respectively, were more than happy to describe the audition process. “We warmed up together, then danced as a group, then you went in smaller groups to perform this dance. It was one by one for both singing and acting. After this it was callbacks, and it was a similar process again. We did a read through with another character to see if we had the right chemistry.”
It’s no secret that performing takes a lot of work, Pandora and Elliot described what it was like overcoming the hardest parts. Pandora told of her experience: “I’ve been in musicals before but this is the first time I’ve had solos. I thought it would be more scary than it is. Acting is my favourite part and I’ve done acting for a long time. I enjoy the singing too but it’s definitely the hardest part for me.” Elliot/Lucas doesn’t have his own number in the show, elaborating, “I definitely prefer dancing of the three (singing, dancing, acting) so when I saw I wasn’t getting my own song I wasn’t very down about it because I still get a little time to shine with my parts in other songs.”
An interview with Charlie gave me the chance to ask “Why The Addams Family?” Charlie said it was about doing something different: “Last year’s production was Footloose, and I was thinking about what the society has done in its previous years and what might be new because The Addams Family has quite a different aesthetic. I was thinking about something that was in the current culture, which was The Addams Family. Wednesday (Netflix series) came out and I think we wanted to take advantage of that when picking the show.”
The Addams Family and Footloose are vastly different shows. While both iconic and with many adaptations, Footloose is a colourful spectacle centered around dancing and the feel-good nostalgia of the 80s. On the other hand, The Addams Family is a heavy juxtaposition with its spooky, black-and-white aesthetic centred around the macabre. Charlie also confirmed that this year’s ensemble for The Addams Family is smaller than the number of cast members they had in the year prior for Footloose.
When asking both Charlie and producer Libby if they had difficulties bringing their vision to stage they said, “It’s always a process of collaboration in a way, we haven’t had difficulties like that yet because we did the casting so well. We didn’t go in with such a set interpretation of the characters, it was very nice to see what people bring themselves. It’s very nice to have performers who are switched on. It makes everything so easy to work with.”
Libby described some of the events behind the scenes and the work that goes on to put on a production. This year’s consists almost entirely of the same production team as last – just in different roles. That didn’t change their rhythm, however, as “Everyone had an idea of what they were doing and what role they’d be in.” She also confirmed that they were able to fill in more niche roles through interviews they held for new people to join backstage through their creative director. I believe new additions to the cast and the behind-the-scenes team will only introduce our University to the many more talented people we have on campus, and encourage more to engage with SMUTS and other forms of creativity.
I myself was given the privilege of watching the cast perform ‘Tango de Amor.’ At such an early stage of rehearsals, it was so clear to see the passion, hard work and talent that has gone into this collaborative piece – from everyone involved. For such an iconic show, it was incredible to see how SMUTS has made it their own. Congratulations to everyone, both behind the scenes and in them!
The team expressed excitement to show their production of The Addams Family. The show runs from the 21st to the 24th of February. Tickets should be on sale from December, so make sure you don’t miss out!