North West Theatre Art Company – The Addams Family

They’ve only gone and done it again! Last month’s performance of ‘The Addams Family’ at NWTAC’s theatre on Lightbowne Road, Moston was yet another sell-out.

I went to the opening night with my family, we had a fantastic evening and were still laughing the next day.

Some of you may remember the original 1960’s TV series. Or, like my daughter and son-in-law, you’ve seen later movie or Netflix versions. If you are not familiar with the creepy, spooky and mysterious Addams family then you’re missing out and need to get a grip.

NWTAC’s cast were up there with the best of them and put on a hilarious version of the Broadway Musical.

The story-line centres on Wednesday Addams’ invitation to her boyfriend’s ‘normal’ American family to meet her distinctly ‘abnormal’ family for dinner. The Addams home is located deep in Central Park woods. It has a great banqueting hall, torture chamber and its own spooky graveyard full of Addams’ ancestors who have a knack of turning up all over the place.

Wednesday and her boyfriend, Lucas Beineke, are in love but she begs her father Gomez to keep it a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia, to ensure the evening goes smoothly. That’s quite a challenge for this household!

Poor, poor Gomez. He connects with the audience immediately, gains their sympathy for his situation and our toes curl when his wife Morticia gets suspicious. Plenty more secrets are thrown into the pot to be winkled out as the fateful evening unfolds.

It’s fair to say the Addams Family characters are iconic. This must have inspired the casting at NWTAC as each part was perfectly matched. Gomez and Morticia, played respectively by Anthony Horricks and Evie Lucas, were simply delicious and brilliant.

Rehearsals with Anthony Horricks and Evie Lucas in the centre

I couldn’t keep my eyes off ‘the eyes’ of Uncle Fester played by Olivia Hollamby. The expression on his, or rather her face, was astonishing and her comic timing gifted. I think I gasped when she first entered the stage. She looked amazing and I had to check my programme to make sure I’d read it right.

Poppy Evans, who took the part of Wednesday, delivered wile and sass in equal measure and was wonderfully wicked. She wrapped her parents around her little finger and oozed confidence. However, when the prim mother of Lucas, Alice Beineke (aka Paige Garth), went wild and passionate on the night of the dinner, on the table no less, Wednesday’s hopes for ‘normal’ flew out the door.

Entwined throughout the story are the Addams Ancestors. They complement the production with their own comedy input, sweeping dance moves and choral contributions. It was a brilliant show with a happy ending. Relationships get their ‘zing’ back while Gomez and Morticia celebrate success with a romantic weekend at the worst hotel in France. Perfection!

Gomez and Morticia (original 1960’s TV series)

Too many to mention individually, every single member of the cast gave it their all and shone.

The script was hilarious, the vocals and dance routines swept the audience along. Sitting quietly at their stations either backstage or in the tech area of the theatre are the production crew. They work their magic to create an experience and atmosphere that’s quite special. Do not under-estimate their skill. The sound, lighting, sets, costumes and make-up play an essential part while Front of House staff complete the package.

My utmost respect to the management team and directors, this has to be one of the best musical comedies I’ve ever seen.

NWTAC are committed to entertain you with a range of performances throughout the season and they’re working on 2023/2024 right now. Tickets are all reasonably priced so keep an eye on their website and social media so you don’t miss out.

Related Stories

North West Theatre Arts Company – Rent

I’m seated in the front row at NWTAC’s theatre on Lightbowne Road, Moston to see an award winning rock opera called Rent, set in the late 80’s. I have no preconceptions. I know only one song from the show, “525,600 minutes”.

The audience filter in from the bar, get comfy and settle down.

There’s a hush as the lights go down…

The opening scene is set in a cold, bleak attic apartment and the opening number places it in New York – there’s no missing that accent. Mark and Roger can’t afford food nor pay the rent. The storyline follows the two young men and their friends; musicians, dancers, film makers, etc., for one full year.

James Llewellyn Burke and Anthony Horricksset design by Mark Beaumont

Poverty, drug addiction, sexual orientation, new relationships, lost love and a deadly illness called AIDS all impact on their dreams and aspirations as the year unfolds. 525,600 minutes to be precise.

There’s no spoken dialogue…

It’s a musical! The story-telling ability of the cast is superb. Each song is not just recited it’s delivered with passion, you empathise automatically with each individual character. Whatever anguish or emotions they are experiencing leaves you as sad or happy or crushed or defiant or desperate as they are.

Owen Garcia, played the flamboyant and vivacious Angel Schunard beautifully. He owned the space when he took to the stage and won the heart of Tom Collins, played by Prab Singh. In fact, he won all our hearts.

The multi-talented Anthony Horricks played the mournful musician Roger Davis. He and James Llewellyn Burke, aka Mark Cohen, had a great rapport. They are both powerful singers who worked really well together, with a treat from Anthony’s guitar playing thrown in. Solomon Asante-Owusu conveyed a clean cut, controlled Benny Coffin III and looked every bit the part of a wealthy landlord.

There’s love in the air as well as despair…

Bring on the girls! Mimi is a dancer in a strip club, she’s seductive and sultry but yearns for real love. Maria Collins played her perfectly. Maureen, played by Halle Kerley, is also a performing artist; bi-sexual, risqué and self-assured. She’s rejected Mark to be with the affluent Joanne Jefferson, a lesbian activist, played by Annabelle Cook. Ladies, what would your mother’s say! You all looked and sounded AMAZING.

From left to right: Annabelle, James, Anthony, Owen, Prab, Maria, Halle, Solomon

The vocals were fabulous. The faces on the main line-up says it all. They love what they do.

The supporting cast played anything up to three roles each. They lightened the mood, brought a brighter tone to the dark subjects being portrayed and were really refreshing.

Hats off to Beth Singh, Musical Director. She stepped lightly onto the stage at the end to take a bow on behalf of all the Production Team. It doesn’t happen without them and they thoroughly deserved the applause too.

Next up for NWTAC is A Night at the Cavern Club starring Beth Singh as Cilla Black and featuring hits by The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers and more. It runs on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th Feb. Tickets are on sale now but will sell fast so don’t hang about.

Follow NWTAC on Facebook for details of future performances, tickets, offers and updates or click here for NWTAC’s website. You can add your details to the mailing list and get updates straight to your inbox.

Related Stories

North Manchester AODS – The Black and White Mikado

It’s the time of year for welcoming guests and offering hospitality. Last week North Manchester Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society took to the stage at NWTAC’s theatre on Lightbowne Road, Moston, taking advantage of an excellent facility and support team.

The Black and White Mikado ran for four nights and I joined a packed audience for the opening show on Wednesday 8th December. I use the term ‘show’ loosely. The Mikado is an ‘operetta’ (part opera, part dialogue) and, typical of a Gilbert and Sullivan composition, has a light-hearted, comedic storyline.

Originally set in Japan and lavishly colourful this version is very ‘1920’s British’ with art deco scenery and matching black and white costumes. The effect is striking and works well, along with adaptations to the original script.

Even if you think you don’t know ‘The Mikado’ you will almost certainly be familiar with several of its musical numbers: A Wandering Minstrel, The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring, Three Little Maids From School Are We… and more. If you don’t recognise them, I can only assume that you played truant from school.

Charlotte Crossley took the lead female role, Yum-Yum. She has a delightful voice, clear as a bell. She reminded me of a fresh faced Julie Andrews and I’d be delighted to see her take on a part like Mary Poppins or Maria Von Trapp. I’m certain she could rival Julie any day.

Seb Lassandro, aka Ko-Ko (the Lord High Executioner), was perfectly cast. He entered the stage with his ‘little list’ speech which, in keeping with tradition, included current famous and infamous miscreants who deserve his ‘executioning‘ talents. The audience nodded their approval several times and one or two suggested victims even got cheers. I may have heard a certain Boris mentioned.

Seb’s lively portrayal of Ko-Ko was animated and thoroughly entertaining. He charmed the audience and gained much sympathy for inadvertently losing his young charge, love and future bride Yum-Yum to the Wandering Minstrel Nanki-Poo, played by Lawrence Shoebridge.

I was genuinely impressed by the repertoire and wealth of experience that the leads and supporting cast brought to this production; Jill Ratcliffe, Dave Seager, Mike Nash, Jack Brierley, Rebecca Tonge and Steph Eckhardt played their characters convincingly.

The producer, Paul Allcock did a superb job of pulling everything together to make The Black and White Mikado a successful stage production; opera singers, actors and wider cast, dancers and musicians included. The latter earned applause for their impeccable timing, so too the dancers from the Anita Tymcyshyn School of Dancing for bringing grace and elegance into the mix. Well done all!

The programme included an introduction from the Society’s Honorary President David Gordon and a thank you to the audience “without whom there would be no shows and no society”. How true.

North Manchester AODS have existed for decades. They haven’t performed a show this extravagant for some time, notwithstanding the interruption presented by Covid.

A few weeks ago Nick Lowe, Secretary, Gentleman of Japan, Assistant Producer, Projectionist and professional multi tasker loaned me a book on the history of the Society ‘celebrating a hundred years of amateur theatre’. It is AWESOME. Contact Nick if you want a copy because I’m keeping mine.

There is a quote in it by the Blackley Guardian about the first show that took place in 1920.

“The Simpson Memorial Amateur Dramatic Society, Moston, has scored a great success in the presentation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera THE MIKADO….The Society is to be congratulated firstly on it’s selection and secondly on the manner in which it was performed.”

A century on and I couldn’t sum it up better.

Related Stories