Addams Family Musical was to DIE for

Addams Family Musical was to DIE for

On November 9, the curtains rose on the dark and hilarious Addams Family musical at the Betsy Lovett Art Center. 


Back in April of 2010, the Addams Family musical opened on Broadway. The twisted yet humorous play follows the story of the Addams family and their daughter’s boyfriend. The show featured classic characters from the 1964 TV show, including Wednesday, Pugsley, Mortia, Gomez, and Grandma Addams. 


Isabel Schimpff

Every year, the upper school Performing Arts department puts on two performances, one first semester and one second. Each spring before the upper school play, the Performing Arts teachers come together to pitch and debate shows. They look for how many characters the show includes, how heavy the music and vocals are, the dance numbers, and what they think students will be excited about. After composing a short list, the teachers then vote.


I think the thing that stood out to us about Addams Family was the music and the themes of the show. It was also a popular show with students,” says Laura Rippel, head of the Performing Arts department. 


Rippel was excited to begin preparations for the show, and it all started with the audition process. 


Isabel Schimpff

During auditions we first have all the students sing a short selection from a modern musical of their choice. Then we teach a selection of choreography and have them perform it in small groups. After the initial audition we have ‘call backs,’” said Rippel. 


The committee, made up of Ms. Mormon, Ms. Blair, and Ms. Rippel, then decides what roles go to which students. 


The final cast was made up of almost 50 upper school students. Freshmen through seniors made up the cast with the addition of one 6th grader, Liam Phillips, who played the mischievous little brother, Pugsley. 


Isabel Schimpff

The majority of students have done a show either in middle school or high school, but we have a few students for whom this is their first experience performing in a musical” said Rippel. 


The Addams Family is also the “newest” show the Performing Art department has put on, making the experience even more exciting for fans of the musical. It was also the first time Ms. Rippel and Ms. Mormon have collaborated with Ms. Blair on the show,as it was her first official year at Bolles. 


Another “first” for the Addams Family was the set. Normally, the sets for the musicals are built and assembled on campus. However, because the fall middle school play and the high school musical share the same space and fell so close together this year, the department made the decision to rent the set. 


Isabel Schimpff

The show was a great success but like any other show, it did not come without its challenges. The costumes and many of the props for the performance were bought through a company that the department had not used in the past. 


I found a great costuming company that rents higher end costumes and puppets for community theaters, and they had great puppets and costumes for this show. However, when our costumes were due to arrive, only 2 of the 3 boxes that they shipped arrived, and they arrived 3 days late. It is incredibly frustrating, but it is a good example of the show must go on,” said Rippel. 


Play rehearsals can sometimes be called messy and chaotic because of the amount of moving parts there are. Cast members had to memorize choreography, song lyrics, and blocking, and had to manage quick costume changes, and remember props. Play rehearsals normally continue for weeks until the dress rehearsals being, which are most crew member’s favorite part, including Ms. Rippel. 


“Things start to fall into place and the students get a sense of confidence in what they are about to attempt.” 


The cast and crew are rewarded for their dedication when they see a packed house on opening night. The Performing Arts department has such a stellar reputation that the theater is almost always full, which led to a system of reserving tickets. Rippel has decided to require tickets to be reserved to prevent someone showing up to a “sold out” show. 


Isabel Schimpff

“Historically we almost always ‘sell out’ of seats and I hate for someone’s grandmother to fly from Michigan to see them perform only to arrive and have nowhere to sit, or be unable to sit together.”


Finally, the cast was ready to open. Much like being on a sports team, there is something incredibly rewarding about succeeding with a group of people that you have trained with and depended on for weeks and knowing they will back you just as you will back them. Every student working to make the musical possible wanted to be there and it showed, which just made the experience that much better for both the audience and the performers. 

About the Contributor
Isabel Schimpff, Coffeehouse Editor
Isabel Schimpff is a junior, third-year staffer and this year's Coffeehouse editor. She enjoys traveling with CISV, going to the ceramics studio, and getting ice cream with her friends. Her goal for this year is to get ahead of her deadlines and is proud of her interview skills. A fun fact about Isabel is that her favorite animal is a platypus.