The second production by OTMYT was the award-winning comedy musical, by Andrew Lippa, based on the characters from the famous television programme of the same name. A cast of almost 60 (split into two teams) performed the show for a run of six performances in front of a total audience of over 1000, to critical acclaim.
Scroll to the bottom to view some backstage and performance photos.
On The Mark Youth Theatre are a Chester based theatre company for young performers aged 10 to 19, run by Simon Phillips in partnership with Janice Craine and Luke Disley. They work towards a full-scale musical at the end of every two terms. This term's musical is the finger clicking The Addams Family.
On The Mark Youth Theatre, for the majority, had two casts, the Ghosties and the Ghoulies. I had the pleasure of seeing the Ghoulies at this performance.
As I entered the performance space, I was instantly transformed into the dark and creepy world of the Addams Family. With gravestones, eerie lighting and a smoky atmosphere the scene was set, so what were we about to experience. What I experienced was a hugely talented group of performers who gave their everything to deliver this story.
The sound as a group from this cast was outstanding, leaving me with Goosebumps on numerous occasions. Director and Musical Director Simon Phillips knows exactly how to get the best out of each of these cast members. Sometimes it can be hit and miss when using backing tracks, but they absolutely got it right with this show.
The cast are led by Gomez (Calum Craine) and Morticia (Maisie Spauls) through a story of love, lies, acceptance and forgiveness. Craine gave a strong performance as Gomez, trying his best to stay loyal to his wife and his daughter. Spauls was perfect as Morticia, keeping the character the whole way through and with the typical Morticia stance very strong.
As we go along, we are introduced to the other members of the Addams household. Eleanor Moulson was brilliant as Grandma and Sam Jones as Pugsley gave a wonderful performance, especially in his song “What If.” Charlie Doyle was hilarious as Lurch, grunting his way through the show and surprising us with a wonderful voice towards the end of the show. Alex Haggart brought Fester to life, full of love and humour and gave an extremely strong performance.
A couple of characters stood out for me at this performance. First being Alayna Hughes as Wednesday. Her characterisation was perfection throughout the whole performance and her version of “Pulled” was an absolute joy to witness. The second was Alice Watkinson as Alice Beineke, starting out so sweet and innocent and changing her character throughout, becoming feisty and fun and wow, what a voice, especially in “Waiting” Watkinson absolutely blew me away.
Jack Marsh as Lucas and Daniel Brown as Mal gave strong performances.
A huge well done to all the Ghoulies cast members who played many characters and filled out the scenes when the stage could be otherwise empty.
Choreography provided by Laura Roberts was inventive and full on and was delivered to a high standard. Costumes by Clare Thompson and Hair and Make-up by Beatrice Sutton rounded off the look of the show perfectly.
The Addams family had a very limited set and relied heavily on projection and lighting. Lighting was spot on, very snappy but occasionally the projection was lost a little due to the strong follow spot. Sound provided by Daniel McAllister was fantastic with brilliant sound levels and every line heard no matter how small the line.
The stage crew under the management of Sam James worked together well to move the small amount of set pieces on and off quickly and most of the time unseen.
A huge well done to all involved on and off stage at On The Mark Youth Theatre's The Addams Family and I look forward to seeing what comes next.
On the Mark Youth Theatre brought back happy childhood memories of Friday night tea-times watching “The Addams Family”, broadcast in black and white, during the late sixties. It was great fun to be back in the company of Morticia, Gomez, Uncle Fester, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandma and Lurch, but where was Thing, the spooky, white hand which lived in a box, or Cousin Itt, a diminutive character composed entirely of floor-length hair accompanied by a bowler hat and sunglasses who spoke in rapid, unintelligible gibberish that only the family could understand? Never mind! This new musical comedy based on the original television series and the three highly successful films have made the Addams family part of everyone’s childhood.
This production gave marvellous opportunities for two large ensemble casts to share the run of performances. There were some of the Principal Cast members common to both teams, “The Ghoulies” and “The Ghosties”, but both teams produced excellent performances on their respective nights. I know this, because I had the pleasure of seeing both casts in action.
Three of the principals were involved in every performance and they were, Calum Craine as Gomez, Maisie Spauls as Morticia and Dan Brown as Mal. I have seen Dan and Maisie perform in other CHS productions, most notably in the recent production of “Rent”. Calum was new to me, but all three were total professionals. As Gomez, not only did Calum have the Latino look, accent, passion and tango moves, he was completely charismatic on stage and able to alternate between oozing charm, panic and pathos with a highly developed sense of comic timing and strong vocal abilities in songs like, “Happy Sad”. His character had certainly more than met his match in his wife, Morticia, brilliantly played by Maisie. On stage, Masie exudes such confidence, and with the quality of her acting and singing, I particularly enjoyed “Secrets” where she offers Alice marriage guidance counselling. Her dancing skills are so extraordinarily good that the audience is completely convinced by her portrayal. Like Calum, she too, fills the stage every time she appears, but both are able to use their individual talents inclusively, to make the other cast members shine brightly, too. It would be easy to underestimate Dan’s acting, as he is so natural. In “Rent” he held the show together, here, he gauges Mal’s transformation from uptight father and husband to finding his “inner hippie”, with brilliant comic timing. Vocally, he has matured, too, and produced a strong performance, all round. I especially loved his, “Crazier than You”.
Wednesday and Pugsley, The Addams children were played by Alayna Hughes, Mia Scudds, Dan Boulton and Sam Jones. Pugsley is the less developed character of the two, but both boys played him for all he was worth, in the song, “What If” and even when being tortured in the cellar and begging for more! Wednesday is certainly her mother’s daughter and a fully rounded character as played by both Alayna and Mia. By turns, manipulative and feisty, confused and confident, both girls brought her vividly to life and both demonstrated excellent vocal skills both individually in “Pulled” and when singing with others in duets.
Gomez’s brother, Fester, was superbly acted by both Alex Haggart and Archie Pytches. Alex really captured the humour of the character as well as the pathos and naïve innocence. He reminded of me of Oliver Hardy with his fluttering hand movements and physical awkwardness. Archie’s, “But Love” and “The Moon and Me” were beautifully sung adding to his impressive characterisation of the part.
Grandma was equally well played by Keane Harrison and Eleanor Moulson. Both girls caught her “devil may care” attitude and certainly knew how to get the laughs. Although Lurch, Charlie Doyle and Dan Sixsmith, didn’t have a taxing burden of lines to learn or lyrics to memorise, both created great humour with their glacially slow movements across the stage and delivering the shocking vocalisation at the end of the show.
Dan was very ably assisted by both Claudia Lovering and Alice Watkinson as his wife Alice, who turns from a saccharine-sweet rhymer to a woman unleashing a torrent of dark inhibitions in “Waiting”. Both performers were up to the vocal challenges and acting demands of the role and gave glorious performances, especially in “Full Disclosure” which ends the first half of the show.
Wednesday’s love interest is Lucas, son of Mal and Alice, played by Jack Marsh and Ben Rackham. Both actors captured the adolescent uncertainty and “nerdy” awkwardness of the character, including his inability to be spontaneous without thinking about it first. This was wonderfully reversed in the “William Tell” scene, where he dares Wednesday to shoot an apple off his head with her cross-bow, whilst blindfolded. Both gave excellent vocal performances that matched their stagecraft.
The Company, of assorted ancestors, made up the chorus and both teams were strong vocally and they projected well. There were several set pieces to get their fangs into, including the opening, “When You’re an Addams”, “One Normal Night” “Full Disclosure” and “Move Toward the Darkness”. Not only could they sing, but they could also move. The set choreography was amazingly good and effective, especially considering the numbers of cast on stage.
It is impossible to praise too highly the miracles achieved through the lighting, make-up, costumes and special effects. These aspects were integral to the overall success of the production and the hours that must have been spent, backstage, creating the perfect look for every individual on stage is staggering.
As Death comes to us all, a special thanks to him for making us realise that it is a routine thing: a song and dance routine thing!
As the original lyrics to the theme tune of that black and white television show goes...
They're creepy and they're kooky
Mysterious and spooky
They're all together ooky
The Addams family
Their house is a museum
When people come to see 'em
They really are a scream
The Addams family
There was certainly lots of screaming at the two shows I saw, but they were screams of delight, joy and approval for a cast who put the “rave” into grave!
Opening with the amazing ‘When You’re An Addams’, presenting very tight vocal harmony, the show continued with fantastic characterisation from all the principals and supporting cast. Led by Calum Craine showing great panache as Gomez Addams, also Maisie Spauls as Morticia his passionate and captivating wife, who together worked incredibly well. Both a triple stage threat and hope to see them perform in the years to come.
Mia Scudds as Wednesday, again a very strong performance, her past experience and vocals shone through, will certainly be a leading lady in the future. Pugsley portrayed by Dan Boulton was impressive as the annoying little brother and shows great potential. Next was Archie Pytches as Fester who was very well cast, his comic timing had the audience in his hand. Ben Rackham took the part of Lucas, showed a genuine contrast as Wednesday’s shy and dominated boyfriend, who turns out strong in the end. Daniel Brown as Mal and Claudia Lovering as Alice, made a great ‘normal’ married couple, who eventually find their long lost crazy love for each other. Keane Harrison also brought an energetic performance, as the very eccentric Grandma. Last but not least, Lurch played by Dan Sixsmith, who amazingly kept his deadpan character during the whole show, until bursting into life at the end.
The remaining cast who portrayed their vastly individual parts, all excelled and continued to stay in character throughout.
The singing and choreography were a credit to the Production Team. Also the makeup, costumes, Technical Team and staging all worked extremely well. The only regret is that I didn’t see the other cast, which I’m sure were equally as professional in their performance.