First things first – anyone thinking about going to MYCO‘s current musical The Addams Family at the Oxford Playhouse should buy a ticket right now.
For a start it’s really funny – we laughed all the way through, some members of the audience guffawing so loudly, thanks to calibre of the jokes, it was hard to hear the actors.
The set was also really cool, perfectly portraying the dark, gothic, sardonic nature of The Addams Family and their strange version of reality.
What was even more impressive and heartening was the fact that the hugely skilled and vast cast (57 in total) were not only brilliant, well rehearsed, enthusiastic and skilful, but all aged between 12-18.
And boy could they sing! Sacha Willans who plays Gomez Addams – the doyenne of the Addams Family – literally took our breath away. New to musical theatre, with a background in choral and operatic singing, namely at Magdalen College Choir and Waterperry Opera, his voice was stunning. When he hit those top notes we all stared in awe.
Wednesday Addams played by Lily Aspen was another star of tomorrow, holding the audience in the palm of her hand during the big musical numbers. But that’s the thing about MYCO, they don’t do things by half.
The choreography was excellent (how Hannah Bates as Alice Beineke and Susanna Fullah as Morticia Addams danced in those heels we will never know), the set impressive, the costumes all out and the acrobatics unexpected.
As the plot progressed – Wednesday falling in love with the acutely fidgety and awkward Lucas Beineke from Ohio, brilliantly played by Sam Blake – the kookie, creepy, oddball Addams family had to come to terms with this ‘betrayal’ and the terrible normality of the Beineke family.
Could you tell it was an amateur production? There were a few minor mistakes – the mics were a bit fuzzy and wrong names used, but on the whole it was a hugely energetic, enthusiastic, feel-good, comedic and impressive musical. The whole audience loved it and everyone was cheering by the end.
So go, whether it’s for the feel-good factor alone or just to glimpse the stars of tomorrow in action. It’s a no-brainer. On until tomorrow (Sat April 8) with limited availability.
Director Ed Blagrove take a bow – MYCO has pulled it off again!
Who doesn’t love the Addams Family? A unit of unapologetic misfits living on their own terms and despite their morbid preoccupations and refusal to engage in anything ‘positive’, they’re winning at life.
This production by the Musical Youth Company of Oxford (MYCO) – an award-winning teenage musical theatre group based in Oxford – presents the Addams just as you are familiar with them but facing a full-blown family drama in which everyone is forced to consider the meaning and value of love.
Wednesday has fallen for Lucas Beineke, a ‘regular’ boy who appears on the surface to be everything the Addams are not: positive, cheerful, and a little uncool. She confesses to Gomez that they are engaged but urges him to not tell Morticia until the two families have met over dinner.
Burdened by not only the weight of the secret Wednesday has asked him to keep from his wife but also the recognition that his little girl is growing up, we watch Gomez battle with himself and also Wednesday, urging her to be wary of her feelings (while at the same time, he is wary of his own, acknowledging how he is both happy and sad at the realisation his daughter has become a woman).
Indeed, these contrasts – this fact of life that our experiences and characters are made deeper and more real by the conflicting pulls of shadow and light – are conveyed by MYCO in this production with exquisite subtleness. And of course, this is why we all love the Addams Family: they represent our darkest sides and yet remain wholly lovable. Sacha Willans plays an affable Gomez and belts out his songs with feeling, immense skill, and heart. Similarly, Susanna Fullah delivers a true-to-form Morticia: sassy, sarcastic, and strong.
The meeting of the straight-laced ‘cheerful’ Beinekes with the unruly grim Addams and the consequential unravelling of both families’ identities as they take and learn from the other is perhaps a cliché (the Beinekes become a little anarchic, the Addams a little softer), but it is performed by the cast with captivating playfulness upheld by expertly delivered wit.
If you’re into the Addams because you’re a fan of the gothic vibe, you won’t be disappointed. The action plays out against a marvellously moody set while an enormous ensemble – ‘the ancestors’ – are a hotchpotch crew of zombily costumed undead amongst which are some awesome dancers whose quantity and skill gives the musical numbers power and depth (and I should say the choreography throughout the show is fresh and feisty).
I took my 9-year-old daughter Poppy to the show, and she has written her own review here:
“The young actors are amazing for their age, they’ve put effort into this spectacular show with their extraordinary voices and acting. With Lily Aspden in the role of Wednesday and Ben Turner as Pugsley they both go well together while playing brother and sister.
Now, we have not mentioned Uncle Fester, played by Jesame Davidson. I love how he is played by a female. In the show, he is in love with the moon, and you might think this is a strange thing but it shows how you can be unique and have your own feelings. Fester is someone that can inspire you to be what you want to be when you’re a grownup or what you want to do later in life.
It is a good show for the family – the kids will love it, and the grownups can have a laugh and enjoy it too. With the young comedians and amazing script, the cast get into character and make the audience cry with laughter!”
In short, it was morbidly good.