The Hippo


May 27, 2020








The cast of The Addams Family. Courtesy of the Palace Theatre.

See The Addams Family

Where: Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester
When: Friday, Oct. 23, through Saturday, Nov. 14
Admission: $25-$45
Contact: 668-5588,

Dark humor
The Palace goes creepy with The Addams Family

By Kelly Sennott

Halloween at the Palace Theatre starts Oct. 23 with its premiere of The Addams Family, and theater staff are celebrating like never before.

“Our theater is haunted, and they’re all excited about that,” Artistic Director Carl Rajotte said between rehearsals on a recent Tuesday afternoon. 
The cast had already moved through a solid run-through of Act I the day before, and later that night they planned to settle in for a movie followed by a theater tour.
“We usually do a horror movie and popcorn, and then I take them on a tour of the boiler room to all the places where spirits are known to be,” Rajotte said.
The Addams Family is new to the Palace, having hit Broadway in 2010. The original production featured Nathan Lane as Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia, but the story occurs when the kids are a little older — Wednesday is in love and engaged to a “normal” boy named Lucas Beineke, and when they go to tell their families at an Addams mansion dinner, chaos breaks loose. Pugsley worries Wednesday won’t torture him anymore, marriages are questioned and Uncle Fester instructs the Ancestors to create a terrible storm that traps everyone inside for the night.
This production features special effects galore, with a Palace twist. Crew members have spent weeks building one gigantic unit set, lots of rolling pieces and a huge Addams Family Tree made from Great Stuff foam. There will be video projection, sword fights with curtain tassels and hour-long make-up sittings.
“We’re going to play a lot with colors I never use. I never use green, ever, in any shows that I do, but green is very creepy and ghoulish. We’re going to use a lot of intelligent lighting, which will make things look like they’re moving,” Rajotte said. “I wanted to do the show because I love creepy things. I love horror movies. And really, in musical theater, there isn’t a lot of opportunity for that.”
Finding the cast wasn’t easy. Rajotte holds auditions in New York twice a year, and while he was looking for Addams Family cast members, he was also seeking performers for Christmas Carol, Nunsense and Rock of Ages. All very different shows.
“Our New York auditions went very well, but I needed more time than what was allotted in New York. I needed to find out if [actors] could handle this darker humor — I did a lot of sending people scenes and having them video tape it at home and send it back to me,” Rajotte said. 
And because everyone knows the Addams family, physical type needed to be spot-on. Morticia needed to be tall and thin. Fester needed to be short and willing to shave his head. Lurch needed to taller than everyone else.
“But [the show] is very funny. There’s lots of dancing, which people aren’t going to expect, but the Ancestors dance a lot. The banter back and forth between Wednesday and Pugsley is fantastic,” Rajotte said. “I don’t want people thinking it’s a children’s show. … It’s the authentic Addams Family humor. If you go back to the [TV] show, a lot of kids watched it, yes, but there was a lot of adult humor that went over the kids’ heads but that the parents really enjoyed and related to. [The musical] stays true to that type of humor.”
Are the Palace ghosts excited about the show too?
“I bet. Yes. Hopefully they don’t do too much while we’re performing,” Rajotte said. 

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