A family like no other are moving into Sale Waterside next month to host a dinner like no other which changes lives forever, and you are all invited.
Junior Stage 80 (JS80) are back after a Covid enforced absence following their critically acclaimed, sold-out production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat way back in 2019. JS80 is a Jewish society with a mixed membership of all ages from those at primary school year 5 onwards with no upper age limit. Our very own editor Paul Downham is once again directing The Addams Family following his 2019 directorial debut with the same show at The Met in Bury which gained multiple NODA and ACT Nominations and awards. We sat down with Paul to discuss all things Addams ahead of next month’s opening night.
What has made you return to directing The Addams Family again following your huge success in 2019 with the same show?
This is actually my 4th time being involved with this particular show. I previously worked backstage with Hyde Musical Society and Meighan Youth Theatre before being asked to direct it with PADOS in 2019. I simply love the show! Andrew Lippa, who wrote the music and lyrics is one of my favourite composers and has written some amazingly catchy songs for Addams which challenge the cast vocally. JS80 approached me to direct the show, which was originally scheduled for November 2020, but we all know what happened in early 2020 and the wait to get going again has been tough after accepting their invitation.
As you said, the show was originally scheduled for 2020, how have the last 2 years been for you?
It has been tough, my life is amateur theatre and that was torn away from me, and countless others when Boris told us all to stay at home. On the plus side I have been able to retain my original production team into 2022 which was a huge thing for me personally. We are blessed to have the huge experience of Vanessa Cockburn as choreographer, someone I have worked on countless shows before and assisted by Katie Perkins who is making her debut as assistant choreographer whilst she continues to shine on stage in amateur productions across the area. I am also honoured to work with our MD Marilyn Blank who founded JS80 more years ago than she’d thank me to mention, a true professional. I am also looking forward to working again with Dave Wilkinson who designed and operated the sound for my 2019 production in Bury. Dave has stepped in to replace Glenn Knight who was sadly taken from us early in 2020. I dedicate this show to Glenn’s memory.
Having reviewed JS80’s shows previously the talent within is immense, how were auditions?
In a word tough! It is not often I need to ask for call backs in order to settle on a casting but in this case, I had no choice. The quality of the auditions was outstanding. Following numerous call backs, I am certain we have the best possible cast. Andrew Farley and Debbie Hilton are the perfect match as our leads Gomez and Morticia supported by pure talent. I remember saying at our first rehearsal, quoting from the show, we are ‘family first and family last’, and what a family we have created.
How has the rehearsal process been?
If I am honest, I would say challenging. Unlike professional theatre that has a compacted and intense rehearsal period, we have been in the rehearsal room since April. By virtue of outside influences and the ‘day job’ it means not everyone can attend every rehearsal, however as we stand today, we have the full show blocked and will spend this last few rehearsals running the show in order to make it the spectacular I envisaged. We have made great use of our private social media group to publish videos of scenes so those who could not make certain rehearsals can catch up. I genuinely don’t think audiences realise the amount of work that goes in to the rehearsal process from the cast. They are all dedicated to bringing you the best possible show to the stage.
So, what can we expect from the show?
First of all, I can guarantee you the biggest set I have ever seen on the Sale Waterside stage. We are bringing in an imposing two storey house placed right in the middle of Central Park in New York. There are illusions and some big surprises throughout the show. I only wish I could invite you all to sit at the Addams Family table for dinner!
Why should audiences come and join you for dinner next month?
I can guarantee you a night at the theatre you will talk about for days and weeks afterwards. From the moment you walk through the door you will be part of our family. You will laugh and possibly cry as my superb cast entertain you for just over 2 hours. We have special effects that will send you home asking ‘how’? I would also urge you to book soon, with Saturday night already SOLD OUT.
The Addams Family plays at Sale Waterside on the 8th, 9th, 10th and 12th November and tickets are available via www.watersidearts.org/whats-on/3237-js80-the-addams-family/ *Saturday night is SOLD OUT!