Performances at Miami University are not only put on by the school itself; student-run organizations have been able to host a myriad of performances as well.
One such group, Stage Left, put on a production of “The Addams Family” from Nov. 9-12 at the Harry T. Wilks Theater in Armstrong Student Center. The organization took advantage of the well-known musical and its large cast size to gather an audience.
“When we picked it, we knew it was going to be a big hit because a lot of high schools do it,” said Abby Sokol, a senior psychology and theatre major and Stage Left’s president. “Someone's always doing ‘The Addams Family,’ but we never have. It's a well known name that excites a lot of people.”
The musical’s cast was made up of Miami students who played members of the Addams family, their undead ancestors and a seemingly normal family from Ohio.
The plot follows a grown-up Wednesday Addams, newly in love, and her father Gomez, who has to keep the secret of Wednesday’s engagement from his wife Morticia. In true “Addams Family” fashion, the dinner organized between the two families doesn’t go as planned.
Highlights from the show include Gomez and Morticia’s tango, Fester proclaiming his love for the moon and a few digs at Ohioans.
Tensions begin to rise when Lucas, Wednesday’s fiance, and the rest of the Beinekes meet the Addamses. As Lucas’ parents, Mal and Alice, interact with the family, Morticia grows increasingly aware that a secret is being kept from her.
Fans might have noticed that the musical followed the set list from the U.S. tour of “The Addams Family,” which includes “Fester’s Manifesto,” “Gomez’s Two, Three, and Four Things” and “Secrets.”
The musical succeeded in both dramatic performance and comedy. The vocal performances in songs like “One Normal Night” and “Trapped” were outstanding and received much applause after long-held final notes. Much of the cast — especially characters like Lurch and Grandma, played by Sander Gerzema and Laurel Logemann — excelled in both physical comedy and line delivery.
Fester, played by Caleb Krainman, acted as comedic relief between dramatic moments and kept the audience entertained and informed during interludes between scenes. He helped Wednesday bring the two families together with the help of their undead ancestors, and then rocketed off into space in an attempt to be with the moon.
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The audience was invited to snap along to the “Addams Family” theme and laugh at ad-libs added by cast members. Any missteps that occurred didn’t seem to detract from the audience’s enjoyment. The performance received a standing ovation from much of the audience.
“I had never seen [‘The Addams Family’] before so I was curious to see, but I did really like it,” said Savannah Slater, a sophomore English literature major who saw Stage Left’s first performance.
Bennett Ladowitz, a first year political science major, played Gomez in the production. He said the entire organization made it a positive experience.
“This is my first show with Stage Left … absolutely just the most welcoming group of people that you could ever meet,” Ladowitz said. “It’s such a great environment. They put on great shows, and we just have a great time.”
Nicki Grauel, a sophomore marketing major, was similarly complementary of the organization.
“Everybody is so sweet, and they’re really nice and funny and talented,” Grauel said. “It’s a very welcoming group of people and I’ve never been so happy to be a part of something before. It definitely has taken a lot of the stress out of theater that I have learned through experience.”
Both Ladowitz and Grauel said that their favorite part of being with Stage Left was the people. Sokol also highlighted the importance of community in Stage Left.
“They're always having fun, which is really awesome. I think that really channels into the strong work that they do, it’s because they feel comfortable with each other,” Sokol said. “That's my favorite thing is that I see that the cast is having a good time together because I'm like, ‘this is the environment we want to create.’”