The Addams Family: Alive and Kicking

Article by Leah Landron (cavewoman ancestor)

 

This year Newfield High School put on The Addams Family as our spring musical and despite the circumstances, it was a rousing success. A lot of things were different this year as we worked to put this show together, from fundraising to rehearsals to our final recording, a huge collaboration was necessary and wonderfully carried out by our theater department. Though the situation was made more difficult by needing to adhere to CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, everyone stepped up to the plate to ensure that our theater program stayed alive, and we put on a great show in the process!

Fundraising was a little different this year for the musical, and while we still sold program ads to make a lot of what we needed for costumes, props, and other expenses; we also had a cookie dough fundraiser. For the fundraiser, our cast, pit, and crew members sold Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough and other items to raise money. We also had online orders through shopfund.com. All together this raised a lot of money that not only helped us this year, but also helped to cover some of what the theater department lost last year when COVID hit and tickets for The Wizard of Oz had to be refunded. 

Theater has always been a community full of people, who by working together with the common goal of putting on the best show possible, form lasting bonds. This year masks and social distancing made rehearsals more difficult to say the least. Communication was definitely a persistent issue for all aspects of the production. Lillian Koller, a crew member on lights and sounds stated, “We had to yell across the stage/auditorium a lot and the masks kinda impeded that.” This was especially true when it came to putting all the parts of the musical together to film. Making sure timing was right for the pre-recorded tracks being played by the sound team so the pit could play and cue the actors, was definitely a struggle at times.

The COVID-19 rules also impacted the show itself in small ways. Eli Horowitz, who played a soldier ancestor and Pugsley Addams’s understudy, stated, “Some things were different when it comes to physical contact in scenes and of course the masks but it was very manageable.” Limiting physical contact in a show that normally would include multiple kisses, hugs, and a full-blown tango number was an interesting challenge. However, as one of the touchless-tango dancers, I can say that it was still a lot of fun to perform. In general, even though we had to deal with ever-changing policies, we were able to get our tasks done and enjoy it too. Cameron Unger, pit trombonist explained, “My experience in pit was not very difficult because while there were different conditions we still were able to space out but still play with each other.”

When it came to the final production itself, recording it instead of performing it live was a very different experience, especially since we filmed it out of order because of the time it would take to change set pieces. However, this allowed us to include a larger set that would not have been feasible to use performing live, improving the overall effect of our production as a whole. 

After our production wrapped, we also didn’t have the same sense of completion as we would in a normal year, expecting to need to come for reshoots that weekend. Instead, the cast, pit, and crew were surprised with a parent car-parade that Saturday! The theater department teachers and Maggie Lasher’s (who played Wednesday Addams) mother, Susan Lasher, organized the parade as a final celebration for the production. And I can confirm it was a wonderful surprise! Despite that day’s rain, the addition of a speaker playing the songs from the musical still managed to prompt an impromptu flash-mob-esque performance by the cast, which can be found on the MCCSD Facebook page. (I would say that my semi-ruined jazz shoes were worth the fun!)

Overall, despite the various problems we had to overcome, the result was worth every moment. The entire production team did an amazing job collaborating to create a performance for the community. It was very much because of our incredible Newfield theater and music department teachers that we were able to put on a show at all. When it comes to things like these, it really does take a village, and in the end, a lot of gratitude is due all around.

In conclusion, a statement from the director that made it all happen, Ms. Meichner: “Working with the students involved in the virtual production of the Addams Family has been quite a life-changing experience. From the time the show was cast to the time we were in production and filming, the COVID guidelines and regulations had changed several times, and the students in the show handled all of these changes with unparalleled grace, excellence, and enthusiasm. As a director, my only goal was to give the students involved the best production possible, a production that they deserved, a production that they would be proud to be a part of. I am certain that we accomplished that, and the growing excitement as we eagerly await our premiere is inspiring!"

 

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