Director Bobby Marchessault describes The Addams Family musical comedy as funny, light- hearted and whimsical, combined with great song and dance numbers that really allow the actors to display their talents. In the show the nuclear Addams Family is joined by their deceased ancestors who come back from the dead to help the family resolve their problems. Think less Wes Craven or The Walking Dead and more Tim Burton or Shaun of the Dead.
“I have spent a lot of time laughing with actors in the show as we create together and that has been a blast,” notes the director. “One of the challenges has been taking each of the Addams characters and giving them our own spin, while staying true to the iconic characters that we’ve all come to know and love. It’s been particularly interesting bringing Wednesday to life with Gabrielle Filloux. This musical Wednesday is older, but we wanted to keep the same character that people are used to while considering that she would be a bit different at age 18.”
Above all, Marchessault wants the audience to come away having laughed their way through an entertaining show. The script is light with lots of jokes, magic and absurd situations, yet it speaks to the importance of family, love, honesty and acceptance.
New to Cabrillo Stage is Costume Designer Chiara Cola. A native of Italy, Chiara fondly remembers watching the Italian dubbed re-runs of The Addams Family every morning before heading off to school. As a young girl she enjoyed acting and designing, filling an entire sketchbook with lavish gowns. She credits her father, an artist, sculptor and art history teacher, with giving her the talent and passion for her work. Chiara attended the University of Salerno, after which theatrical studies took her to London and eventually, California. After studying all aspects of theater, she now focuses on costuming, fulfilling her desire to design and create.
To costume The Addams Family she researched costume history books for style, and re-watched the movie, TV and cartoon shows. After meeting with the production design team, she sketched, and then sent final renderings to director Bobby Marchessault for his input before finalizing the design. Fabric and costume shopping and plus rentals from other bay area theaters enabled her to fit each actor, which is the final touch in bringing the characters to life.
We would be remiss not to mention the technical wizardry in this production. Scenic Designer Skip Epperson, Technical Director Marcel Tjioe and Props Master Donald Leo Grube have created some wonderful stage trickery that will highlight this hilarious musical production.
Working towards his BFA in the Musical Theater Program at Boston Conservatory, choreographer Makai Hernandez auditioned his dancers via an iPad and Skype, with the help of Janie Scott, director/choreographer and Zendrex Llado, co-choreographer of Beauty and the Beast and stage manager Sarah Preston. Having performed in 9 Cabrillo Stage productions himself, Makai recognized that remote auditioning was an unusual process, but never the less it resulted in a top notch cast of dedicated, talented, dancing and singing Addams ancestors. While still in Boston, he started choreographing where, through the university, he had access to large dance spaces and some dancer friends happy to try the style of dance he was creating for the show.
Makai begins by listening to the music again and again and then moves where the music takes him. He choreographs to his physicality and finds it interesting to see how each dancer uniquely interprets the same movement. He feels it is important to know the strengths of the dancers so they can be seen in their best light. He enjoys working creatively as a team, asking his dancers for their input in creating special moments for each ancestor.
His choreography is original, character driven and purposeful. This is the largest show he has choreographed to date, and the experience of being part of the creative team at Cabrillo Stage has given him the confidence and desire to do more.
Actress Danielle Crook says her character, Morticia, is “as against type, externally, as I’ve ever played and I love it.” She describes Morticia as the backbone of the family. She wears the pants but doesn’t let Gomez feel it. Gomez, played by veteran actor Adam Saucedo, brings her joy every day with his effusive, candid, playful and romantic personality. He is the perfect foil to Morticia’s internal, analytical way of being. Danielle’s Morticia has a quality of another era about her, like she’s a glamorous 1930’s noir film actress, and hasn’t really noticed the changing world around her. She’s so comfortable with who she is, even if she did notice, she wouldn’t care that she was different from everyone else. In the Addams family, being different is something to be proud of!
THE ADDAMS FAMILY runs June 22 to July 9. Purchase tickets on line at cabrillostage.com or call the box office 831-479-6154. Box-office hours are 12 to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. You may purchase tickets individually or become a Season Subscriber at a discounted price. All performances are held at the Cabrillo Crocker Theater on the Cabrillo College Campus, 6500 Soquel Drive in Aptos, CA.