‘The Addams Family’ musical sets Drama Club up for future with more young students involved
The Poland Central School District Drama Club’s cast for “The Addams Family Young@Part” poses in costume on stage during rehearsal on Thursday, May 12.
POLAND – Bolstered by a large group of new sixth-graders and some new seventh-graders, the Poland Central School District Drama Club is preparing for both an upcoming musical and the future of drama productions at the school.
Poland English teacher and Michael Gagnon and Poland vocal music teacher Margaret Kraeger are sharing the spring Drama Club responsibility by co-directing “The Addams Family Young@Part,” and they’ve seen the younger students take advantage of their biggest opportunity since before COVID-19 to participate in Drama Club.
“We’ve got a lot of good, strong, younger kids who have gotten involved – it’s a good sign for the future,” Gagnon said. “Our program is getting back to where we were pre-COVID.”
The Drama Club, which is typically for grades 6-12, was only a couple of weeks away from performing “The Wizard of Oz” in March 2019, when the show got postponed and eventually canceled due to COVID-19. Then in June 2021, the Drama Club put on a show Drama Club members wrote themselves called “The Afterschool Special,” but it was limited to high-school students.
The Drama Club’s performance of “A Christmas Carol” in December 2021 allowed some younger students to get back involved, but there are more opportunities with the large cast of “The Addams Family Young@Part,” and middle-school students have stepped up to the opportunity.
The Poland Drama Club will perform “The Addams Family Young@Part” at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 20, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 21. Tickets for students are $5 online or $7 at the door. Tickets for everyone else are $7 online or $9 at the door. The Drama Club is encouraging people to order their tickets in advance online, where attendees can also reserve a specific seat, Gagnon said.
To purchase tickets online, click here.
‘How everything comes together’
Gagnon said the “Young@Part” version of “The Addams Family” was a good fit for the school because it works with a larger cast, has a good running time of about an hour and a half with intermission and is more family friendly. Gagnon hopes the show sends audience members home happy after a lot of laughs.
This show has taken on extra meaning for Gagnon because his son, seventh-grader Riley Gagnon, is playing Pugsley Addams. Riley first participated in a Drama Club show when he agreed to fill in for a student who was on COVID-19 quarantine during “A Christmas Carol,” and then decided to pursue a role in the new production.
Gagnon said he has enjoyed the experience directing his son and seeing how his son operates as an actor and a student.
“It’s just been fun for me to see him interact with his classmates and see him in a different light,” Gagnon said.
Another new aspect of this show for Gagnon is sharing the Drama Club advisor role with music teacher Kraeger. Kraeger started teaching in the district in September 2021 and wanted to learn about how Gagnon directs productions, so the two decided to work as co-advisors to Drama Club in the second semester.
Gagnon said Kraeger is responsive, works well with students, has good ideas and is helpful because they can bounce ideas off of each other.
Kraeger said she is thankful for Gagnon’s experience and willingness to show her just how much is involved with putting on a show. This is the first time Kraeger has been involved with a Poland Drama Club advisor role, or any production from start to finish, she said.
Seeing Gagnon’s rapport with the students is beneficial, and she helps through knowing many of the younger students more because she has them in class and, in some cases, chorus.
Poland alumna Alicia (Irwin) Roscup, a dance instructor, is helping with the choreography for the musical, Kraeger said.
“It takes a lot of expertise to make this work,” Kraeger said. “I get to focus on fine-tuning the music side of it.”
Kraeger said she expects attendees will be happy with how the show turns out.
“There’s a variety of musical styles, and I think they’re going to enjoy the whole package: the acting, the music, the choreography and the lighting and sound system in the new auditorium,” she said. “I think the audience will like to see how everything comes together.”
‘Different from everything else that I’ve done’
Gagnon said having sixth-graders and seventh-graders participating in their first show adds to the overall experience – including seeing them be nervous for auditions, stepping up to leadership roles and gaining knowledge as they’re mentored by older students.
Sixth-grader Julia Metzgier is playing the role of an ancestor in the show.
“I’ve been enjoying it,” she said. “I’m very awkward and not great at the dancing parts, but the singing and other parts are really fun.”
Julia said her involvement started with joining chorus, and that helped lead her to Drama Club. She also wanted to join because her aunt and uncle were involved with drama productions when they were in school, she said.
She has performed in front of crowds before during chorus, but the difference is that during chorus, you’re just standing still, she said.
“I’ve never done this before, but I feel like it’s going to be fun,” she said. “I think the audience will enjoy how there are unique characters in it. It’s just so much fun. It’s different from everything else that I’ve done.”
Julia also said that older students have been helpful for her and other sixth- and seventh-graders.
Senior Hunter Gilman, who is playing the lead role of Morticia Addams, said she’s happy to see so many younger students join Drama Club.
“I’m very excited,” Gilman said. “They’re really good kids, and they work super hard. I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do in the future.”
For Gilman, “The Addams Family” will be her final high-school performance.
“It’s my last show, so it’s very bittersweet,” she said.
Gilman is particularly looking forward to seeing 10th-grader Emma Taylor perform the role of Wednesday Addams because Taylor has worked hard over the years and is taking on a big role now.
For her own role, Gilman has had to learn how to alter her own bubbly personality to act at someone with a cynical personality, she said.
“I’m really out of my comfort zone,” she said. “It’s a very different kind of challenge.”
Gilman believes the musical will be well received.
“I think the audience is going to enjoy the comedy of the show and the different types of scenes we’ll be presenting,” she said. “There are a lot of good jokes for older kids, and a lot of good jokes for younger kids. It’s a real family friendly kind of show.”