Middle Schoolers Debut “The Addams Family” Musical in Innovative Virtual Shows

Calvert Middle Schoolers got “creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky” this month as they debuted the School’s seventh successful winter musical, The Addams Family. Prerecorded and streamed online, the production included 45 student performers, stage crew members, and set creators, and more than 100 families registered to attend each show.
Based on cartoonist Charles Addams’ well-known cast of characters, The Addams Family follows Gomez, Morticia, Fester, Pugsley, and the rest of their clan as they grapple with something truly terrifying, Wednesday’s first love. Her boyfriend, Lucas, is a sweet, smart, respectable young man from an unbearably normal family – and now, he and his parents are coming to dinner.
Directed by drama teacher Alexis Tantau with assistance from Katie Leonard, Sandry Sachar, John Babcock, and vocal coaches Jarrod Lee and Claire Skelley, the show came together over two months of preparation, including on-campus and virtual rehearsals, photoshoots, and recording sessions to compile the pieces for a COVID-conscious production.
“We love to do these shows because they are a fun creative outlet that allows students to get to know each other in a different way and celebrate what great students we have,” Ms. Tantau said. “Knowing that this has been a challenging year, and a lot of people have reduced bandwidth, my mission was to make the show simple and fun, and the kids had a great time.”
Beginning in January, the cast and crew worked tirelessly to combine still images, individual dialogue recordings, and short filmed scenes that could be edited into an innovative virtual experience. They used a green screen to craft creative backdrops and worked with the facilities team to create a spooky crypt and graveyard setting.
In accordance with Calvert’s COVID safety measures, performers remained separated by grade level and recorded their scenes over video chat. Vocal rehearsal took place virtually.
The finished product, two shows featuring unique casts, debuted online with four showings that aired between Thursday, March 11, and Sunday, March 14.
“In a year like this, where almost everything is disrupted and what we’re used to doing is not possible, we could have said, ‘We can’t do it,’ but the students were willing to try anything,” Ms. Tantau said. “Because of that willingness and that spirit, we were able to do things that we couldn’t have imagined.”
Sixth Grader Jameson E. ’23 appeared as Lucas in all four performances while Bianca P. ’23 and Grace M. ’22 lent their voices to lovestruck Wednesday.
Sixth Grader CJ N. ’23 and Sebastian G. ’21 starred as Addams patriarch Gomez, and Mackenzie C. ’21 and Allie K. ’22 portrayed Morticia, who begins to worry about her place in the family. Lane A. ’23 and Joon K. ’21 brought life to the mischievous Pugsley as he struggles with the idea of losing his sister, while Cate R. ’22 and Miranda E. ’22 cackled and crooned as Grandma Addams.
Carson O. ’23 and Catherine Q. ’21 rounded out the Addams clan with their portrayals of kooky Uncle Fester.
Liam R. ’21 and Nathan G. ’21 and Claire S. ’23 and Julia N. ’21 portrayed Lucas’ parents, Mal and Alice Beineke, respectively. Eliza B. ’23, Esme I. ’23, Finley A. ’23, Graham G. ’23, Julianne D. ’23, Julius P. ’23, Lily A. ’23, Margaret B. ’23, Sarah N. ’23, and Sloane S. ’23 – cast as Addams family ancestors – appeared in all productions, as did Andrew M. ’23, who played Lurch.
Congratulations to The Addams Family cast and crew on a successful production! Thank you to Ms. Tantau, Ms. Leonard, Señora Sachar, Mr. Babcock, Jarrod Lee, Claire Skelley, parent Gillian Quinn, the Calvert facilities team, Craig Luntz, Ann Gibson, and everyone who supported this year’s musical.
Calvert School is a coed independent lower and middle school.