EVANSTON — With a cast and crew of more than 100 students, Evanston High School’s production of “The Addams Family” was brought to the stage May 2-4, to the delight of local audiences. The musical rendition of the classic television show, directed by Erin Russell and Heather Blackwell, centered on what happens when Wednesday, eldest child of the “mysterious and spooky” Addams family, falls in love with All-American boy Lucas Beineke.
When Wednesday’s father, Gomez, discovers his daughter is actually engaged to Lucas, she swears him to secrecy — the first and only secret he has ever kept from his beloved wife, Morticia. Lucas and his parents come to dinner at the Addams’s home, where chaos breaks loose when Wednesday’s younger brother Pugsley decides to make some mischief to break up the loving couple.
As Uncle Fester and the huge number of ghostly Addams ancestors work to keep the lovers together, Lucas’ parents Mal and Alice, along with Gomez and Morticia, find themselves losing and finding one another all over again. Meanwhile, Grandma Addams (who we discover may or may not actually be an Addams) is up to some mischief of her own and Lurch, the butler, responds to all comments in monosyllabic grunts until breaking out into song midway through act two.
With a cast of 44, the extensive wardrobe and makeup designs pulled together by EHS students were quite impressive, while the multiple sets, including a graveyard and family tomb, the grand hall of the Addams’s home, Gomez’s torture chamber, Wednesday’s bedroom, New York’s Central Park, the Addams’ dining room and others were even more impressive.
The considerable talents of the 10 primary cast members were on full display for the production. The always-exceptional musical and acting skills of senior Kayli Sharp showed she was perfectly cast as Morticia, and Isaac Gonzalez as Gomez proved up to the task of tackling the multiple musical numbers — and some extremely funny lines — of his character.
Sam Russell as Uncle Fester kept the audience laughing with his antics, intentionally over-the-top singing and exceptionally over-the-top attempts to be with the object of his affection — the moon.
Lovers Wednesday and Lucas, played by Josie Dennis and David Baxter, showed why they were perfect for one another, despite the vast differences in their families, especially during the number, “Crazier than You,” when a blindfolded Wednesday shot an apple off Lucas’s head.
In a standout performance, Makenna Link as Alice Beineke literally let her hair down while playing “Full Disclosure,” the after-dinner game in the Addams household, much to the chagrin of husband Mal, played by Hyrum Cooper.
Freshmen Dillon Payne and Gage Beachler, in the roles of Pugsley and Lurch, offered up their own laughs — Payne in the form of Pugsley’s pained screams during Wednesday’s loving torture and Beachler simply by shuffling around in shoes that added several inches to his height and grunting and groaning as Lurch. In her few lines, Kate Murdock as Grandma Addams also drew laughs talking about the “90-year-old hotties” out there who may want to get involved with her at the age of 103.
Blackwell and Russell obviously had their hands full directing the set changes, acting, singing and even dancing when Gomez, Morticia and some ancestors took on the “Tango de Amor.” Judging by the audience’s laughter and applause, those who attended the production surely didn’t leave disappointed.