View our full Addams Family Photo Gallery here
Addams Family was a play full of darkness and despair – or craziness and broken humor, with a hint of romance?! We couldn’t really tell. But, what we do know is the entire cast and crew poured their souls into this family.
Like all wonderful things in life, the play began with a long line. The line wait thankfully was very slow and we were able to get into the play without a hitch. When entering the auditorium, we were greeted by James Hester and Danyelle Miranda, senior tech theatre students who passed out brochures. These contained information on the cast, the numbers, the acts, and more. Once the lights dimmed, anticipation pierced everyone in the crowd. The spotlight shined at the center of the curtain, showcasing Thing peering out as Uncle Fester’s voice boomed through the auditorium giving the audience a taste of what entailed on that foreboding night. And then! The crowd was invited to snap and clap along as the main cast graced the stage and danced along to the Addams’s opening theme. Let’s meet the cast!
Gomez was played by Isaiah Esparza who for this role donned a Spanish accent. Gomez in the show is the father of the Addams family and was a personal favorite of our staff who went to watch the shows. His character was very funny while being serious at the right times, so bravo Isaiah!
Morticia was played by Jocelyn Barrison for this play. Her aura was unmistakable and her solo’s were fan favorites. Particularly, “Secrets” and “Just Around the Corner” oozed with such fiery passion that Jocelyn easily pulled it off. Her facial expressions and stage presence left the audience mesmerized every time she walked onto the stage. Truly an unforgettable experience especially in conjunction with playing a leading role with good friends.
The lurch was played by the one and only Jorel Ma. The lurch in the Addams Family show is the butler of the cast, who traditionally does not have many speaking roles. But even with this setback, Jorel killed it in his role, providing some of the funniest lines, and greatest bits of music that were seen throughout the play.
Pugsley is a fanatic for his sister torturing him, when he learns of her new boo, he flips! Pugsley stirs the main drama by poisoning the chalice during the game of full disclosure. Pugsley’s actor did a phenomenal job at showing their annoyance and desire for Wednesday to remain normal. Their solo is catchy and cute.
The Grandma played by Savannah D. provides an added sense of silliness to the play. She is chaotic and unhinged. While she doesn’t have any solo song for herself, her one-liners make for a memorable performance nonetheless. She plays a very unique role where she slightly changes things up a little each show. For example, when she strolls in with the potion table, she sings a new tune each show. She sung “Low” by Flo Rida on Friday night and “Let it Go” by Elsa on Saturday night! Silly!
Fester in this play was very obviously the comic relief of this show, which was executed greatly. Their character was never outplayed nor did it seem like they were underutilized. This character definitely got the most laughs out of anyone else.
Best for last – Wednesday for this play was portrayed by Ava Orozco. She was the main focal point of the show and did so excellently. Ava killed her many singing parts and was very into character. I could tell she was absolutely dead inside, and it was a treat being able to watch her perform in her final year.
The Bieneke Family
A “normal” family according to Addams standards, the Bieneke’s hold it together for appearances but are actually quite dysfunctional. Madison Moreno plays Alice, who shares a few musical numbers with Morticia and does a stellar job every single time. Her voice is refined and always a joy to listen to.
Mal, the father, is played by Natalie Shaffer. Natalie gets the cold, serious father figure role down right and ensure Mal’s business is respected. In the musical numbers, Natalie excells in their singing. Their relationship with Gomez provides much comic relief as the two dads often butt heads!
Lucas, played by Ryan Campbell, is the classic boy next door. Ryan aforementioned how he felt it was natural to play Lucas, as if they were practically the same person. Since watching Charlie Brown, we could definitely tell Ryan’s voice has expanded and flourished all on its own. He set new records of perfection tonight, and we have no doubt Ryan will continue to refine his singing and acting skills in the future.
In the play, Lucas and Lurch tend to bicker and “have their moments” which was something definitely intentional. We noticed this in scenes where Lurch took his parents coats but refused to take Lucas’ coat or when Lurch lashed out immediately after Lucas approached him. So comical!
The Ancestors are said to all have their individual backstories. They are usually in pairs, which is great for dance numbers (like the Tango scene!). They are a vibrant bunch that should not go by unnoticed — every ancestor is unique and fun!
Spotlight: Rian Brandon, a Character of Many Faces
Rian Brandon stood out in the Addams for taking a whopping total of three distinct roles! As an ancestor, Rian was a cavewoman. In other scenes, however, Rian was also a grim reaper and the very Moon Fester fell in love with. Rian’s ability to be so versatile and to quickly switch costumes and characters was truly awe-inspiring! From being a ballerina who softly sweeps Fester off his feet to standing just around the corner to take Morticia away, Rian did it all — and perfectly at that!
How do You get Into Character?
I just think of things that are kind of unfunny and that I hate. Like, I have this one friend – I’m pretty sure his name is Jack Ho, something like that, so yeah
I get into character by putting my makeup on and when Mr. Thompson says “Cast meeting!”
(Cast meeting actually happens after this and they all gather to take photos — People tell Jayda Aubrey and Ray Gonzalez to get in the photo. One remarks “You two didn’t do all that makeup for nothing!” and Jocelyn replies “Literally!” Savanna says “One, two, three, Cheese!” In her Granny voice)
The thing about me playing Lucas is that it was pre-determined. I was basically just Lucas himself and I was typecasted before the show was even —
What is your Pre-show Ritual?
I listen to a lot of Pokemon, like, you know *starts singing* I wanna be the very best, like that
My pre-show ritual is to drink a medicine ball from Starbucks and to also pair that with a large coke!
First I drink a lot of hot throat coat tea! Because I gotta warm up my voice, and then I practice my song. And then we go outside and do our little show circle! And then I’ll do vocal warm-ups and then kind of yolo it!
I shotgun a monster… I’m dead serious!
Oh! Today *chuckles* I gathered all the men in cast and had us all go into the bathroom and turn off the lights and played Ghost Town. We all sang to the top of our lungs – well I sang to the top of my lungs but…
-Steven (Scrooge) iskool
Top 5 Notable Scenes
1. LURCH’S SOLO
In the last number of the whole play, there was one unsung hero that stood out, and that was the Lurch. Throughout the whole play, the Lurch only got one serious talking part and that is just a gag part where he starts mumbling. Suddenly towards the end though, the Lurch, for a good chunk of the end started singing magnificently and unexpectedly. It was a very welcome surprise from the fan-favorite character that had me in shambles. For his singing part, the lurch had a very deep and mellowed-out voice which was very in character of him, and very impressive. IN OUR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND, WAS TOLD:
JACK: So what’s your favorite musical number?
JOREL: Favorite musical number – it has to be “Move Towards the Darkness” it’s kind of towards the end.
JACK: Is it because… are you in that?
JOREL: Uhhhh…. I’m not sure, I don’t remember. Like everything left my head at this point.
JACK: I gotcha, I gotcha! Could you tell us a detail about the show that may have gone by unnoticed?
JOREL: One thing that I hope people notice is… you know… there’s this one guy and he’s in a few scenes and he’s kind of taller than the rest of the cast. If you end up watching the show, you should pay attention to that guy.
JACK: Ahhhh ok ok! I think I know who you’re talking about; the Lurch right? That might be his name…
JOREL: I, uh, I don’t remember. Like I said, everything has left my head, so…
JACK: [returning to ask about how Lurch gets into character by thinking of Jack Ho] So it’s Jack Ho specifically – like you’re 100% sure you think about him
JOREL: Every rehearsal, every single show I kind of thought about him
JACK: Because he’s unfunny?
JOREL: No just because I don’t like him.
JACK: Ok, all right, are you sure about this?
JOREL: Yeah, yeah, very sure. All right. Continue.
JACK: What will you miss the most about the show?
JOREL: Probably the rehearsals, you know hanging out with people!
2. Fester x Mal
A surprise and unexpected kiss between Lucas’ father and the unorthodox Fester! Many cast members were surprised that the two went through with this kiss. It was actually supposed to only be on the cheek, but Brianna Baker (acting as Fester) suddenly switched things up at rehearsal. Mr. Thompson said if the two could act this out continuously without breaking character, they should do the scene. And the rest is history, really! This was such a powerful scene in its sheer unexpectedness — indeed, maybe the one “crazier than you” was Fester all along. Let’s discuss…
3. TANGO DE AMOR
The Tango De Amor happens when Gomez makes attempt to make up for what he did to Morticia (hide the fact that Wednesday is getting married!). The movements between the two are fluid.
At one point, Morticia acts like a bull and Gomez has his coat out — they do a matador scene that really portrays the passionate aura of this entire musical number. Flying across the stage, the two dance fast and without a single error. As Gomez reaches out for a black rose, they make sure to throw away the flower and leave nothing but stem; this is the Addams’ way! This dance was a must-see. Blinking for even a moment would leave you missing out on some stellar dance moves, so we kept our eyes peeled!
4. Alice in Waiting
The highlight of the night for many was when Alice took the chalice and put on a scene at the dinner table. This marked a transition and closed off act I. Waiting was a song about how her husband Mal started ignoring her and Lucas after he got a job and started working later and later every day, making her “wait” longer each day. It’s a powerfully emotional song, with tons of high notes Alice (Madison Moreno) hits with ease. Her performance is compelling, from when she seeks Lurch for a moment’s comfort to when she lets down her hair on top of the dinner table. The most notable scene is her grabbing the knife right in front of her husband Mal — from start to end, this is a song that keeps the audience on their toes waiting to see what she will do next in this sporadic state!
5. Phoning Paris
While Gomez has many stellar musical numbers (and nails the coffin in each one) “Not Today” stands out most. It is a song of yearning for Morticia back. Most importantly, the Highland twist makes it unique. Midway through the number Lurch emerges with Thing, played by Landon Harris. Thing has to know when to hand over certain props to Gomez (like a phonebook for hotels in Paris).
Morticia later told us, “Thing was actually on FaceTime with his interpreter when he was underneath the table so he knew his cues. Yeah, it’s really cool! He was always on FaceTime with his interpreter when he was in the box and everything and it was really, really awesome that we were able to incorporate that into our show. Like we were able to include everyone and that was really nice.”
Thing in this performance certainly worked hard, mastering the art of multitasking while putting on the perfect play. Needless to say, the newer accommodations for the deaf and hard of hearing this year are efforts that have not gone unnoticed. Highland is setting a precedent of inclusivity. During the two nights our reporters went, the specially reserved deaf and hard of hearing section was packed to the brim with people anticipating the Addams experience.
Auditions for the play were held from November 30th to December 1st, 2022. Rehearsal began promptly afterward, with complete show rehearsals taking place a week every day up until the play. Needless to say, it’s been a long journey for the selected cast and crew. Many road bumps were met, but surely they only made the actual performances more rewarding.
On Saturday was a special send-off party, particularly for the seniors. The WAH was decorated all around with posters for seniors. At the end of the night, Mr. Thompson asked the audience to stick around 10 extra minutes to commemorate the seniors. Although there were technical difficulties with the microphone, he exclaimed that theatre kids knew how to use their voices, and the show went on.
Future drama club President Katie Johnson announced the seniors of the night, starting with those who participated in drama for 1 year and ending with the 4-year students, who all had a personalized biography read by Katie.
Of these seniors, Steven Carillo, looked back on his four years doing theatre:
Freshman year, I didn’t want to take art for reasons I can’t say so I transferred into the drama class and I just stuck in it ever since. Before junior year, I saw East’s production of Little Shop of Horrors and I loved it so much that I wanted to be in a musical!
Senior Ava Orozco, Wednesday, looks back as well:
I joined Highland advanced drama freshman year and I’ve been in it ever since and now I’m the drama president! I would shout out my best friend Jocelyn because we’ve been doing these shows together all four years of High School so it’s really nice to play close roles for our last High School show. I will definitely miss the people – like a lot! Because I definitely made new friends and a lot of my really close friends are in it. It’ll be one of my last times on stage with them so RIP.
As awards were being handed out and biographies were being read, everyone unanimously felt “happy-sad” — happy to be there, sad knowing they’d have to leave. These moments have always been bittersweet, both for the upper and underclassmen alike. Tears were indeed shed. Shed and then brushed back away as Katie read silly biographies like Jocelyn B.’s who noted her favorite memories took place when chilling in Thompson’s classroom for lunch every day or when Steven gave his obligatory Instagram plug (need we even repeat it here?)
Seniors — those who did tech, makeup, or performed — we thank you so much! As Thompson said, these seniors have built the reputation of Highland Drama, and for that, will always have a special place to call their own here on campus.
In the end, it seems that what pushed everyone to make this the best production possible was each other. Indeed, maybe the real play all along was the friendships made along the way. Ryan Campbell, who plays Lucas – Wednesday’s love interest, implies this when he notes, “Jocelyn Barrison – one of my biggest motivators – she kept me in the show, she kept me going, she kept praising me even though I suck sometimes! And I have to thank Thompson as well for constantly pushing me to do my best!”
Bravo! Until the next musical, we are expecting great things from you, Highland Drama!
View our full Addams Family Photo Gallery here
Special thanks to Highland Drama and Mr. Thompson for making this article possible!