CSU, Chico 2016 Spring Musical — A Grand-scale Production of the Broadway Smash-hit, "The Addams Family" — Staged May 4-8 in Laxson Auditorium

Morticia Addams

Da-Da-Da-Dum
Snap-Snap…

They're creepy and they're kookey.
Mysterious and spooky.
They're altogether together ookey.
The Addams Family.

— From Vic Mizzy’s theme song for the 1964 “Addams Family” TV show.

CSU, Chico’s School of the Arts’ annual Spring Musical, which this year is a grand-scale production of the recent Broadway smash hit, "The Addams Family,” will be staged May 4-8 in Laxson Auditorium. Tickets are available at the University Box Office, 530-898-6333.

“The Addams Family” musical takes a wild and wacky spin on the creepy and lovable television show of the same name that became a cult-classic since it first aired in 1964. The TV show was based off of Charles Addams’ The New Yorker cartoons.

In the musical version, Wednesday Addams — the young “queen of darkness” from the TV show — is now a teenager who has fallen in love with a boy her parents have yet to meet. Morticia, the elegant vampire-like matriarch of the Addams family, is in a sudden state of confusion and disbelief as she realizes her daughter is on the verge of being an adult. Wednesday wants her boyfriend, Luke, and his parents to meet her quirky family. But at the same time she is mortified at the idea of her family shattering the normal image of her lifestyle she has painted for Luke.

“The Addams Family” is CSU, Chico’s biggest production of the year. It features beautiful sets and costumes, wonderful singing, big dance numbers and a live orchestra on stage. The songs in the musical are both familiar and new; spooky and certainly theatrical. Meanwhile, the dancing will be lively and sometimes comical.
 
The show is being directed by CSU, Chico theatre professor Matthew Teague Miller, who also directed the School of the Arts’ fall 2015 popular musical, “Reefer Madness.”

Miller has been teaching at CSU, Chico for just shy of a year. He has a broad resume in theatre that includes attending the prestigious Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, running a summer theatre program in Iowa, and performing in the Broadway national tour of “Les Miserables.”
 
“Really what the show is about, is the question of ‘what is normal?’” said Miller. “Wednesday thinks that she’s the weird one because she’s got this family that has a swordfish on the wall with a leg hanging on it. But at the same time, Luke, who she has fallen in love with, thinks he’s weird because his mother writes poems and likes to wear the color yellow, and that freaks him out!”
 
Featured cast members include Michael Bram (Gomez Addams), Meghan Collins (Morticia Addams) and Katie Thornton (Wednesday Addams). Supporting actors include Brittney Nusbaum (Pugsley Addams), Allie Griffey (Grandma Addams), Louis Fuentes (Fester Addams), Alejandro Padilla (Lurch Addams), Connor Norton (Lucas Beineke), Samantha Corbett (Alice Beineke) and Eric Dobson (Mal Beineke). Female Ancestors include Taylor Adams, Claire Ando, Danielle Gervais, Camille Senderowicz and Jennie Seohui Park. Male Ancestors include Anh Tai Bercher, Juan Bolanos, Eric Ganteno, Cameron Hoffman and Malik Wilson.
 
“Casting this show was a challenge because walking into the theatre, the audience already has a relationship with the characters that are going to be on the stage—which is not true for most musicals,” Miller said. 
 
Members of the cast and crew are excited at the prospect of bringing “The Addams Family” to life on the Laxson Auditorium stage.
 
“We have a killer cast and production team that seems to be getting more pumped about the show everyday, which in turn makes me excited to help make it happen,” said stage manager and CSU, Chico senior Kyrsten Goodrich.
 
Department of Music and Theatre faculty member Robert Pickering’s set is artistic and creative while still managing to maintain the classic feel of the original Addams Family cartoon, television show and movie.
 
“Matty mentioned wanting to pay homage to the drawings of Charles Addams as well as the television series, and to some extent, the film version,” said Pickering. “These are all great resources to use as research material for our own unique design and production needs.”
 
Lighting designer Mike Johnson, Production Director for the School of the Arts, has decided to go with a black and white palette, and Pickering plans to use the same approach for the colors of the set. Pickering’s design also includes having the orchestra on stage, rather than in the orchestra pit. This allows the actors to further explore boundaries on the stage and connect with the audience in different ways.
 
“My design will feature a prominent staircase, a central fireplace, a window seat, an upper balcony level, lots of doors and a hidden bookcase or two — all of which should add to the fluidity of movement on the set and a smoothness to the transitions between scenes,” Pickering said.
 
Costumes designed by Sandra Barton, Department of Music and Theatre staff member, were inspired by Charles Addams’s drawings. For the Ancestor roles, Barton researched their backstories and designed costumes to match those backgrounds.

“Costumes will be creepy—but not too scary,” she said.  “They’ll definitely stand out without being horrific or dark. We want ‘The Addams Family’ to be a child/family friendly production.”

As for choreography, Miller says that the audience should expect “vaudeville, Musical Comedy, Tango and traditional Musical Theatre choreography.”

“The Addams Family” musical first previewed on Broadway in 2010 at the Lunt-Fontanna Theatre in Manhattan, New York. The show was written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, who had teamed up together for the Broadway musical “Jersey Boys.” Music and lyrics were by Andrew Lippa, who has also contributed music and lyrics for several other Broadway productions, including “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” in 1999 and “Big Fish” in 2013.

With popular actors Nathan Lane playing Gomez Addams and Bebe Neuwirth playing Morticia Addams, the Broadway production of the show was able to wrack up a large fan base before the curtain was raised for the first show. “The Addams Family” was nominated for several awards, including two Tony’s for Best Original Score (Andrew Lippa) and Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (Kevin Chamberlin).

The Broadway production was estimated to cost $10 million, but more recently reports have estimated the budget at $15 million. In May 2011, an article in Playbill reported that the show had already grossed over $62 million. It ultimately would go on to be the fastest show in Broadway history to net one billion dollars.

Miller is not only excited for the cast to show off their talents, but he is also confident that the audience will enjoy “The Addams Family.”

“This will prove to be a show that people will smile through, laugh at and talk about for a while,” he said.

“The Addams Family” is family-friendly and appropriate for all ages. Performances take place May 4-7 at 7:30 p.m. and May 8 at 2 p.m. in Laxson Auditorium.

Advance tickets, at $20 premium, $16 adult, $14 senior citizens, and $10 students/children, are available at the University Box Office, located at the corner of Third and Chestnut Streets. Tickets are also available online or by phone (530-898-6333). For special needs seating, please call 530-898-6333.
 
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Photo ID: Theatre student Meghan Collins will play Morticia in CSU, Chico's 2016 Spring Musical, "The Addams Family."

Photo by Aaron Draper

Story by Kameryn Whipple, School of the Arts Publicity Assistant