(Erin Hensley-Schultz dances with the Addams Ancestors during a recent rehearsal)
They’re spooky, a bit kooky and they’re coming to the stage soon in Northeast Tennessee.
Theatre-at-Tusculum is presenting “The Addams Family,” the first time the Broadway-award winning musical has been staged in East Tennessee. The musical, based on the beloved Charles Addams’ cartoons, will be presented at 7 p.m. on Nov. 14-15, 20-22 and 2 p.m. on Nov. 16 and 23 in the auditorium of the Annie Hogan Byrd Fine Arts Building on the Tusculum College campus.
Well known and respected actors from the Northeast Tennessee fill the cast for the musical that finds the weird and wonderful Addams family with an affinity for all things macabre with a developing crisis. Wednesday Addams has fallen in love with nerdy Lucas Beineke, who is from a “normal” family. Meanwhile, well meaning Uncle Fester has been working behind the scenes with the Addams family ancestors, who set about helping the family with its new challenging situation, and the fun ensues for the audience.
Under the direction of Marilyn duBrisk, the talented cast includes Erin Hensley-Schultz, a well-known Johnson City thespian, who is bringing Morticia to life, opposite Chris Greene who is portraying the suave Gomez. Wednesday Addams is brought to life by Hannah Faith Rader, who has performed in Jonesborough and Johnson City productions, and her love interest, Lucas Beineke, is talented Parker Bunch, who many will remember from his role as Bob Cratchit in Theatre-at-Tusculum’s 2013 production of “A Christmas Carol.”
Undertaking Fester and also acting as assistant director is Brian Ricker, who has become a local favorite through his many roles in the Theatre-at-Tusculum program. A relative newcomer to the local stage, but who is also quickly becoming a favorite, is Audrey Shoemaker, who is being transformed for the show into 102-year-old Granny Adams. Young newcomer Tate Brumit plays obnoxious and cheeky little brother while Mike Willis, who delighted audiences as the Ghost of Christmas Future in “A Christmas Carol,” will bring the memorable Lurch to life. Lucas’ parents, Mal and Alice Beineke will be portrayed by Josh Davis, who has starred in roles in Morristown productions, and Jodi Carter, another veteran of Theatre-at-Tusculum productions.
Hensley-Schultz is returning to the Theatre-at-Tusculum stage as Morticia, a role she has wanted to play since a child. She recalls seeing the Addams Family movies and finding the Morticia to be the “coolest character” because of her dark beauty and graceful movements. Hensley-Schultz was in duBrisk’s productions while in high school and then moved away from the region and recently moved back to the region. Among her memorable roles are Patsy Cline in “Always Patsy Cline,” Winifred in “Once Upon a Mattress” and Columbia in “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
Bringing the “very loaded” character of Wednesday to life has been a welcome challenge to Rader. Falling in love has pulled Wednesday in a new direction from the dark world that is her norm. “The Addams Family” is a show that has something for everyone, Rader says. “It has a great message in terms of love,” she said. “Although the Addams family members are weird, they are all about family, they look out for each other.” Rader’s recent work includes Jonesborough Repertory Theatre’s “Hairspray,” and Blue Moon Dinner Theatre’s production of “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” She also appeared in several productions while in college at Carson-Newman University.
The production staff includes Angie Clendenon, music director; Chris Beste, accompanist; David Price, percussion, and Kim Berry as the show’s choreographer. Frank Mengel is technical director and set designer; Barbara Holt, costume director; Suzanne Greene and Jim Holt, stage management; Zach Holdich, lighting design; Margo Olmsted and Sandy Neinaber, props management; Trenda Berney, make-up director; and Jennifer Hollowell, house manager in charge of the box office.
Parents are cautioned that while “The Addams Family” is family friendly, it is rated as a “PG” show due to a few instances of rough language.
With music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and story by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, the original show opened in April 2010 with Nathan Lane as Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia. The show won a Broadway.com Audience Award for Favorite New Broadway Musical and played 722 performances before closing on December 31, 2011. It then went on tour both in the U.S. and Internationally.
Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors 60 and over, and $5 for children 12 and under. To reserve tickets, please call 423-798-1620 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.