INDEPENDENCE — The angst and pain that comes from growing up — for both teenagers and their parents — is perhaps the biggest story told in “The Addams Family: the Musical.”
“These kids really relate to that, because they’re in the middle of that right now,” said co-director Wendy Boyack. “They want to be independent, but they still need their mommy.”
Central High School performing arts presents “Addams Family,” opening Thursday at 7 p.m.
The show runs through Saturday with a matinee performance option at 2 p.m.
A second weekend will be from Nov. 1 through Nov. 4.
What: Central Performing Arts presents “The Addams Family: the Musical.”
Where: Central High School auditorium, 1530 Monmouth St., Independence.
When: Thursday and Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m.; Nov. 1 through Nov. 4, 7 p.m.
Admission: general, $8; students with ID, $3.
For more information: chsperformingarts....
The musical is taken from Charles Addams’ one-panel cartoons that appeared in the New Yorker, Boyack said.
“It’s basically focusing on how the family grows up and moves on,” she said. “Wednesday Addams introduces this young man into her life and says, ‘We’re getting married,’ at the end of Act 1. Act 2 is all about resolving that, and the realization that their little girl is growing up.”
Joel Robison, who plays Gomez Addams, Wednesday’s dad, said his character is caught between trying to please his daughter or his wife.
“It’s really choosing who to be loyal to,” he said. “It’s a secret between Wednesday and I, but Morticia — I’m not supposed to keep secrets from my wife. She knows I’m keeping a secret, and that’s the conflict.”
Gomez doesn’t deal with the conflict well, said Robison, who brings the head of the Addams household to life.
Wednesday, on the other hand, portrayed by Abby Miller, yearns for a normal family.
“She’s trying to make her family look as normal as possible,” Miller said. “And you really see how weird the family is, and how, in their attempts to be normal, they just act more weird.”
Lucky for the young couple, the Addams ancestors have rallied to help.
“We do everything we can to help Wednesday make the night go smoothly so she and Lucas can get together, and their families will accept their differences, and then they’ll fall in love and I can go back to my grave,” said Broderick Buckholz, who plays the conquistador ancestor.
The Addams aren’t a typical family, Buckholz added.
“Whereas Lucas’ family is the average American household,” he said. “So when they mix, it’s not so great.”
Being one of the ancestors means Buckholz is on stage nearly the entire show, which he said is difficult.
“It’s more of a physical comedy thing, to make us funny and make the show still point toward the leads,” he said. “So people aren’t distracted by us, but when they lose track of what’s going on, they can be entertained by us. It’s hard to find that perfect point: Not too distracting, but not stone.”
While those playing the ancestor ensemble seek that perfect balance on stage, Miller said this is the most demanding musical she has done yet in her high school career.
She loves the songs Wednesday gets to sing, but it takes a lot of energy.
“It takes a toll,” Miller said. “Right now, I’m going on vocal rest during the day and only talking and singing during rehearsals so I will have the ability to do that every single day.”
All the young actors agree: seeing this show is a must, first and foremost, for the humor.
“When I was reading the script, there were a bunch of subtle jokes that only adults will get,” Miller said. “I was laughing so hard when I read them.”
“It’s got a lot of humor that you see in kids shows that only adults will get,” Buckholz agreed.
At the same time, “The Addams Family” has a deeper message, said Caleb Centanni, who plays a caveman ancestor.
“It has an interesting message about embracing parts of us that we don’t always feel comfortable with,” he said.
Caedmon Whisenhunt, who plays Wednesday’s fiancé, Lucas, said the play is about accepting differences, also.
“Our relationships are deeper when we really embrace life and who we are as people, and not trying to clutter it with rules, and trying to be safe from the future, but instead love and be risky for the sake of having real love in the now,” he said.