The Addams Family has been a part of the pop culture psyche since the sitcom debuted in 1964, and its gothic charm and dark humour has given way to film and stage adaptations. One such fresh take is the 2010 Broadway musical, The Addams Family. Melbourne is in for a treat next week as the musical comes to Chapel Off Chapel, presented by Wendy Samantha Productions.

Director Wendy Samantha has had these creepy, kooky characters in her life from a very young age. “I would have been about 6 or 7 when I stumbled on to the black and white television episodes”, reflects Samantha.  “Loved watching them with my family!”. Johnny D’Arco, who is playing the role of Gomez Addams, shares a similar affinity for source material. “I’ve always loved The Addams Family’s exploration of the dichotomy between the philosophical differences of society deems as ‘weird’ and what is ‘normal’ and how in the Addams’ household, weird is normal”, says D’Arco. “It ends up being a really interesting exploration of societal norms and how to transcend them into essentially being yourself”.

Rehearsals for the production began in 2020, but were halted due to the pandemic. “Putting on this musical has been an escape from COVID, despite the Zoom rehearsals that needed to take place, and the ups and downs we’ve had with restrictions”, reflects Samantha. “I think Zoom sessions were wonderful up until a point we really just needed to be in a room together. The most special day was probably when we were able to finally have a meet and greet at a local park.  Of course, in true Addams fashion, it was the one day that ended in one of the biggest storms across Melbourne.  We met, we picnicked, and then thunder and lightning struck – and we ran!”.

Gomez and Morticia

Getting into an actual rehearsal space is Samantha will never take for granted again. “Physically being present with each other means you can see, hear and direct things in a far greater scale”, continues Samantha. “For all the work we did on Zoom, there were restrictions.  But this has allowed a longer rehearsal process, and so there is a natural fondness that has been formed between all”. D’Arco has great affection and admiration for his fellow cast members and being back at face-to-face rehearsals has been a joy. “Everyone is friends and the rehearsal room is definitely a place of warm friendliness where you can just be yourself – much like the inside of The Addams Family’s household”, smiles D’Arco.

Covid certainly brought its challenges, but a longer rehearsal period has given the team longer to get to know each other, the show, and the Addams characters. Samantha has nothing but heartfelt thanks for her fellow production team members. “My crew have been phenomenal.  My vocal director, music director and hair and makeup designer have assisted with every corner of the production above and beyond their described roles.  This is what makes us all a ‘family’.  And we have all needed moments here or there where life overwhelms you and the undead have added to the too much!  So lots of drive through coffee and hot chocolate, late night phone calls, zooms and supportive messages”.

The extra preparation time has been a gift to D’Arco, enabling him to find his own take on Gomez. “The biggest pressure for me was creating a character familiar, but different at the same time”, he says. “It seems like an oxymoron, but I think that has to be a common issue with actors playing iconic characters”. Having found his Gomez swagger, D’Arco is particularly enjoying performing the ‘Tango de Amor’ number – “So much work has been poured into that scene, including learning Argentine Tango from scratch”. With a smile, he adds, “It’s sweet, it’s seductive, it’s sexy!”.

The cast of The Addams Family

More than anything, Samantha has enjoyed working with her cast. “We wanted a group that would gel together and not be afraid to do the crazy and the kooky within the mysterious and spooky! [..] This has truly been the sweetest, most kindhearted and lovely natured group I’ve ever worked with in putting a show on. There is lots of laughter over the way the show is written, and many moments where we can’t help but applaud those special moments”.

At a time when Melbourne is finding its feet and starting to venture out once again to the theatre as a regular event, it is the perfect moment to support community theatre. So go and see the creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky creation that is The Addams Family. As Samantha says, “With The Addams Family, it’s so important to be present at every moment – because if you’re not, you’ll miss something spectacular!”

Wendy Samantha Productions presents The Addams Family at Chapel Off Chapel.
Thursday May 27th – 7pm
Friday May 28th – 7pm

Saturday May 29th – 7pm

Tickets and CovidSafe venue information available at www.chapeloffchapel.com.au/show/the-addams-family-the-musical

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(did you sing that in your head? Bet you did!)

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