The Addams Family…Again!


Dennis McCully and Summer Bailing

The Poland Players have always put out some of the most memorable performances in theater out of all of the schools in the Youngstown area, and this past year has certainly been a test to the program! 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the players have all gone through some ups and downs. Between a completely virtual play in the fall and the previous musical being cancelled a week before opening night, the cast and crew has been longing to return to the stage again. As of spring 2021, they don’t have to look much further. 

Mrs. Candy Fonagy, the director of all Poland Players productions, has confirmed that the Addams Family, the cancelled musical from last spring, is making a return. 

Mrs. Fonagy has also confirmed that as of now the auditorium will be open to a limited audience with the addition of a live stream for the people that are unable to attend. 

The live stream will also be the main viewing site for everyone should plans change for the live audience. As excited as the community is, the return of this beloved musical raises some questions. 

The biggest question is how the cast members are going to perform as the government continues the vaccine rollout, and what the cast is going to look like now that the leading members have all graduated?

In an interview with a new player recast in this year’s production and a previous actor who never got to perform, we asked their opinions on this year’s Addams Family.

Sophomore Owen Rodgers, who was recast as the character Mal Beineke, said, “I really enjoy being a part of the Addams Family. Musicals and plays have been something that I have done ever since I had the opportunity to start doing them. One of my favorite parts of doing musicals is simply all of the social interactions with people and building friendships. As a kid who was newer to the school and didn’t talk with many people, joining the Poland Players was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. It was a way for me to talk with more people and open up more.” 

The return of the musical has meant the world to many of the people involved in it. 

So that begs the questions, how do they want it to be shown? 

“I would prefer the play to have a live audience, but I understand that may not be the case, and that is something that I understand given the circumstances,” Rodgers said. 

“In my opinion, and lots of other peoples’ opinions as well, it just would not be the same without a live audience. The show we did in the fall was good and people have said good things about it, but it just wasn’t the same. One of the best things is hearing people laugh when you say a line or do something and is something that makes me happy. I would enjoy doing both just as much. It allows those who want to go to the school to go and those who just want to stay home to stay home.” 

The push to have a live performance with an audience in the crowd was very strong coming from the cast and crew. 

Even the previous cast members who were robbed of their opportunity to perform had similar viewpoints. 

In an interview with Liam Morrison, the original actor for Uncle Fester and a Poland Seminary graduate, he had a similar viewpoint. 

Morrison said, “Personally, I would like to see the show live. I would much rather see it in person than over a computer screen.”

It is apparent that this musical means a lot to even those who didn’t get to perform it. 

Reflecting on his experience and the decision to recast his part, Morrison said this: 

“I do stand by the decision to recast the graduated cast members… We have to move on to other things and our time as a Poland Player has ended. [Mrs. Fonagy] already had the set built so I understand why the musical made a return. It’s a great musical that’s very funny, and I’m glad some of the original members are still a part of it.”

Mrs. Fonagy also gave her opinion on the recast of former senior players and her feelings are very similar to the ones of Liam Morrison.

Mrs. Fonagy said, “The plan was to invite the Graduates back if we were able to perform this show in the fall.  If that was not possible, and production had to wait until spring, then the current students would be cast in the show.  I am very sad that the community did not get to see the wonderful performances of those Seniors – they were terrific, but then, so is this cast!”

Although seniors had to give up their final roles, some of the original cast members who did not graduate returned for the musical and are equally enthused. 

However, as eager as everyone is to perform this musical for the community, there has been some pushback due to coronavirus concerns.

Rodgers and Morrison stressed the amount of work and passion everyone involved put in, and that it would be a travesty if they were not permitted to share their talents with the world. 

“There’s a lot of crazy stuff that happens and it’s an amazing story. It was so fun to be a part of and everyone should definitely check it out!” said Morrsion. 

Rodgers concurred, “I understand those who are skeptical about doing a play during a pandemic, I get it. Every single one of us is aware of the risk that we are running and don’t take it lightly. But, we all know what it is like to be so close to opening night, just to have it shut down and never perform. We keep each other safe. We have safety precautions and will do our best to make sure people feel comfortable being in the school and that people can see the show.”

Mrs. Fonagy shared her feelings as well, expressing how important it was for her to continue the development of Addams Family and also the convenience as well.

“I had decided that if we were able to do a show at all, it would be The Addams Family.  Since the set is 90% finished and the costuming was done, plus half of the leads are still students – this was my pick. I did not seriously consider any other show.”

Throughout these interviews there is one topic that the cast, crew, and Mrs. Fonagy can agree on is that the show must go on. 

The cast members are working hard not just for themselves but to bring a sense of normality back into our lives and to bring to life the Addams Family for the peoples who didn’t get to do it themselves.