Undying values

Beavercreek Community stages The Addams Family

By Don Hurst

Photo: Generations of Addams perform at Beavercreek Community Theatre June 24, 25 and 26; photo courtesy of Beavercreek Community Theatre

This weekend the Beavercreek Community Theatre would like to introduce you to the Addams Family. They are a very nice, very typical, very normal family. Nothing to worry about here. Well, except for the gigantic zombie butler, the ghosts who dance around the mansion, the torture rack child’s toy, monsters under the bed and the antique chair that delivers metal suppositories to its victims. Other than that these people are very normal.

The patriarch of the family, Gomez Addams, dotes on his wife Morticia, his pleasantly sociopathic daughter Wednesday,and his cigar-smoking middle school-aged son Pugsly. His mother smokes medicinal herbs in the attic. His brother Fester plays the ukulele and sings to the family ghosts. Gomez lives a charmed life, one of idyllic pleasures of family picnics in the graveyard and fencing matches with his maybe dead manservant.

Everything is going great until Wednesday falls in love with Lucas Beineke, a respectable, normal boy from Ohio. Wednesday and Lucas want to get married, but they want the families to meet each other first at a dinner party before the lovers go public. Wednesday enlists her father’s help to make the party a success and keep the engagement secret until the families can get to know each other. Wednesday demands one normal night from her family, one normal night not to screw up her chances with her soon to be fiance.

Fans of The Addams Family TV show from the 1960s and the movies from the ’90s know that one normal night might be asking for the impossible. If you missed these earlier incarnations, don’t worry, the musical is its own entity. The performers aren’t impersonating the actors from the TV show and the movies. Director Doug Lloyd worked with the cast to make sure they were bringing to life their own interpretations of these iconic roles.

Lloyd began the rehearsal process with a night dedicated to character work, exploring the relationships of everyone else in the show. That groundwork paid off—especially with the Addams ancestors ghost chorus that haunts every scene trying to help Wednesday and Lucas from beyond the grave. In lesser hands, these ancestors could have just been bland, generic ghosts blending into the shadows. Under Lloyd’s direction, each one was a distinctive character. Sometimes the ghosts upstaged the main action because their reactions were so interesting and varied.

That’s not to say the lead actors were boring. Brad Bishop, playing Gomez Addams, is convincing as the doting family man trapped between his wife and his daughter. He really hits his stride in the song “Happy Sad,” where he processes the pride of watching his daughter mature with the sadness of watching her leave. In a show full of zany characters, his rendition of this song provided a touching and emotional anchor.

Camille Millar makes a strong Beavercreek Community Theatre debut as Wednesday Addams. Wednesday is just a typical young woman. She likes to hunt birds in the park with her medieval crossbow. Once she stapled her brother’s tongue so she could ride in an ambulance. Now love for Lucas Beineke is changing her. It makes her sing about puppies and bunnies, but it also makes her want her want to murder Lucas and wear his skin—which sounds about right for love.

Lynn Vanderpool was especially fun to watch as Alice Beineke, the poem-writing ray of sunshine who is way out of her depth in dealing with the Addams Family. Her desperate clutching of normal versus the macabre humor of the Addams is comic gold.

The ensemble worked well together, but unfortunately, the sound fought against them at times. The accompanying music was louder than the performers. The jokes came fast and from unexpected places, but were too often drowned under the noise.

One of the backstage stars of the show was the costume designer Anne Heitker. The sheer variety of costumes for the 21-member cast boggles the mind. The challenge was to match the Addams Family ancestors with their appropriate time period. Some of the costumes included caveman, conquistador, World War I soldier, 1920s-era flapper, jilted bride and a dowdy Puritan. Heitker uses color to demonstrate the chasm between the morbid Addams and the normal Beineke clan.

The Addams have been around for over half a century. Are the exploits of characters from a TV show canceled before most of us were even born still relevant? Lloyd believes their story matters probably even more today than it did 50 years ago. “This show is about love and acceptance. It’s about how people from different backgrounds can accept each other and mesh as a family,” he says.

The Beavercreek Community Theatre performs The Addams Family at 3868 Dayton-Xenia Road in Beavercreek. Show times are Friday, June 24 at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 25 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, June 26 at 3 p.m. General admission is $15 and $12 for seniors and students. For more information, please visit bctheatre.org.

Don Hurst is a combat vet and a former police officer. He now lives in Dayton where he writes novels and plays. Reach DCP freelance writer Don Hurst at DonHurst@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Don Hurst
Don Hurst is a combat vet and a former police officer. He now lives in Dayton where he writes novels and plays. Reach DCP freelance writer Don Hurst at DonHurst@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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