Few things are as satisfying as revisiting a pop culture classic or the successful opening of a theatrical production. Munster Theatre Company enjoyed both on Thursday night as they opened their doors for the opening night of ‘The Addams Family,’ a musical take on a favorite sitcom, making light of doom and gloom.
Delightfully offbeat and laced with dark humor, ‘Addams Family’ is a breath of fresh (or acidic, if we’re following the Addams’ tendency to prefer the unpleasant over the favorable) air to students and audience members. Ray Palasz, Munster Auditorium Director, producer and director, said that he was anxious for the audience.
“There are a lot of homages to the original TV show, and we’re really excited for audience members to respond to those,” Palasz said.
Plus, as anyone in the performing arts will attest, weeks of rehearsal build-up to the excitement that comes with showing off all that hard work.
“This is a very humorous show, and when we first started rehearsals, these guys were having a lot of fun with the script and finding those humorous moments,” Palasz said, gesturing to the cast. “After a certain point in the process, it’s almost like you become desensitized to the humorous material. Once we have an audience laughing, it’s going to feel new again, and I’m excited for the cast and the viewers to experience that.”
Palasz and his team have been happy with the laughs the preliminary viewings elicited. Every Wednesday before opening night of a Munster Theatre Company production, parents of the cast and crew members are invited to a Parent Preview Night.
“It was really fun to hear the adults laugh at some of the more adult humor,” said Ashley Nita, cast member and choreography assistant. “I really enjoy this type of humor and the dark jokes.”
Ariel Velasco, who plays Morticia, said that the dark humor was her favorite element, too.
“We haven’t done many shows like this at Munster,” Velasco said. “It’s been a fun surprise for a lot of people so far. We’re excited to officially share it and see our hard work pay off!”
Clara Terry, a senior who headed choreography, said that this has been one of her favorite shows to stage so far. A dancer since the age of three, she’s had her hand in many Munster Theatre Company productions, including the challenging ‘Hairspray.’
“I started choreographing this show over the summer and I’m so glad I did because it is dance-heavy,” Terry laughed. “I would practice in front of the mirror and do the same bits over and over. It was like writer’s block for dancing. But I was happy because I was able to take that time to really be creative with it. I’m so proud of this show!”
Terry and Nita have been in the same dance classes for years, and the two were thrilled at the opportunity to put their heads together for ‘Addams Family.’ Both can be seen performing in the ensemble of “ancestors” as Rosie the Riveter and a ballerina.
When it comes to concept, Palasz was drawn to the idea of secretiveness.
“This play is about secrets, and how we keep them from one another and the toll that takes on our relationships,” he said. “I really wanted to play that up in the technical elements of the show. I don’t think there’s a single set piece up here that’s not on wheels!”
Suffice it to say, audience members can expect a lot of surprises when they watch ‘Addams Family.’ Audience member Jerry Korwek knew of one surprise already.
“My son Josh is playing an ancestor,” he said. “He’s Abe Lincoln.”
Korwek said the role was unsurprising for freshman Josh, who is very tall and has a penchant for humor. Josh has been performing in theatrical productions since at least sixth grade, having been involved in the Wilbur Wright Theatre Company and Notre Dame’s summer Shakespeare program.
“He loves it,” Korwek said. “This is a great program, they do a lot of great things here. I’m looking forward to seeing him hit those lines tonight!”
Renee Aguilar traveled from Griffith with her husband and daughter to see the show.
“We come to support the kids whenever we can,” she said. “They do such a good job! We really enjoy this program.”
There are three more chances to see this production: October 4 and 5 at 7:00 p.m., and October 6 at 2:00 p.m.
“It’s a fun show and a wonderful chance to help younger generations connect with a piece of pop culture history,” Palasz said.
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