By VICKI LI
The 2017 Spring Musical The Addams Family is opening this week and will be showing from Thursday, April 20 to Saturday, April 22 and Thursday, April 27 to Saturday, April 29 at 7 PM in the Big Theatre.
Tickets are available online at www.seatyourself.biz/iusd for $7 on opening night this Thursday, and then $13 for regular seating and $20 for orchestra seating every other night.
The Addams Family was originally a 2010 Broadway musical comedy with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa about a quirky American family obsessed with the grotesque and grim.
“The Addams Family has been a fan favorite in the college and high school theatre realms,” Director Ranae Bettger (Visual and Performing Arts Dept.) said. “Student performers love the exaggerated characters and clear ensemble identities the show provides, and technicians love the creative designs that the ghoulish world allows them to realize.”
The musical was based on a cartoon created by Charles Addams in 1938.
“The Addams Family is such a unique musical because unlike our other productions, we are portraying characters that have existed for over fifty years,” performer Shaden Ahadi (Jr.) said.
Unlike some of the TV and film adaptations, the musical’s plot focuses on how the family members adjust to changes in their lifestyle, especially with the children growing up.
“The most exciting part of this process for me has been exploring my character, Wednesday, and incorporating the many adaptations of her into my performance,” Ahadi said. “Portraying a character that has always been depicted as young, emotionless and sadistic, and having to develop her into affectionate and mature woman has been a challenge for me, but it has also given me a special connection to my character.”
The technical crew and the cast are both composed of talented individuals with varying performing arts experience.
“This year, Uni Theatre Arts was blessed with a powerhouse group,” Bettger said on her cast and crew. “It’s not very often a director has multiple options for leading roles, an ensemble of emerging triple threats and a team of technicians anxious to showcase their creativity.”
The tech crew, one of the unsung heroes of theater production, has been working tirelessly since January 24 to create a 1920s style set and to ensure all technical elements function properly every night.
“I’m excited to showcase all the hardwork of all the crew members,” crew lead Alice Liu (Sr.) said. “This year’s tech is dedicated; we’ve managed to pull together the show through thick and thin.”
“…This is my first musical as a designer and crew lead, and it’s cool to be in charge of a crew and to make decisions for myself,” another crew lead Deja Allen (So.) added.
Because there are many technical elements (sound, lighting, set and scenery, to name a few) to take care of, it is crucial that every year new “techies,” the nickname for tech crew members, join the program to fill up spots of graduating seniors.
“[Tech] is definitely growing. There are a lot of new freshmen interested in hair, makeup and costuming this year,” Allen said.
Time is a big challenge during the set-building process.
“We only had a few weeks to do this and the set had to go up in around three to four Saturdays, so that was tough,” Allen said on the overall creation process.
One of the main differences that makes the Spring Musical arguably livelier than the Fall Play is the addition of the Pit Orchestra.
The Pit started rehearsing in February and has been working with the tech and crew since March 27 under conductor and UHS alum Roger Wu Fu, the assistant instructor in the band program.
“This musical is a lot newer than [last year’s musical] The Pajama Game, so the music is pretty different. The composers mixed a bunch of different styles into the music, which I think is really cool,” trumpet player Sonia Kelly (Jr.) said. “I’m really excited to perform the show for the school because I think it’s a really accessible play that students will find really funny. It’s the type of humor that our generation enjoys.”
The UHS Theatre Arts Department is known to be a welcoming community open to everyone that has a passion for performing. Many UHS seniors starring in the show have never performed in a theater production before, and some did not have previous formal performing arts training at all.
“I wanted to do the musical because I like to try new things and take on challenges,” Dillon Sun (Sr.) reflected on his first and final production at UHS.
Starring in the musical requires a wide skill set not just limited to memorizing lines and lyrics.
“I definitely would like to say [vocal director] Mr. Olvey, [choreographer] Chris Stuart, and Mrs. Bettger helped me a long way from where I was in November to where I am now. I learned vocal exercises, how to access the range of notes I can hit and how to project my voice. I learned to tango, count rhythm, strike poses… how to apply makeup, perform in character and control facial expressions,” Sun said about why he appreciates this opportunity.
The main challenge that came up in the making of the musical is the shortage of money.
“We knew that we were at a point where we needed to hire a vocal coach, choreographer, technical director and pit conductor… and that large of a staff costs $15,000,” Bettger said. “This cost doesn’t even count any of the actual items (props, costumes, etc) that the audience would ‘see,’ and we also needed to invest in new microphone and sound equipment.”
However, the parents, cast and crew came together in a community effort to gather donations and sell promotional items at Clubapalooza.
“I am so grateful that I have been able to create alongside [my students] and facilitate their growth as artists and adults,” Bettger said. “I hope that as our seniors venture off to the world to create their own paths, they will take alongside them the lessons not only of this show, but the wisdom they have gained from their cumulative high school experiences.”
The main characters of the musical include Wednesday Addams played by Ahadi, Lucas Beineke played by Benjamin Sui (Sr.), Mal Beineke played by Mitchell Rogers (Jr.), Alice Beineke played by Sarika Mande (Jr.), Gomez played by Dalton Nguyen (Jr.), Morticia played by Ellena Eshraghi (Jr.), Grandma played by Ana Fujimoto (Sr.), Pugsly played by Rose Koo (Fr.), Lurch played by Franklin Duffy (Jr.) and Fester played by Corinne Alsop (Sr.).