Paradise Theatre actors, front row, from left, Jeffrey Bassett (Gomez), Sydney Safford (Wednesday), Wendy Jelinek (Morticia), Andrew Knickerbocker (Pugsley) and back row, Troy Turnley (Fester), Jonathan Bill (Lurch) and Darla Smedley (Grandmama) will perform in the Addams Family musical starting Sept. 19. Photo illustration courtesy of Jeffrey Bassett

Gig Harbor’s Paradise Theatre is getting a jump on Halloween in fine musical style and a couple of Key Peninsula residents are part of the fun.

The theater group is staging the Northwest premier of The Addams Family, a musical based on the characters from the wildly popular 1960’s TV show. Performances run every weekend through Oct. 11.

“This is our 15th anniversary,” Jeff Richards, the show’s director, said, “so we’re celebrating in a big, fun way.”

Richards and his wife, Vicki, the theatre’s executive artistic director who also designed the costumes for the show, loved the Addams Family script when they read it a year or so ago.

“We really liked the way it’s written. It’s very smartly written –– a very intelligent script,” Jeff Richards said.

“We like the story, the characters are great, it’s an award-winning script, had a successful run on Broadway and it won five Tony awards. And it just became available.

“And this time of year we always like to do something that’s sort of in the Halloween spirit and we thought the Addams Family would be perfect,” he said.

The show is “very much a comedy all the way through,” he added. “The music is a lot of fun –– there’s tango music which was kind of integral to the TV show. And a lot of different, original music that’s really good.”

The story line revolves around Wednesday Addams, who is now a teenager.

“She’s in love with this boy who comes from a very normal, very Midwest family, a little bit uptight,” Richards explained. “And she’s of course very nervous about her whacky, eccentric family meeting these people and are they going to get along and is everything going to go well?”

Of course everything goes completely awry on the night when the boy and his parents come to dinner at the Addams family’s home.

Lake Minterwood resident Robyn McGilvrey plays Alice Beineke, the love interest’s mother. “She’s kind of nervous and nervy and recites poetry,” McGilvrey said.

“She’s married to Mal Beineke who’s very hard-nosed and aggressive and rude and Alice is just the opposite. She’s friendly and nice.”

But when she accidentally drinks a potion that Pugsley, the young Addams Family son, had mixed up to make his sister fall out of love with the boyfriend, Alice is transformed from “a mousy little housewife into a vixen who really speaks her mind,” McGilvrey said with a laugh.

McGilvrey has been a go-to actress for Richards’ productions since she moved to the area several years ago.

Want to go?
Paradise Theatre’s production of The Addams Family will run weekends through Oct. 11.
The Haunted House opens Oct. 17 and will run through Halloween.
“Robyn does a great job with her character,” Richards said. “She’s very familiar with the theater. She’s had great training, and comes from a theater background. Her dad is technical director at a college back east.”

Long-time local favorite Jonathan Bill plays Lurch, the butler who happens to be a zombie.

“Of course he has limited dialog so he didn’t have a lot to memorize,” Richards said. “He has about two dozen different kinds of grunts and groans. Except toward the very end when there’s a big surprise from Lurch, which I won’t tell you –– you’ll have to come and see it.”

Everything about the Lurch character “is about timing, and rolling of the eyes and looks here and there and pauses. It’s timing, timing, timing,” Richards said.

Bill is loving the part. “This is a funny, funny show,” he said. “And for me it’s really a lot of fun because there are very few lines so I get to be funny without using words. I’m the only one in the cast who doesn’t have to dance, because I’m a zombie,” he said.

Paradise Theatre is Gig Harbor’s only community theater, Bill said. “It’s a great resource for people who want to see good live theater without having to go into the city and without paying an arm and a leg. It’s fun to do, but it’s really fun to watch. It’s way more fun than a movie and costs about the same.”

As soon as curtain falls on the final performance of The Addams Family on Oct. 11, the crew will immediately start setting up Paradise Theatre’s annual Haunted House, which will be open weekend evenings from Oct. 17 through Halloween night.

For information visit paradisetheatre.org.

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