Every year, Ulysses High School puts on a theatrical experience for the public. This year, I had the privilege of capturing "The Addams Family" musical as a Ulysses News reporter.
As a child of the 90s, I grew up fond of "The Addams Family" movie which featured some of Hollywood's most famous, such as Christina Richie, Raul Julia, and Anjelica Huston. Therefore, subconsciously, I had a preconceived notion of what was to come once the curtains opened at Kepley Middle School.
Quite frankly, it took the initial sounds coming from Cousin It to sell me. I know I wasn't the only one, given the echoes of uncontrollable laughter coming from the audience. Through Cousin It, there was a sense of nostalgia. I couldn't help but think, "Oh, this is going to be good!"
Act I was titled “When You’re an Addams”. In true Addams fashion, parents Gomez and Morticia, played by Jonathan Pauda and Galilea Martinez, filled the air with shameless love and lust for one another. Siblings Wednesday and Pugsley were introduced shortly thereafter, played by Stephanie Mejia and Sydlin Loewen. Of course, you can’t have “kooky” without Uncle Fester, who entered the scene with a unique, unmatched energy, thanks to Nixon Keeler. “When You’re an Addams” had the perfect introductory dance number to set a chaotic, but lovable tone.
From the top, the audience was informed of the musical’s focus: Wednesday found love with Lucas Beineke, played by Blain Coffey, a “normie” whom she planned to marry. A secret her father felt compelled to keep from Morticia. Withholding such a thing created a building tension between all characters. Still, Gomez kept the audience laughing and relating to his musical number about being “Trapped”, which made multiple appearances as perfectly timed comedic relief.
Throughout the musical, six ancestors remained in the background. You had graceful, ghostly figures and then you had the Caveman Ancestor, played by Martin Garcia. Although they were behind the lead characters for most acts, each ancestor played an important role in supporting the family. Without speaking a word, the ancestors always had input. They were a lovely, essential addition to the cast.
Moving forward, Wednesday and Pugsley’s sibling rivalry was displayed with Sydlin tied up to a torture device. With each yelp following Wednesday’s pull of the lever, the audience rolled in laughter. Mejia did an exceptional job embodying teenage angst, darkness, and rebellion throughout the comedy. However, the torture foreshadowed a more somber number about Pugsley’s fear of losing his sister to her new beau. Loewen did a tremendous job in creating a scene for the audience to relate.
As tensions continued to rise, the most intense act began. Wednesday and Lucas’s families came together for an evening of dinner and conversation. When Pugsley’s plan to potion his sister back to “normal”, Lucas’s mother Alice, played by Lily Cowan, took the act by storm, raging against her husband Mal, played by Ethan Brollier, before crashing on the dinner table, switching up from zero to 100 in a blink of an eye. Audience members were smitten with the chaos. Each character played the scenario to perfection, whether by dialogue, singing, or facial expressions. Every character’s emotions and reactions were felt.
Following the dinner disaster, each character displayed emotional turmoil. There was a lingering sadness between them. However, Uncle Fester chimed in with his undying love for the Moon. Yes, that’s right. THE MOON. With ukulele in hand, Fester serenaded his soulmate with “The Moon and Me”. As serious as Fester could be, the audience cackled at each off-key note Keeler belted out. It was obvious: Fester stole the hearts of the audience and the show itself.
Towards the end of the show, amends were made between the Addams and Beineke family. Gomez and Morticia accepted Wednesday’s decisions in life and love. All was well. Mal and Alice were crazy for each other again while Gomez and Morticia were, well, still crazy. “When You’re an Addams” was performed to end the show, signifying unity after hardship.
Overall, I was immensely impressed with the cast and crew. The level of talent and dedication from this group made for one of the best performances I’ve witnessed amongst all ages. Not only did each cast member ace their character, but displayed an outstanding ability to be a team. I have no doubt many of these students are completely capable of making a career out of theater. Between Mejia and Martinez, I was always taken away by their singing abilities. Mejia had a strong voice, reaching each row with clear emotion. Martinez’s voice was perfectly pitched, flowing through the audience like honey. For high school students, this group has paranormal talent.
Editor's Note: Typically, a review of an event, business, etc., is not done on the front page of a newspaper. Something like that is saved for a Lifestyles, Opinion, or other inside page. However, we have two reviews of this event and as it made such an impression on our staff, the decision was made to "change the rules". For more photos on this local talent event, see page 11 of today's edition.
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