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Thespians Get Spooky, Kooky For Outdoor Shows in St. C. with ‘The Addams Family Musical’

Cast members of St. Clairsville Musical Theatre’s production of “The Addams Family Musical” include, from left, Jayci Gorza as Wednesday, Eliana Watt as Grandma, Gavin Shields as Gomez, Reese Skaggs as Lurch, Abby Berk as Morticia, Noah Palmer as Uncle Fester and Talan Rice as Pugsley. (Photo Provided)

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Musical theater returns to St. Clairsville this weekend with the high school’s first ever outdoor production of its popular annual spring musical on the St. C. Amphitheater stage.

The public is invited to come out and enjoy theater under the stars in a safe and socially distanced environment on the sprawling amphitheater lawn, located next to Red Devil Stadium. This year, students will bring to life the mysterious, spooky and altogether “ooky” new Broadway hit “The Addams Family Musical” this Saturday, Sunday and Monday, May 8, 9 and 10, and next week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 13, 14 and 15.

Gates open at 7 p.m., and all shows start at 8 p.m.

Tickets are available in advance online and will not be sold at the gate. Visit stcschools.com and click on “activities” on the menu bar to select “theatre” to purchase tickets the same way admission to “athletic” category events are bought online.

After completely missing the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, vocal music Director Wayne Berk, along with Assistant Director Kristen Rateno and the students, have been more than eager to get a show back in front of live audiences.

Rehearsing a scene from St. Clairsville Musical Theatre’s production of “The Addams Family Musical” are, from left, Abby Berk as Morticia, Gavin Shields as Gomez and Jayci Gorza as Wednesday. (Photo by Eric Ayres)

In the wake of the lingering pandemic, a much smaller number of students crept forward to participate in this year’s musical. With a total cast of 26 students, Berk thought “The Addam’s Family Musical” — based on the creepy comic and classic 1964 TV show — would be a great choice.

“We had two senior girls who were four-year thespians, and this has two great girl leads in it,” Berk said. “It’s a smaller cast, and we were able to take on a smaller ensemble. All-in-all, the characters fit perfectly for our group.”

Much like the popular TV show, “The Addams Family Musical” — which opened on Broadway in 2010 — has a dark, Gothic image on the outside, but a lot of laughs and a lot of heart underneath.

“It’s just a quirky, goofy satire on the dark side,” Berk said. “The story is fun. It’s about family, trust and honesty. Altogether, it’s just a great story line with tons of humor. It’s a fun show.”

Those coming to the show are asked to bring their tickets and a camp chair or blanket for seating. There will be souvenir programs and T-shirts, flowers for the performers and snacks for the viewers for sale on site for cash only.

Rehearsing a scene from St. Clairsville Musical Theatre’s production of “The Addams Family Musical” are, from left, Jayci Gorza as Wednesday, Gavin Shields as Gomez and Abby Berk as Morticia. (Photo by Eric Ayres)

In the event of inclement weather, rain dates for will be available on May 11 and 12 for this weekend and May 16 and 17 next weekend, as announced if they are necessary.

“For St. C., it’s the first time ever for an outdoor production,” Berk said. “If the weather cooperates, it should be awesome.”

Aside from navigating COVID protocols and issues, the biggest challenge for this production had been some of the technical obstacles. The crew will be utilizing scaled-down sets, but bigger sound and light systems.

Sponsors helping to make the show possible included Unified Bank and Toothman Funeral Home, as well as St. C. Superintendent Walt Skaggs and the Board of Education.

“With that help, we’ve got professional sound coming, and we were able to buy a bunch of lighting for it,” Berk said.

A live, 10-piece combo featuring a mix of student and professional band members will provide live accompanying music on stage during each show. Lighting, sound and stage crew members are also a vital part of the production, in addition to the acting, singing and dancing cast members.

“We have a great group of upperclassmen in the lead roles, and the cast is all of the ancestors — the dead peoplefrom the Addams Family graveyard who come to life to be part of the show and do the big dance numbers,” Berk said. “They’ve put a ton of hours into it, and they’ve been working their tails off.”

Rehearsals have been taking place since mid-February, and the students did not miss a week of practice this year, because unfortunately, the annual spring performing arts trip — this year slated for Nashville, Tenn. — had to be nixed because of COVID.

But the show must go on, and the students are looking forward to bringing their best to the stage every night.

“I hadn’t heard about ‘The Addams Family’ until it was announced,” senior Gavin Shields (Gomez Addams) said of this year’s musical, which prompted him to do some research and to check out the Broadway production’s songs. “It’s really good music, and it’s really funny. People will really like it, and the songs will get stuck in your head — they’ve been stuck in my head for the past couple of months!”

Cast members urged people of all ages to come check out the theatrical spectacle on one of the upcoming show nights.

“The show is incredibly funny,” senior Jayci Gorza (Wednesday Adams) said. “It’s the funniest show I think we’ve ever done. In this COVID world, it’s something that offers everyone a chance to get out and have a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to lift your spirits.”

Members of the St. Clairsville Musical Theatre have overcome several challenges and obstacles to bring their production outdoors to assure their audiences are safely entertained.

“It’s been a rough year, so it’s kind of good to do something like ‘The Addams Family’ — as dark as it seems, it’s really funny,” senior Abby Berk (Morticia Addams) said. “There’s a ton of really talented people involved who have been working very hard. I hope everyone can come out and support St. C. and the amazing work of Wayne Berk.”

Because of the pandemic, the St. C. Musical Theatre has not put on a full-production performance since “Beauty and The Beast” in 2019, and they are ready and thrilled to step back in the spotlight. The community is encouraged to come watch them shine.

“After a whole year of having no live music, no entertainment, no Broadway shows … to be able to come out, sit in your lawn chair and enjoy kids doing high-level work with great music and lots of laughs, it will be a very entertaining night that will finally feel like something normal,” Berk said. “With all of the challenges of this past year, we hope everyone comes out to support these kids.”

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