When your history teacher transforms into a zombie butler


Jeffrey Bassett

Lucy Arnold, Reporter

On opening night of The Addams Family Musical at the local Paradise Theatre, a pale zombie stood in the doorway, rigidly ushering in visitors. Conversing only in guttural grunts and groans, the charmingly grim ghost wore a black suit and a gaping expression that caused guests to laugh in spite of themselves. Who was this phantom? Hidden but for a twinkle of his eye beneath the façade of gothic makeup and costume was Mr. Bill, a US History teacher at our school.

As I entered the theatre with my friend, the always interesting experience of seeing teachers outside of school reached a new level. I was excited to see the show, which fulfilled all of my expectations.

Right on time for Halloween, this production blends the bizarre antics and values of the Addams Family with the traditional morals of family love and acceptance. Wednesday Addams, played by South Kitsap High sophomore Sydney Safford, is secretly engaged to Lucas Beineke, played by Peninsula graduate Marshall Banks, and the couple plans to break the news to their families over dinner. The two hour and 30 minute-long play details the painfully awkward evening that follows, with plenty of laughs and stellar vocal performances along the way.

The story starts with the Addams holding a family reunion in which they summon their dead ancestors from the grave. Uncle Fester reveals that the ancestors won’t return to the peace of their deaths until Wednesday and Lucas’s love has triumphed over the differences between their families.

Before the Beineke family arrives for dinner, Wednesday tells her father, Gomez, that she is engaged to Lucas and begs him not to tell her mother, Morticia. Gomez reluctantly agrees. Lucas arrives with his parents, Mal and Alice, who are shocked by the Addams’s odd behavior. By dinnertime, Morticia suspects that Gomez is hiding something from her, Wednesday’s younger brother, Pugsley, has plotted to slip a dark potion to Wednesday in order to make her less attractive to Lucas, and relations between the two families are hanging by a thread.

Chaos ensues when Wednesday and Lucas reveal their engagement and Alice accidentally drinks Pugsley’s potion. Morticia is furious with Gomez for not being fully honest with her, Lucas and Wednesday doubt their relationship and have their first fight, and Mr. and Mrs. Beineke attempt to overcome long-ignored problems in their marriage. Fester commands the ancestors to send a huge storm so that the Beineke family must stay the night. Luckily, all of the quarreling characters learn from their mistakes and realize their love for each other. Alice and Mal rekindle their marriage, Morticia forgives Gomez after he surprises her with a trip to Paris, and Wednesday and Lucas receive their families’ blessings. As the ancestors dance back into the cemetery, both families celebrate and look forward to the future.

In my opinion, the show was very well-cast. The actors’ passion for putting on a good show shone through their performances. Mr. Bill, who played the Addams’s creepy butler Lurch, was no exception. All of his movements were extremely slow and heavy, as if he was somewhere between dead and alive (which Gomez actually stated at the beginning of the play), and except for a surprise at the end, he communicated only with groans and moans. Although he had almost no lines, his scenes were among the most memorable because he played his character so comically and creatively.

All of the other cast members also gave excellent performances. Gomez, played by Jeffrey Bassett, and Morticia, by Wendy Jelinek, were convincingly romantic and passionate with each other. Grandma Addams was crazy from her striped socks and high tops to her wild hair. Lucas and Wednesday were desperate to have at least a little “normal” in their lives. Pugsley was as mischievous as ever and reluctant to let his sister start the adult chapter of her life. Lucas’s parents had a strained relationship thick with secrets and disappointments that improved dramatically as the Addams began to have an influence on them.

In their own strange, somewhat disturbing ways, each character had feelings and ideas that the audience could relate to.

The best thing about this show was that so much heart and creativity went into it. The often heavy subject matter was portrayed cleverly and comically. The actors and actresses were clearly enjoying themselves as they delivered the important message that “normal” is not necessarily better than weird or unique. As the Addams proudly flaunted their many quirks and oddities, the Beinekes embraced their inner selves and ultimately saved their relationships with each other as a result. Family love trumps all, even if you have to be a little crazy in the end.