GREENFIELD — They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, and you can see them this weekend on stage as Greenfield-Central High School presents the musical “The Addams Family.”
Based on the cartoons originally drawn by Charles Addams for “New Yorker” magazine, the show draws heavily from “The Addams Family” sitcom (1964 to 1966) for character behavior.
Allie Dinkens plays Wednesday, and she admits to a certain amount of preparation before the March auditions. Only a sophomore, but still a veteran of Greenfield-Central drama with parts in past productions such as “The Crucible” and “Mary Poppins,” she is excited about her first lead role.
In theater, it’s bad form to sing an audition song from the show, so Dinkens opted to sing “I’m Not That Girl” from “Wicked,” a song that she felt fit the character of Wednesday. Dinkens also said she believes her vocal range and the fact that she looked the part of Wednesday, with her long dark hair, were factors in being cast in the role.
Dinkens’ biggest challenge in playing Wednesday is being mean enough.
“That’s the hardest part,” Dinkens said, “because I’m known as a nice person around here.”
Although Wednesday is a dark and moody girl, Dinkens said, she and the character of Wednesday have something in common.
“Wednesday cares a lot about her family,” Dinkens said, “and I love my family a lot.”
Senior Harrison Kern, recent winner of the vocal competition for the George and Icy Vaughn Performing Arts Scholarship, is cast in the role of Gomez, the patriarch of the Addams family. He, too, put study and research into his audition.
Kern has been in Greenfield-Central drama productions since he was a freshman and has been cast in a number of leading roles, including Mr. Banks in “Mary Poppins” and Thomas Putnam in “The Crucible.”
Kern chose an audition song he hoped would show a variety of emotions and his range as an actor. He researched the part and watched YouTube clips of actor Nathan Lane playing the part in the Broadway production to get an idea of how the production should feel, he said.
Kern said he felt that his reading from the script at callbacks was what set him apart from others who were auditioning for the part. He wanted to show the director what he could do to adapt to the part of Gomez, Kern said.
“I never get to play parts that are actually that funny,” Kern said, “and I love playing parts that are goofy. Every chance I get, I go for the humor.”
Having done British accents in the past two productions, Kern said his biggest challenge is getting down Gomez’s Latin accent.
“And the dancing is something different,” Kern said, “learning the tango.”
Junior Jacob Mitchell went the extra mile to score the part of Uncle Fester. Like Kern and Dinkens, he researched actors who had previously played the role (Jackie Coogan in the TV show). His willingness to not only act the part, but also look the part, cemented his role. Mitchell actually shaved his head to play the bald and eccentric Addams family relative.
According to Mitchell, Uncle Fester is the most interesting character in the show in that he is self-aware of being in a musical. He breaks the fourth wall, a theater term meaning the actor interacts with the audience, and he even calls a change of set to keep the show moving forward.
Playing the dark and funny character of Uncle Fester is a challenge for Mitchell.
“I’m very social,” Mitchell said, “but Uncle Fester is in his own world, and you can’t look to the other actors for how to act on stage.”
As if the wacky Addams family characters weren’t humor enough, in this show even the normal people are wacky. Junior Katelyn Robinson plays Alice Beineke, the mother of Wednesday’s fiancé Lucas (played by sophomore Tanner Hord). On the outside, Alice is a normal mother and, unlike the Addamses, she dresses normally, but there’s more to Alice than meets the eye.
“Alice holds so much in,” Robinson said, “to make herself happy all the time. She rhymes her words 24/7 to make herself feel better.”
Theater program director Ted Jacobs, who has directed such classic musicals as “South Pacific,” “The Music Man” and “Guys and Dolls,” picked “The Addams Family” specifically for this group of kids.
“It’s more of a modern musical with lots of fun characters,” Jacobs said. “I personally like it for its humor, sight gags and breaking the fourth wall.”
The 65 cast members and 20 musicians in the orchestra are backed by approximately 60 crew members who take care of costumes, set construction, lights, sound and set changes. All have been working on “The Addams Family” for eight weeks and are anxious to put their show in front of an audience.
Dinkens admires the collaborative effort behind putting on a theater production: “We put a lot of passion into what we do.”
Who: Greenfield-Central High School drama department
What: “The Addams Family” musical
When: Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m.
Where: Greenfield-Central High School auditorium, 810 N. Broadway
Ticket Info: $10 for adults, $8 for students; call 317-462-9211 ext. 34121 for reservations