Isabelle Culkin talks to the cast and crew of DULOG’s upcoming production of ‘The Addams Family’.
To this day my twin spirit in life is still Wednesday Addams. In fact, I hold her entire family in very high regard. Because once you get past their penchant for the macabre, they’ve actually got a lot going for them. They love each other, family comes first and secrets aren’t allowed.
Charlie Keable, the director of DULOG’s upcoming production of The Addams Family, absolutely shares in this enthusiasm. Keable’s love of the Addams manifests itself further than just my own mere knowledge of the films. He’s able to give a very brief and interesting history, spanning more than sixty years, dating back from Charles Addams’ original comic strips right to the modern film adaptations. “Charles Addams, who created the original characters and did the original comic strips, created this satirical abnormal family against the idea of an ideal American family. The entire message of it is it’s okay to be weird.”
Except the Addams don’t even necessarily think they’re weird. Bróccán Tyzack-Carlin, playing Gomez Addams, thinks this is one of their blessings. “The best thing about the Addams family is they think they’re the normal ones.” Keable agrees: “They’ve put the soul of an ideal family in the body of a weird one; it shows it doesn’t matter what the casing is.” The Addams essentially completely challenge what it means to be normal, and whether being normal is good.
Will Emery, the choreographer, describes them as “weirdly relatable”. In this musical adaptation Keable concurs that this is especially true. “You find yourself identifying with them. When the Beinekes turn up, the Addams are the normal ones. What they present to the audience is a sense of loyalty and family; be who you want to be, you do you.”
Keable explains how this musical adaptation is the perfect way to really take full advantage of the Addams’ wackiness. “Because it’s so wacky and weird, it lets you get away with so many things that you aren’t usually allowed to get away with; one of the best things about the show is that there is no fourth wall, it’s not like they even attempt to ever set one up.” When asked whether the show is amongst the most fun he’s done, George Baker, playing Fester, replies “definitely, by miles”. And it must be. Baker has even gone the whole hog and really committed to the role by shaving all his hair off, much to the surprise of even his fellow cast members.
You never know what to expect with the production as a whole, which is both a blessing and a curse for their production team. Leying Lee, the producer, has been well and truly stretched with this production. “If you see my props list it’s the most ridiculous things, ‘ah, a crossbow, a dead goose’.” But she’s quick to reassure that this hasn’t been an unwelcome challenge. “It’s genuinely been one of the most fun shows I’ve worked on.”
The same seems to apply for much of the choreography, as the Addams take on the musical genre with full force. Will Emery explains that as soon as he heard the music he knew he wanted to be the choreographer. “They’ve just written in the most amazing dance breaks. The dancers love dance bits. There are random flamencos, kick lines, jazz hands, clicks, everything that is typically musical theatre.” Everyone is in agreement that the music involved is one of the first reasons DULOG wanted to put on the musical in the first place. Alex Bromwich, the assistant musical director, explains that the music is very varying. “There are very subtle bits that are quite sad and emotional and then big jazzy, almost 20s Vaudeville style songs; it’s massively varying and really complex.”
As Keable’s directorial debut, he says it’s certainly come with a few nerves, but his team are the first to reassure him of how great a job he’s doing. Sadie Fitch Kempner, playing Morticia Addams, explains “he’s been working ridiculously hard”. Lee also echoes this sentiment and really emphasises how much heart and soul Keable, who when not directing can be found busily making elements of the set, has put into the production.
This is precisely the kind of commitment and enthusiasm which makes DULOG’s next offering so promising. They’re clearly enjoying taking on The Addams Family, even if they do have a rather strange taste for death. After all, who cares about being normal? What the Addams have got is a whole lot better.
‘The Addams Family’ will be performed in The Assembly Rooms Theatre on Wed 18 Nov till Sat 21 Nov. Book tickets here.
Photographs: Isabelle Culkin