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'Addams Family,' with cast of 47, lurches onstage Nov. 20-23 at Oregon City High School

It's a classic setup: A quirky young girl shocks her parents by telling them she's in love with a young man they've never met. In addition, the young man's parents are coming to dinner.

PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Left, Laurie Lundgreen, a parent volunteer who helps with makeup for OCHS plays, shows Emma Weber, right, how to put makeup on the bald cap that Alyssa Lind wears in 'TheAddams Family.'Adding to the complication is that the young girl is Wednesday Addams and the boy is a normal guy from a respectable family.

Wednesday confides in her father, but asks him not to tell her mother. Will Gomez be able to keep a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia? How will the normal family react when they see Lurch, Uncle Fester and the ghostly "ancestors" that inhabit the Addams household?

Audiences will have to see Oregon City High School's production of "The Addams Family" to see how it all works out.

The musical is at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20, 21, 22 and 23 at the high school, 19761 S. Beavercreek Road, Oregon City. Nov. 22 will be First Responder Friday, so all current or former first responders get in free. That night also will feature a talkback with cast and crew.

Drama teacher Clyde Berry is directing the musical and said he chose it for the number of opportunities it provides for students. There are 47 cast members, 15 musicians in the band, and 13 crew members in the production.

"Our program operates on the idea that we are training students in skills. We do that by picking a show that has something new to do," he said.

"After that, we get into the technical aspects," Berry said, noting that the instrumentation has to be something the band can play, and there needs to be a balance of roles for guys and girls.

This musical is heavy on makeup and hair effects, so that will prepare the team for the "black/white show we are doing in the spring," he said.

He also knew that the animated movie of "The Addams Family" opened before the school production, so there is plenty of name recognition for the musical.

Another factor in choosing "The Addams Family" was the opportunity for the production to be a full Fine/Performing Arts Department collaboration.

"This allows the band kids to learn a different style of playing, as well as the realization that they have a marketable skill," Berry said. "The music is the heart and soul of a musical, and the collaborative process between musician and actor is unlike anything else a class offers.

"The same is true for choir students learning to act, the theater kids learning to sing, and everyone learning to dance," Berry added.

He noted that the Visual/Fine Arts Department will have a student gallery of works on display and available for purchase every night.

Challenges, rewards

The biggest challenge in putting on an elaborate production like "The Addams Family" is time.

"It's not just putting on a play; we are trying to teach skills/leadership. So we have to rehearse, teach and fundraise all at the same time," Berry said.

"Theater is a serious time commitment for the students and for the parents as well, to adjust home routines and rides to make it all work. However, all of this hard work has a life-changing impact on our students," he said.

Berry's favorite part of the process is watching his students surprise themselves when they realize they can do something they never thought they could.

"The ability to set small and long-term goals, and figure out how to problem-solve to meet them is a process that will help them forever, especially during stressful times," Berry said.

When the show opens, Berry said he watches the audience to see parents watching their kids perform.

"Seeing that pride and joy at their students' success is awesome," he said.

Audiences will get a kick out of the show, Berry said, adding, "There's singing, dancing, acting and the love of the Addams' legendary weirdness. I think everyone will enjoy an evening of fun, created by their own community before the holidays commence."

Playing characters

One of the challenges of playing Uncle Fester, is putting up her long hair in a bald cap, not to mention playing a man. But junior Alyssa Lind said this is her third time in a male role, and it "is interesting to see that perspective" and a challenge to learn how to walk like a man.

But the joke in the show is that Fester is neither man nor woman, so that makes it easier on her to play that role.

Ryker Thomas, a sophomore, has a different kind of obstacle to overcome, as he plays the incredibly tall character of Lurch: He has to walk and even dance wearing a pair of carpenter stilts.

Luckily, Lurch stands quietly in the background most of the time, as befits a good butler, but at the end Lurch gets to break out and sing a solo.

Junior Dylan Neighorn plays the role of Gomez and describes his character as "boisterous."

He added that Gomez "doesn't care what everyone thinks about him; he's out there."

Audiences will appreciate the sets and the characters and the talent on display by a big cast, Neighorn said.

Dance, management

Isa Rust, a junior, is the dance captain and assistant choreographer of the show. She said she has been dancing for 12 years and learned how to choreograph by watching her teachers and coaches.

"They taught me to see how other people learn so that I can help others learn," she said.

She choreographed Uncle Fester's big number "The Moon and Me," which he sings with the female "ancestors."

"He's confessing his love to the moon, and I figured out a way to turn the ancestors into stars, so he's swimming through the stars. I'm excited to see how it looks onstage," Rust said.

She's most proud of the dance numbers where each character is clearly an individual, but they all come together to form a unified piece.

Senior Conor Doherty and junior Haley Hochhalter will never be seen onstage by the audience, but, as stage managers, the two are instrumental in making sure the entire show stays on track.

Doherty stage managed last year's production of "Elephant's Graveyard," but this is his first time working with such a large cast.

"I've learned to be a leader and to be positive; to show people that everything will work out," he said.

It can be difficult telling peers what to do, but he said he just tells them that "here it's professional and we need to get down to work."

Doherty added that what he likes best about being a stage manager is "seeing all the people and getting to know them."

'You have to build a relationship so that people can trust you, especially during tech week," Hochhalter said. This is her first time as a stage manager, but she has worked in the sound and light booth in previous productions, so she knew what was expected of her.

"I really like being backstage, and I wanted to learn a lot and grow as a person, so this was the best next step," she said.

Hochhalter had to learn special skills in order to use new music software for the production.

"I figured it out; it was a fun challenge to overcome and now I'm better in a leadership role."

Celebrate weird

What: The Oregon City High School Drama Department presents "The Addams Family"

When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20-23

Where: Oregon City High School, 19761 S. Beavercreek Road, Oregon City

Tickets: $8 general admission

Staff: The production is directed by Clyde Berry, with Dana Henson, music director; Laurie Lundgreen, costumer and makeup consultant; Julia Voorhies, voice director; Michelle Mejaski, choreographer; and Joel Anderson, set designer.

Details: The high school National Honor Society students will provide free child care Friday and Saturday night.

More: Visit ochspioneers.org/drama; to donate to the program visit snap-raise.com/fundraisers/ochs-thespian-adams-family-2019.


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