Come laugh with ‘The Addams Family’

SHS Theater to put on ‘light and funny’ musical this weekend

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They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re altogether ooky and they’re coming to Salem Middle School this weekend.

When the ghoulish Addams family makes their annual visit to the graveyard for family reunion with all their family members (living, dead and undecided), Uncle Fester elicits the assistance of the departed to help Wednesday, who, under protest, has invited her new boyfriend, Lucas Beineke, to dinner, along with his parents, the repressed and straight-laced Alice and Mal. When Wednesday tells her father, Gomez, to keep her engagement to Lucas a secret, he promises to do so, even from Morticia, who he shares an utterly honest relationship this secret threatens to unravel. Completely opposite lifestyles collide and, with a little help from Pugsley and Grandma’s potion, it becomes a dinner none of them will ever forget. In short, if you think your family’s interactions with others can be complicated, you’ll either be able to commiserate or feel a little better that yours has nothing on theirs.

The Salem High School theater department will bring the ghoulish tale to life Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the middle school performing arts center.

“It’s always hard to decide what to do,” said Richard Trueblood. “Bonnie [Harmon] and I went to Derby Dinner Playhouse to see it when it was there and we enjoyed it and I thought we could do it.”

After auditions, they were able to get rush tickets for about six members of the cast and brought them to Clarksville to see it as well, giving them folded papers with pictures of who they would be playing.

“We tried to get tickets for the rest of the cast, but it just didn’t work out,” said Trueblood.

The school was even able to rent some of the scenery from Derby Dinner.

“We lucked out on that,” said Trueblood. “Everything has been pretty fun and the kids have grown a lot. We have some freshmen and three or four seniors we will miss greatly when they leave. A middle school student will be playing Pugsley. We’re really proud of these kids. They’ve made it fun.”

Trueblood said the theater program at the school works with what previous plays have brought in and hopes the community will support the effort they’ve put in to this one so far.

“We want people to come for the memory and to support the theater as well … We have to compete with TV and movies, but there’s nothing like seeing a show live,” he said. “Bonnie is all over eBay, collecting wigs, costumes and props and does a great job bringing the visuals to life. It’s hard to do a production while you’re working and teaching.”

The play is one that’s currently touring worldwide with professional theater groups and has started cropping up in schools as well.

“On any given weekend, there’s a few schools doing it between here and Chicago. This is a way for people who perhaps can’t make it to the theater stages like Derby Dinner or larger to see the play,” which Trueblood describes as “light and funny. Not as dark as you might expect.”

As for the students, Trueblood said they’re starting to feel the pre-show jitters.

“There’s a wide range of fear and nerves, but that’s what some of this is about — learning to cope with nerves and fears,” he said. “It’s important to know there will be dividends for them when they least expect it in the future. Maybe they’ll draw on this experience when they’re faced with something that scares them later.”

Students will perform the play at 7 p.m. this Saturday, 2 p.m. on Sunday and 7 p.m. on Monday, May 15.

“Monday gives us a chance for people to talk about it and we’ve found it works out well,” said Trueblood.

He reiterated how important it is for the community to support the theater students.

“When I started this years ago, a play or concert was a big deal,” Trueblood said. “They came to watch. Now, there’s so many things to do and watch on TV they think they can do better that way. The kids need the support. I want them to be able to look out and see those faces looking back at them and interacting with the play. We need someone who laughs easily and encourages others who may be more timid to laugh along.”

Tickets are $6 for students and seniors and $8 for adults. They will be available at the door.

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