Editor | Cassandra Lau
Royal Holloway’s Musical Theatre Society brings a spooktacular performance of The Addams Family to the Student Union’s main stage.
Director Harriet Williams has steered the society towards a different direction this year, bringing “some comedy to the society”. Besides loving a good laugh, Williams explains, “I wanted something different: something fun and funny.” Admitting that “comedy’s quite hard”, she says she has been tremendously lucky to have an amazing cast. Shockingly, out of the 18 cast members, only 3 have had previous experience in an MTS main term show which seems mind blowing given the confidence and professionalism projected from the performers. Rightfully, Williams notes, “I keep bursting with tears that I’ll be dehydrated by the end of the production. I’m just so proud!”
The production was incredible from the moment I stepped into the Student Union. It was well-organised; there were enough staff members on the floor to help and guide audience members; the brochure was sleek, professional and well designed.
Talent echoed and filled the main hall even before the cast appeared as Musical Director, Daniel Looseley brought the musical’s score to life. Situated on stage, the orchestra and its conductor hushed and captured its audience.
“The conductor’s enthusiasm was a performance in itself,” comments a member of the audience.
On a more technical note, the timing, co-ordination and entries of the orchestra alongside the cast greatly contributed to the comedic effect of the performance. Looseley notes that the cast and crew “are just so incredibly talented”, so it has been “easy to get to where we are”.
There was great zeal from all the performers, and it was clear that they were enjoying it as much as the audience were. As previously mentioned from their ANATT performance:
“The energy, dance synchronisation and vocal harmonisation from the group on stage was incredible”
Considering the length of the production, their enthusiasm was never lost. The Addams ancestor ensemble worked incredibly well together: whilst each were distinctively different characters, they all performed brilliantly as a unit.
On top of that, the effort put into the ensemble’s costume and make-up is very impressive!
Emily Quillin was Morticia Addams through and through
Having a great voice, and impressive dancing skills definitely contributed to her performance, but it was her charm and charisma that made her stand out. As Mark Shenton infamously put: “Charisma will get you noticed. Charm will get you a job. Both will make you a star.” Given the dark nature of Morticia Addams’s character, it seems almost contradictory to say she shone out, but her superb mannerism that sustained throughout the performance made her a believable and captivating character.
Upon discussing Williams’s decision in casting Emily Quillin as Morticia Addams, the director explains, “Once she walked in, she crossed her arms like this and I was like I’ll let you do your thing.”
There are two things about Tom Avann…
He makes a wonderful Gomez Addams and actor. His interpretation of the loving husband and father torn between the two women in his life was comedic and heartfelt. The moments between Gomez and Wednesday, played by Becky Hinde, was particularly beautiful.
One guest said, “It was like staring into a mirror. You know, having your little girl go off to university; having to trod on thin ice when it comes to discussing things between the two, well three including my mother, women in my life.”
Not to mention, the on-stage chemistry between the two stars definitely caught the audience’s attention. As “the family relationship is key to this musical,” Director Williams says, “I’ve been keen to make that as realistic as possible by getting the cast to bond and develop real connections that can be seen on stage.”
Whilst comedy was inscribed into the script, the lifelike bond between Tom Avann, Emily Quillin, and Becky Hinde strengthened the emotional impact of the piece.
Emily Bradbury was certainly divine,
Definitely a favourite of mine.
Bradbury’s voice was beautiful and controlled, even when her character was ‘no-so-in-control’. As anticipation to meet the Beineke’s accumulated, Bradbury alongside Reuben Havelock as Mal Beineke, and Geogre Lambourne as Lucas Beineke definitely satisfied, if not exceeded, the audience’s expectations. Bradbury has this personality and magnetism that contributed to her characterisation of – the rather eccentric character – Alice.
The costume design by Jess Berry helped Bradbury’s character stand out, but ultimately, it was Bradbury’s performance that brought tears and laughter to the audience like no other.
During the interval, two ladies from the audience said that “Mrs. Beineke and Uncle Fester Addams have certainly been a favourite!”
TJ Egglishaw’s Spooky Kooky Performance
This brings us on to TJ Egglishaw’s performance as Fester Addams! Undoubtedly a rather difficult character to play, I personally thought Mr Egglishaw’s confidence and interpretation to be particularly unique and entertaining.
While I do hope to have seen more put into the character’s make-up, the actor’s spooky, kooky persona made up for it. Speaking of spooky, amongst the cast, Egglishaw’s stage presence was undoubtedly most creepy: his confrontation with audience members in the front row was both amusing for those at the back, and shocking for those involved.
Unsure of where Mr. Egglishaw drew his inspiration from, his characterisation of Fester Addams somewhat reminded me of King Lear’s Fool, especially during the first act.
Both starring in a MTS show for the first time, Becky Hinde and Ellie Taylor as Pugsley Addams took on central roles and performed with great confidence.
They displayed their wonderful vocal range and vibrato, and I hope to see them take on more roles in coming productions.
Geogre Lambourne’s performance as Lucas Beineke was “adorably charming”, but I wish a mic could have been given to the actor as many strained to understand what was being said or sung.
Nonetheless, despite some technical mishaps, Mr Lambourne added to the emotional dynamic of the musical and will be missed when he graduates this year from Royal Holloway.
Madeline Biggs and her peculiar taste in roles
Given that I have only ever been to two productions at Royal Holloway: the first being Marvel vs. DC on 18th February 2017, and the second being The Addams Family, I’d say that Madeline Biggs certainly does have a peculiar taste in roles. Thing is, Biggs excels in being peculiar and I can only say that I wish Grandma Addams had a greater part in the script.
To say that Biggs made a believable everyday grandma would almost be an insult as she definitely brought out the eccentric quality of being an Addams (even though her character’s ties to the family remain questionable).
I look forward to seeing her in A Connecticut Yankee tomorrow evening!
However, though it would have been even better if greater thought was put into props and staging, the musical certainly defied my expectations, with its body of talented performers, musicians, and crew members.