This new musical Addams Family story takes place years after the time the original series aired, but the characters felt as alive as ever
■ By Corey Evan / Reporter
They’re a family that changed how we view Halloween, television and what we think of as weird. And now they’re a family that has changed high school performing arts… at least at West Valley High School in Hemet.
This past weekend saw the Mustang Theater decked out as if it were Halloween in April, and filled with a full cast of characters to bring this newer story to life.
This time around, fans saw the family as they were, years after the timeframe in which the show was set. Wednesday Addams is all grown up and getting ready to be married to her fiancé, Lucas Beineke. But as is often the case, the families had a bit of trouble getting along with one another. Even her own family struggled to accept that she had found love.
In addition to the student actors, the students, teachers and volunteers behind the scenes were also stars and worked just as hard. Sets and props, costume design, and lighting design were all created by West Valley’s Technical Theatre I and II classes, and the Makeup and Costume Design and Construction class.
In addition to supervision by Cheri Kehler, theatre director and choreographer, a small running crew helped move things around between scenes. Next door to the theatre in the band room, musical director Chris Downard conducted the score, as well as gave visual cues to the actors on stage via a television monitor mounted behind the audience. And let’s not forget sound techs Jackie Wills and Alexia Robertson, who operated all the mics.
Kehler appreciates the efforts of every last one of her team members: “I am very proud of them, and I think they feel very proud of everything they’ve been able to accomplish as well.”
Students from all grade levels lent their acting support to their upperclassmen. The top roles were played mainly by senior students, including these budding thespians:
Josie Aszterbaum played Wednesday Addams: “My favorite part was probably… playing someone so different. I’m not usually, like, this really bratty type of scary character.” Josie says in real life, she’s much more colorful, but at the same time she had fun stepping into this role. Josie says she plans to take her acting experience to Cal State University, Fullerton, and is excited to major in theatre.
Ryan DeJager played Lucas: “My character is not very much me; My character is kind of cool and collected… He’s like the normal guy that everyone can fall in love with. So I’ve had to adapt to playing that role…,” which Ryan says has helped with his self-confidence. “He lets down his guard and lets Wednesday in.” Ryan says his theatrical experience is leading him to Cal State University, San Bernardino.
Mallory Miller played Lucas’ mom: “Surprisingly, this is the easiest role I’ve ever done! My favorite part would probably have to be the great contrast between Act I and Act II, like the drastic changes she goes through and how much she loves her family. And how much she has in common with the Addams’.” Mallory plans to live her theatrical purpose and study at Cal Baptist University in Riverside.
Kehler also mentioned how important the entertainment industry is in Southern California, and is hopeful that all her students can find work.
As far as attendance goes, the evening performances managed to pack the Mustang Theater. Friday night saw a sell-out crowd who witnessed the Addams and Beineke families iron out their differences and welcome the idea of their children uniting for eternity. And yes, they even got to see Uncle Fester find lunar love.