It’s all fright on the night for youngsters

Alnwick Youth Theatre present Addams Family the Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson
Alnwick Youth Theatre present Addams Family the Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson
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Talented youngsters at Alnwick Youth Theatre proved they well and truly have the fear factor last week as they staged their last big production of the year.

The group, now more than 20 years old, is one of the most successful of its kind in Northumberland.

Alnwick Youth Theatre present Addams Family the Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson

Alnwick Youth Theatre present Addams Family the Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson

Being an alumnus of the group myself, I know only too well the blood, sweat and tears that go into a production like this, and the show I saw last week was a fantastic evening of entertainment.

Many people might fear that using the Addams Family, created by US cartoonist Charles Addams in 1938 and later turned into TV and film characters, as the basis for a musical probably wouldn’t work, but the show’s script is actually seriously funny.

The dialogue is full of hilarious one-liners and some equally-superb music, making the production a sadistic subversion of anything cheerful.

Although the show is well written, it requires some advanced acting to make sure the lines are delivered with conviction and authority. Luckily, some great young thespians stepped up to the plate to give some great performances.

Alnwick Youth Theatre present Addams Family the Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson

Alnwick Youth Theatre present Addams Family the Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson

At the helm of the production you have Gomez (Oscar Elliott Selkirk) and Morticia (Eleanor Morris), who discover to their alarm that Wednesday (Lucy Draper), their 18-year-old daughter, has fallen in love with Lucas Beineke (Billy Swan), a young man from a middle-class all-American home.

What’s more, Wednesday has invited Lucas and his parents, Mal (Isaac Ellis) and Alice (Megan Brown), for dinner and insists that the family try to act normal for the night.

That directive includes Uncle Fester (Alex Clark-Thompson), grandma (Palesa Thompson), little Pugsley (Liam Moore) and Lurch (Ethan Allen), the towering, taciturn butler.

It is clear that things will not go well when, as soon as the Beinekes arrive, Mal asks: “What is this, some kinda theme park?”

Alnwick Youth Theatre present Addams Family the Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson

Alnwick Youth Theatre present Addams Family the Musical. Picture by Michael Pearson

By the end of the show, love has conquered all, and even the stubborn Morticia realised that she had tried to be too controlling over her daughter.

The show is filled with fantastic performances from an ensemble of brilliant youngsters.

Selkirk had an extremely hard task to take on the lead of Gomez but he had a certain cockiness about him which made him very apt for the role.

Morris was a real leading lady as Morticia. There was a certain tone to her voice in both dialogue and song rivalling the performance given by Anjelica Huston in the 1991 film version.

Other worthwhile performances came from Moore and Draper. It will be fantastic to see them as they mature through the youth theatre to produce other great performances.

I found it very hard to pick out one person who was the best as everyone brought their own talent to the mix, even the ancestors.

The only fault I could find with the show was that the action was very static. The characters spent a lot of time blankly looking at the audience rather than engaging with the other characters on the stage, but I can only imagine that was a specific directional point rather than nerves.

None of that detracts from what a fantastic production it was.

From the light three-piece band through to the stunning set and haunting lighting design – brilliant, as ever, by Tim Swinton and Andy Hunt – through to the performances on stage, the youngsters proved that they can get it all fright on the night to stage a kooky, spooky delight.