'Family' bonding perfect complement for Willard's musical

Cary Ashby • Apr 18, 2018 at 4:00 AM

WILLARD — “We are a family.”

That’s coincidentally the way Willard High School senior Haylee Keene describes how the nearly 30-member cast has bonded while preparing for “The Addams Family.” The musical will be performed at 7:30 p.m. April 28 and at 2:30 p.m. April 29.

Keene, the daughter of John Russell and Anita Russell, said the cast and crew are familiar with each other, which also allows the actors and actresses to “play off each other.” She plays the Monster Under the Bed, one of the nearly 20 members of the chorus known as “Ancestors.”

“The music is really upbeat for what you think. (The songs) are very catchy,” Keene said.

In “The Addams Family,” Gomez (played by junior Jadon Luna) and his daughter Wednesday (sophomore J’aime Mcleod) are conspiring to keep a secret from Morticia (senior Olivia Lowery).

“That brings the hysterics,” said Luna, who wanted to play Gomez when auditions happened. “He’s a bigger-than-life character; you can see that in the way he dresses.”

The son of Paris and Christine has been trying to capture Gomez’s chemistry through his posture, with an assist from the costumes.

“When there’s silence, he’s not still, but you can feel his actions through what he’s emoting,” Luna said.

Keene was complimentary of how well Luna is handling his role.

“Jadon Luna is doing really well. He brings the energy and accent to the character,” said Keene, who has noticed a subtle change to Luna’s natural Hispanic accent when he is saying Gomez’s lines. “His natural (voice) is low; as Gomez, it is high.”

Lowery also has learned to change the way she speaks as Mortica, Gomez’s wife. She said she has been attempting to sound sophisticated.

“I have to draw my words out,” Lowery added. “You’re supposed to be very sultry, but I feel like I’m playing it a conservative sultry. I’m trying to keep it PG.”

Her character doesn’t handle it well when her husband and daughter are attempting to keep a secret from her.

“She (Morticia) likes to get her way, so I cross my arms a lot. I add some sass to it and I’m a sassy woman,” Lowery said. “She does not deal real well.”

At one point in the show, Morticia grabs Gomez by the ear to march him out of her room. Lowery said that was a bit of improvisation she came up with under the guidance of director Cindy Light — and with Luna’s approval.

Lowery said Light is open to the actors improvising slightly or bringing their ideas to scenes.

“If you do something, she really rolls with it,” said Lowery, the daughter of Dusty and Tina.

The role of Morticia admittedly is a role reversal from last year. As a junior, Lowery played Ariel in “The Little Mermaid.” That was when she and Luna, who portrayed Sebastian the crab, became friends.

Lowery is proud of the progress that she and Luna have made in developing their onstage chemistry as Morticia and Gomez. Rehearsals started in mid-January.

“You have to loosen up because we are supposed to be in love,” Lowery said.

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