The Addams Family, an entertainment phenom

The Addams Family will be at the Van Wezel on Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 8pm
The Addams Family will be at the Van Wezel on Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 8pm

In the entertainment business crossover concepts are not unusual. Books become movies, TV shows become plays, cartoons become animated features, the list goes on. But, never in the history of entertainment has one concept transcended all forms. It is because of these accomplishments that The Addams Family is in a league all its own. Originally created by cartoonist and satirist Charles Adams, the Addams Family made their first appearance in the New Yorker Magazine in 1932, and by 1935 the cartoons had evolved into his immediately recognizable style. His darkly comedic visions  of death and the macabre lasted until 1989 and spawned 150 cartoons, 3 books, an animates cartoon series from 1973 to 1975. The prime-time television show ran for sixty-four episodes from 1964 until 1966 (featuring John Astin and Carolyn Jones). There were also two movies: The Addams Family Movie (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993) starring Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston. Additionally, Addams Family: The Musical Comedy starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth which garnered two Tony nominations, 7 Drama Desk nominations, 2 Drama League nominations, and 5 Outer Critics Award nominations.  Among the 16 nominations for outstanding musical, best original score, best performance by a featured actor in a musical,  best performance by an actor in a musical, best performance by an actress in a musical, best music, best lyrics, outstanding lighting, outstanding set design, it won for Best Actor (Nathan Lane) and Best Actress (Bebe Neuwirth) and Best Set Design.

The  Addams Family characters: Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Lurch, Grandma, Wednesday. Pugsley, Pubert Addams, and Thing have captured the off-beat imaginations of fans for nearly eight decades. They are now slated to inhabit the stage of the VanWezel Performing Arts Hall  where they will present their satirical inversion of the ideal American family….. an eccentric, wealthy clan who delight in the macabre and are unaware that people find them bizarre or frightening.  It’s all great fun…. fun which has enriched our lives for the greater part of the century.

Building upon the social commentary which has permeated The Addams Family brand since its beginning, they have created a new educational community outreach program called “No Snap Judgements,” which addresses the problem of bullying in the schools. For years the “Family” and its creator Charles Addams has challenged us, in a variety of media formats (from print–to the home screen–to the big screen–and now in the theater), to look beyond first impressions and personal expectations of what is “normal”.  It is this challenge that Camp Broadway and the Addams Family Musical bring to classrooms in No Snap Judgments, the first of a series of project-based, digital learning modules emanating from contemporary theater productions.

The ultimate goal of the No Snap Judgments program is to promote acceptance of others through an understanding that, while each of us is different, that which brings us together is what we have in common,and these commonalities far outweigh anything that should keep us apart. Program content encourages critical thinking, self-analysis and understanding in the context of helping students meet and exceed Common Core learning standards.

Through this program students at Sarasota’s Booker Middle School were able to discuss the themes of the Addams Family and have a special Q & A with cast member Amanda Bruton (grandma Addams).  Prior to the discussions the students talked about first impressions and making snap judgments, and used the discussion to brainstorm questions for the actress.  The students, who hope to pursue careers in Musical Theatre, were able to ask Ms. Bruton about her experience as a professional actress and with snap judgements within the industry. They connected for an online video chat with Ms. Bruton via the distance learning program Safari Live*.  Students and their families will attend the performance of Addams Family when it premiers at the Van Wezel, Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 8pm.

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*The Van Wezel  has been able to offer this and other Safari Live broadcasts thanks to  support from the Patterson Foundation through their Arts & Education Initative for EdExploreSRQ.com.  Through this program we have also collaborated with the Sarasota County Schools and the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County.