In the middle of the chaos of CET, I held auditions for Addams Family the Musical. The show was part of the Pentacle Theatre 2015 season. I ended up casting the 10 main characters, 12 ancestors, and eventually, 2 gargoyles (silent characters I added to help set the mood and change scenes). We began rehearsals that following week to learn music and dances. I was blessed with a great production team that followed my lead and caught my vision nicely. Although newspaper critics did not appreciate my vision, directing style, or the show itself, the audiences did like it. We ended our run with 101% ticket sales and an added performance.
Dani Potter was, once again, my assistant director and sound engineer. It is nice to be able to know that there is someone you can trust to take over rehearsal when needed and to take on a few scenes etc. Dani has worked on many shows that I have worked on and we work together all summer long. We make a good team.
MaryAnn Potter did the AMAZING costumes and led the team in creating the look for each character. She made the show a feast for the eyes. She and her assistant, Matt, have a way of creating AMAZING out of nothing… even other people’s trash.
Isaac Joyce Shaw added to that feast with creative make up designs.
Doug and Alexa Gray handled all the wigs and hair. They are true artists.
(check out the pictures to follow).
Jill Sorenson kept me organised as my Stage Manager and worked on Props with Nan Leto. Their attention to detail added to the feast for the eyes.
Jon Stuber jumped in at auditions as the Vocal/Music Director. He is AMAZING. Not only did he get the cast to sound amazing, but he got them to be the characters through their sound. He is gracious and positive and was able to encourage the cast to greatness because of his skill and attitude.
Kimber Jessop (I didn’t get a picture of her working) did a great job giving me the dances I wanted. I’m sure I frustrated her a bit when I would tell her I didn’t like something and had her change something… especially when I told her that in rehearsal. There was so much dancing to learn. She did a good job capturing the flavor of each song. Besides, it was fun to work with my eldest daughter on a show. Who knows if that will ever happen again.
Janey Jefferson was nice enough to come in for one dance, the Tango. Kimber wasn’t confident in doing the choreography for that dance so it was nice to have someone to call on.
To ease the stress challenges of rehearsals, I tried to come up with some interesting rehearsal games. My most successful was “The Dating Game” or “Speed Dating Game”. I had each character meet other characters and they had 5 minutes to get to know each other. It worked great. It was fun and I believe I was successful in helping them all develop better characters.
I also had them all write my traditional back story and send them to my email. Their stories were so fun!
We even had a few dress up rehearsal days. (Thanks Jen for the inspiration).
The first dress up day was an 80’s theme.
The second dress up day was an emo theme.
Some people went all out. Jeff arrived with safety pins, black hair, piercings, black fuzzy nails, make up and all. I nearly died laughing.
The rehearsal process had some challenges. The largest challenge was the difficulty in scheduling around the cast’s summer vacation schedules. For 3 weeks I didn’t have all the lead characters. The ancestors came and went too (one was gone for 2 weeks). I didn’t have a full cast, no one missing, until we were in the theater. Tough to get consistency that way.
The rehearsal space was also a challenge (one I an used to but new to many cast members).
The other big challenge is directing for a thrust stage and getting actors to play to 3 sides. I tried to direct scenes from different angles, but the rehearsal space makes it difficult to get around to the three sides to see what you missed. Some of my ideas were hits with the audiences and some where not.
Tony Zandol was the set designer and Tech Director. He did a great job capturing my vision and his set design became a character in the show. We had a great working relationship with great discussions about what was needed and what was the look I was going for. (This is one of my favorite designs I have ever scene Tony design).
Just before we moved into the theater a few of us spent a day with Tony working on the set.
I cut out these trees.
Jeff, Jon, and John helped Tony with “Nessy”. That is what I named the giant arch Tony built for the top of the set.
Before I get going too far, I need to thank Lonnie Thurston for most of the following pictures and a few to the cast members that took pictures and I “borrowed” them from Facebook. I was usually too busy to get a camera out.
Eventually, we walked Nessy down to the theater.
The Sunday after the previous show closed, Tony and a crew of guys tore down the previous set and started arranging the platforms to form our set.
Escape stairs and placing Nessy on top of the columns came next.
The following Monday the cast came and helped cover the set structure in cardboard.
After all the cardboard happens, Tony works on the finishing touches. I went in and helped as often as i could. I painted stuff mostly. Tony added railings, trees and these cool masks to the columns. The set was perfect!
Tony was nice enough to allow me to design my own lights. It was fun! I’ve always loved painting with light and the Pentacle Theatre comes with many challenges (weird angles, a temperamental light board, and a lack of circuits).
Challenges aside, I love how the lights came out. I truly feel that they contributed to the over all look of the show and enhanced the look of the set and the costumes and the make up. They definitely set the mood, drew focus, and allowed the audience to see the show in a whole new “light”. I was able to sue up light to increase the creepy factor. I was able to add more side lighting to allow audience on the sides to see more.(pictures to follow)
Addams Family is not “deep” theater. It is fun fluff. The purpose of the show is fun. Plain and simple. To expect to be introduced to the deeper meanings of life is pointless. After all, it is based on a single panel cartoon published in the New Yorker for many years. How deep can it get? That being said, I did learn some things from this experience. I did reaffirm my beliefs in other things during this experience.
“What I lack in depth I make up for in shallowness.” The world needs a little silliness. Although I believe the theater to be a great tool in communicating social messages and a tool to explain the meaning of life to the masses, I also believe it is a tool to help the masses escape the things in this world that trouble them. Sometimes people just need to go out and laugh at pointless, meaningless, silliness. Sometimes the ridiculous is just what people need.
“Family first and family last and family by and by… ” All that I am is my family. My family defines me. I had the privilege of having a daughter as the choreographer, a daughter as an ancestor/dancer, a daughter as a lead, and my husband as the creator of Thing. As my family grows up and moves on on with their lives, moments like these are precious. At its core, everybody needs the same thing, to feel loved and accepted in their family environment. Addams Family reminds me of that precious fact. Where do my priorities lay?
I feel Morticia. She and I are so on the same page. We both struggle to face our children moving on (something I still struggle with and 3 of my 5 kids have already moved on). We both struggle with control issues. We both have husbands that adore us and yet do silly things to please us that end up blowing up in their faces. We are both a mystery to those that meet us. We both have a light side and a dark side. The only thing is, she stole my smoking hot body.
Every family has its woes, but perhaps nothing will ever compare to the threat of a beloved family member leaving. My # 4 played Wednesday. Every rehearsal was like a deja-vu experience. I feel like many days are a battle trying to communicate my love for #4 and at the same time, guiding her to what will be best for her future. Although we both share a love for musical theater and I’ve experienced many of the the challenges she is about to face, I often feel discounted and disconnected. Morticia and I do have much in common. I guess faith is the only step left to take together now.
“We all have a different definition of normal.” The concept of normal is irrelevant in the search and pursuit for that fundamental human need. I struggle to find “normal”. So much of my life I don’t feel “normal”. I’m not your “normal” Mormon. I’m not a “normal” theater junky. I not your “normal” Mabee. I’m not a “normal” Boyack. I’m not a normal mom. I don’t have a “normal” sense of humor. I’m not your “normal” educator. It’s hard to figure out were I fit in. The Addams Family gave me a “normal”… at least for “one normal night” 19 time in the month of October. But that is where I am “normal.” I realized most people don’t feel “normal.” We all feel overly criticized. We all feel lonely once in awhile. We all long to be “normal.” In the end, one has to ask: who are we really to judge those who are different? For all we know, they just might be funnier and more human than us.
“‘Cause in the moment that you’re frightened, life is real.” I loved working on this show. I loved working with my talented girls. I loved working with my husband on a goofy project. I loved working with one of my dearest and best friends, Jeff. I loved getting to know new people. I loved working with this cast. Whether or not I do another show at Pentacle Theatre, this is a show I am proud of. Critics may not have enjoyed my choices or the show, but I have no regrets. Even in the silly I learned a great deal.
It’s ok to be crazier than you….
go all out!
Stretch and try new things…
sometimes learning is uncomfortable…
do a little dance…
make new friends…
Sacrifice for the things you love
Take a moment for meditation and reflection…
I have never seen a show so beautiful to look at.
Life is too short to dwell on the “what if”. Grab today; grab the people you love; grab opportunities that come your way; grab happy thoughts, and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.
“Are you unhappy my darling?”
Thanks guys for a memorable and completely satisfying experience. I will remember, Jeff, Jen, Hannah, Harry, Carol, Kevin, Brett, Jon, Susan, James, Lilli, Antonio, Nick, Ian, Jed, Chris, Max, Brian, Natalie, Shyleen, Abby, Anna, Kimberly, Emily, Faithann, Dani, Jon, Kimber, Janey, MaryAnna, Matt, Isaac, Rachel, Emma, Claire, Jacob, Shores, Jill, Faith, Doug, Alexa, Nan, John, Tony,and Brandon as family for a long time to come.