The Addams Family: Glenbrook Musical’s cast and crew prepare for a bone-chilling performance

Caroline Ohlandt and Anna Marquardt

Hours after school, South’s vacant hallways echo with witty lines, upbeat music,  exuberant laughter and rhythmic snaps emanating from the cast of this year’s Glenbrook Musical, The Addams Family. Scattered in various rooms throughout the building, North and South students rehearse their lines, songs and dances to create a safe yet joyful performance that will be recorded and streamed virtually for all ticket-buyers to view from the safety of their homes.   

Since the very beginning of rehearsals, sophomore Student Director Tori Appel has been aiding performers through every step in the musical process, working to improve the show until the final blackout, Appel explained. She believes that the art and expression Glenbrook students have created overshadows the Covid-19 limitations, such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

“When I look at [the performers], I’m not focused on their masks or if they’re socially distanced,” Appel said. “I’m focused on the fact that we’re here and we’re able to do this.”

Sharing the sentiment as she soaks in every moment on stage with a powerful voice and iconic black dress, senior Olivia Geimer is taking on the role of Wednesday Addams, a sensible and gothic teen romantic. The show follows her character as she explores love with a young man with an extremely normal world and family life drastically different from the morbidly bizarre activities she and her wacky family participate in daily. Geimer explained that she recognizes the importance of Covid-19 restrictions and has worked past these obstacles to find a positive in using this chance to improve her performance.

“It is definitely hard not being able to stand close to other people when we’re in character,” Geimer said. “It has challenged us to think of creative ways to still get the same point across.”

Geimer cherishes the opportunity to perform one last time as a South student, with not only her classmates, but students from North as well, she explained. Unlike South’s fall musical, the Glenbrook musical provides a unique experience that allows students from both schools to work with people they otherwise wouldn’t have known, Geimer stated.

“I really appreciate the way the Glenbrook musical gives us the [chance] to get to know other [students] from North,” Geimer said. “I love having the opportunity to work with people outside of who I see every day at school.”

Taking the reins on this musical comedy from behind the scenes is Director Claire Drews, South drama, English and broadcasting teacher. Like Geimer, Drews expressed that being able to create relationships with students from both schools was a joyful surprise.

“Being able to meet students, get to know them [and] be exposed to their talent is just amazing,” Drews said.

Among the participants, there are nearly 70 student performers, composing two separate casts of North and South students, all eager to combine their talents and create a memorable production, Drews elaborated. Similarly to this year’s Variety Show, The Addams Family will be presented in a virtual format and will be available for multiple live streams of both casts, kicking off on May 12 at 7 p.m. Drews explained that witnessing students from all corners of the Glenbrook community interacting to create art together is an irreplaceable experience.

“You can tell [by] working with [the casts] and watching them be together that they’re happy to be able to do something that they really love,” Drews said.

Among the cast members is junior Greg Neppl, playing Lucas Beineke, the charming yet ordinary love interest to Wednesday Addams. As a third-year participant in the Glenbrook Musical, Neppl described that the highlight of the experience is getting to interact with his cast mates and participate in something they are all passionate about.

“I think all of us really have similar attitudes; all of us just want to have fun and become better performers,” Neppl said. “It’s a really great environment and it’s becoming a real family.”

Meanwhile, backstage in the wings, junior John Linden, a member of South’s stage crew, dons his all-black outfit and headphones. Linden, alongside the rest of the crew, painted and constructed the set of the musical, an essential aspect of The Addams Family’s plot. Together, they brought the Addams Family’s mansion to life on stage. Linden was able to help build a set unlike any he has built in the past and believes its complexities will impress every viewer.

“For this year, most of the set is hanging from the ceiling and a lot of the set pieces are able to move up and down, so I’m really looking forward to the final product,” Linden said.

Drews explained that the ultimate goal of everyone involved in the musical is to make the audience feel optimistic about the future. She feels that theatre has the power to unite its audience, regardless of how far apart they might be.

“I hope [the audience members] leave with a feeling of joy after watching [the musical], like they were able to escape for an hour and a half [and] come into this world with us,” Drews said.  “[I hope they] leave feeling hopeful about the state of theatre and the world.”