One hundred Hoboken public school students in kindergarten through 12th grade will perform in this year’s all-district musical, “The Addams Family,” which debuts Friday, May 17.
The show is based on the single-panel cartoons by Charles Addams, which depict a ghoulish American family with an affinity for all things macabre. The comedy follows 18-year-old Wednesday Addams who is about to marry a “normal boy,” Lucas Beineke, and the parents who are meeting for the first time at dinner at the Addams home.
“What appears to be normal isn’t always normal,” said Director Danielle Miller who is in charge of the district’s theater department. “The family that is so off-put by the Addams wind up learning about real love and themselves through this whole experience. It’s definitely a don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover type story.”
A year in the making
Miller directs with assistant direction by PJ Benson, music direction by Kristen Hoyt, and choreography by Britteny Schruefer. Kimberly Mara directs the K-2nd grade ensemble.
“This show is really funny,” Miller said “A lot of the things you do for kids is cute, but this show is like when you watch a good movie, and there is adult humor, and the kids love it too.”
Miller chose The Addams Family after attending the International Thespian Festival in Nebraska with some of her students last June. One school’s performance used digital graphics in lieu of sets. Miller began brainstorming how the all-district musical could use similar technology.
She acquired the rights to perform the show, confident that it could accommodate a cast of 100, as well as digital animation and graphics.
They started fundraising and working with California-based Broadway Media to customize the digital animation, including mansion wallpaper which will be projected onto the auditorium’s walls where spiders weave their webs. Walking suits of armor will immerse the audience into the family mansion.
“This show is unique because we haven’t seen anybody do it the way we are doing it,” Miller said. “It was really our own idea and creation.”
After 180 public school students auditioned in March, 100 were cast. Students have a hand in everything from set design and construction to publication of the playbill.
“These kids have been rehearsing and working for nine weeks,” Miller said. “It is a labor of love.”
Wallace Elementary fifth-grader Lucas Daly, who has been performing in district musicals since kindergarten, landed the role of Gomez Addams. He said he enjoys singing and acting and feels it’s a great experience to connect with people older and younger.
“I practice for the show every night, and I don’t feel like I am under too much pressure,” Daly said. “I know there probably is some. I just don’t really get stage fright or anything, and I just enjoy performing, so I focus on what is ahead.”
Mable Blishcke-Villavicencio, a seventh-grader at Hoboken Middle School, plays his daughter, Wednesday Addams. It’s her first time as a lead in a district musical.
“It has been really exciting and nerve-racking at some points, but throughout the whole thing it’s mostly been exciting because I get to go out of my comfort zone with certain things, like singing,” she said. “I get a little stage fright sometimes but I am excited to get in front of the auditorium when the spotlight just hits me and see everyone in the audience.”
Sixth-grader at Wallace Elementary School, Arcadio Torres, who plays Mal Beineke, said musicals are fun and allow him to interact with students from all six of the district’s schools. It’s also a hobby he shares with his older sister.
Other cast members include Sofia Melfi as Morticia Addams, Miguel Cabelin as Uncle Fester, Charles W. Bird as Pugsley Addams, Riddhi Damani as Grandma, Ethan Ortiz as Lucas Beineke, and Zeniah Edmondson as Alice Beineke.
On sale now
Performances are Friday, May 17, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, May 18, at 2 p.m.; and Sunday, May 19, at 2 p.m. General admission tickets are $10. Students/seniors are $5. Tickets can be purchased online at https://hhsnj.booktix.com/dept/Theatre. Tickets will be available at the door, but the shows often sell out.
All proceeds from the ticket sales go back to the theater and music departments.
For updates on this and other stories check http://www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.