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The Addams Family as presented by Aghada Centre Theatre Group



Adjudication Performance Sunday 18th February.

“True happiness comes from being who we want to be, no matter what the norm and its expectations are, and being authentically honest in who you are, no matter what the expectation of others, is enough”. 

Aghada is the most picturesque and tranquil of places in the lovely East Cork, a few miles from Midleton, which I was lucky to visit on my AIMS journey this year. A new Society to AIMS, it was a joy to meet the lovely cast, crew, and locals of this beautiful place, which has been their 10th Production since being founded. “The Addams Family”. I am so happy to have the honour of being your first Adjudicator. Aghada Centre Theatre group is an exceptional group of people who, every year for the past ten years, donate ALL of their surplus funds after expenses to charity. Truly Special. Upon my arrival, I was greeted by Le-Anne Tynan, Ann-Marie O’Keeffe, Chairpersons of the Theatre Group and Helen Walsh and Front of House team. I watched the dry ice beginning to billow out from the Theatre into my path, with the cobwebs and eeriness enveloping me once I stepped into the Foyer. This foyer was decorated beautifully, so one could be forgiven for believing you were on the stage rather than the entrance. The attention to detail was so intricate, complex, and vast, with beautiful lighting and a cavernous atmosphere, which I was immediately taken by. I was given the most lovely goodie bag with both chocolate and crisps promoting local producers in the area, a precious gift bag with a big gold bow, and, of course, my program. A buzz of pride and excitement, laughter and chatter, of the patrons immediately surrounded me. Indeed, the Community of Aghada's massive support for this group was evident as I waited for the show to begin. A beautiful welcome.

Director and producer Sinead Dunlea has been involved with ACTG for ten years. This is a small stage, with every available space like gold dust and a big cast. Ms Dunlea worked this venue very well. Ms. Dunlea brought to life the dark humour and quirkiness of the Addams family with some perfect comedy moments throughout, which can indeed be difficult to marry the two effectively sometimes. However, this production had a lovely balance and worked well, bringing the show and the Addams Family story together seamlessly and effectively. Ms Dunlea’s attention to detail is everywhere in this production, from the eerie sound effects to the interactions between the various characters with their needs, struggles, and desires.

The cast were very well suited to each other visually and vocally. I loved the cascading dry ice flowing off the stage for the Overture. The entrance of the Addams family and the introductions to each character, the family dinner was superb, with the cast members coming up out of the audience to be seated along a huge intricately designed dinner table the width of the stage, and it was seamlessly moved. Everyone in place very quickly yet without rush. I loved how the cast under Ms Dunlea's direction moved slowly, smoothly, creepily, and eerily throughout. There was never a rushing or quick movement, and a relaxing ambiance was created throughout the production. It did occur to me that your direction, along with the rest of your Production team, really did have a real family feel here- pardon the pun- on and off the stage, and it was a joy to watch. There was a lovely atmosphere all around me, but in particular, what stood out for me in your role as Director were the intricacies of building your show with a small space and lots of people, along with telling the story of The Addams family. The direction here was a treat and a success for all of the above reasons, and I do say very well done to a gorgeous show and it certainly worked.

The choreographer was Aileen McMurtry. Choreography lifted this show with energy in the darkness and gloom. “Full Disclosure” was super, a significant number, slick, professional, and dramatic. “When You’re an Addams.” Gomez's moves in this were excellent, and his connection with Morticia highlighted the superb chemistry between these two actors; he moved excellently, as did Wednesday with her sharper, more rebellious movements, yet lovely all the same. The choreography showed the characters and the differences between everyone in great detail in their dance movements. The choreography added an extra layer to the ghoulish, spooky atmosphere that had already emanated from the beginning of the Overture. “When You’re an Addams,” the opening number with the Addams family introducing themselves, was an explosion of light drama, dance, and sound. “Not Today” with Gomez and Ensemble was simple and gorgeous, with the movements all around making this number a picture, a vision, and a scene of beauty. Choreography by Ms McMurtry was inventive, engaging, and seamlessly integrated into the storytelling. Attention to detail and the varying dance styles, from tango, as mentioned above, to more modern, was a visual treat for the audience and enhanced the whole production beautifully. Well, done, Ms McMurtry. Your talent in this show shone through your cast. Beautiful job.

The Musical Director was Mr Robbie Pender. Upon my arrival, I didn’t see the Orchestra in the pit; however, I did not expect to find them high up backstage on a platform built over the stage similar to the mezzanine level, looking down on the cast and the proceedings. This was a work of art and such a clever idea, and it worked beautifully, enhancing the show. The Orchestra was on stage the whole time, only up high and shielded from the cast with the various objects described above so as not to distract from the on-stage performances of the Cast “Full Disclosure” was a superb number in its chaos and comedy. “Death is just Around the Corner” with Uncle Fester, with his lovely cheerful disposition and sweet vocal, immediately caught my attention, and “Crazier than You” with Wednesday and Lucas these all were highly memorable moments in the show with beautiful emphatic accompaniment and sound with colossal respect and rapport with and for the performers beneath their feet every single second of the show. Principal cast and chorus were well rehearsed and showed confidence in their Musical director . It was obvious that great attention to detail was also done on a one to one basis as well as the ensemble. Well done.

The Stage Manager was Aoife Ryan. Design and Construction Managers were Tony O’Shea and Leonard Ryan, with the Set Construction Team, Tony O’Shea, Mili Rilov, Justin Dunlea, Declan Devoy Martin Ryan, Jason Ryan, Declan Ryan, Dave O’Shea, Bill Steele, Austin Broderick and Midleton Men’s Shed. This is a vast group and team effort, and the Set was a considerable success in-depth, solidity, and appropriateness. Given the tight space around the stage hall and backstage, the Set Design worked very well with clever use of the stage, such as placing the Orchestra above the stage, with a very secure balcony/plinth purpose-built. The sets moved smoothly, and a good team worked very well together. The sets had a very successful gothic architecture, and despite the darkness, they were glamorous. The sets were authentic. The rack-like ladder down stage right where Pugsley resided for a few moments in Act 1, was very detailed, again giving more depth to the stage, and this visually was very effective, thorough, and clever in its design and practicality. The panelled effect walls the width of the back of the stage painted in brown with the drab but gothic grey door in between them used as an entrance was very clever and, again, great attention to detail here. So well done to you, Ms Ryan, and the Design and Construction Management team. A great success indeed in this area.

The lighting and Design Engineer was David James (D2K Ltd). This lighting from the moment the curtains opened was excellent. Magnificent use of spots and colour, and no one was ever in the shadows. From the lighting of The Addams Family home to the yellows and reds in Act 1 of Morticia’s scene, they were so lovely and practical. They were lifting the darkness superbly. The scene with Gomez and Mal Beineke was lit beautifully again, with excellent use of spots, bringing the spots down through the middle aisle into the audience. I loved using the dim lighting to exaggerate the dull, gloomy, eerie atmosphere in complete contrast to the brighter lighting described above in other areas and scenes. The use of beautiful colour in the many scenes, with particular mention again for the clever use of spots, was very well done—beautiful lighting design throughout, Mr James.

Sound Engineer (D2K Ltd) Florent Sabarros, Back Stage Engineer (D2K Ltd) Luciano Costa, with Mic Caller Paul Ryan. The sound was generally excellent overall; however, there were moments during the show, particularly in Wednesday's and Morticia's dialogue, that I could not hear properly, which was slightly distracting. This mainly was in Act 1. I would have liked the mics / Radio mics to have been louder for these two characters – singing-wise, both vocals were powerful. However, it was the dialogue that I missed quite a bit of, particularly mentioning the scene with Wednesday and Lucas. And Gomez and Morticia. I still understood the story and could follow. I would have liked the speaking voices to be louder because of the balance in several numbers. Also, when the above were singing, their voices were a little lost by the sound of the Orchestra. This was no fault of the Orchestra whatsoever. I found it difficult to hear the dialogue, which is a pity as the show was glorious from beginning to end. Radio Mics could have been louder here also; however, it was only a small number of incidences that I struggled to hear.

Make-up artists and Assistants were a hell of a team. What an array of responsibility on your shoulders here to create the visions for this show, The Addams Family. The makeup was brilliant and a huge success! Gomez, Morticia, Pugsley, Grandmother, Wednesday, Uncle Festers specifically, of course, and the Chorus's makeup was sensational. I think of how many hours it took to get this right every evening in such superb detail. Bravo.

Costumes and Props & Wigs. The Costume Designer was Mary Collier and her team of Angela Barry, Magdolna Kiss, Roisin O’Sullivan, Mary Collier, Liz Callery, and Fiona Devoy. Mary and her team made beautiful costumes together from materials kindly donated by James Cooney and adapted costumes obtained from various other sources. The costumes were on point, appropriate, very professional, and authentic. I loved Gomez's dapper pinstripe suit and Morticia gown. The costumes overall were excellent, Ms Collier and team. The props were also all super throughout. Well done to the team involved in the above regions; whether your role was big or small, it does not matter. It was a huge success. Well done to every one of you.

Brian O’Riordan played Gomez. What a charming character Mr O’Riordan made of this character. Tall, brooding, dark, funny, eloquent, dramatic, and adorable all in one with a lovely singing voice and acting skills superbly cast in this vital role, he took it and made it his own, and it was a success. He is a lovely character and has a sweet connection with Morticia and his family in Wednesday, Pugsley, and Grandma Addams. An anchor character in the overall story, his love for his family and other eccentricities endeared me to him immediately—his lovely singing tone and marvellous stage presence. Well, done, Mr. O’Riordan, you were a fantastic and likable Gomez. Congratulations.

Julie Buckley played the part of Morticia Addams, Gomez's wife and mother to Pugsley and Wednesday. Visually, you were so very striking, Ms Buckley, with costume, hair makeup, props, vocals, and oh-so-wonderful dramatic facial expressions with eyes like pools of water with lovely vocals and expressions. You were a very striking Morticia, Ms Buckley, and a very successful one. You made it your own. Your relationships with your children Wednesday and Pugsley were adorable, and your face when you gave the look of disdain to anything you did not like was class! All it took was one withering look from yourself, and everyone crumbled to your wishes, demands, and rules: superb facial expression here, Ms Buckley. You were a lovely leading lady to Gomez, an excellent vocalist, and a fantastic visual. Bravo.

Willow Buckley played the part of Wednesday Addams. This young lady possesses a lovely stage presence and glorious voice and is so suited to this enjoyable role. I loved your voice. It has a clear, beautiful tone, lovely diction, and musicality, and you are very at ease in your singing and acting, Ms Buckley. Strong-willed and with your Father wrapped around your little finger, you were a firm Wednesday Addams. I did mention already under sound that I did find it hard to hear some of your lines in Act 1. Your voice could have been a little louder as I missed some of your lines – however, without hesitation, I can say your voice is gorgeous. You were a powerful link in the overall success of this show, Ms Buckley, in so many ways, as mentioned above, and I hope you continue to be a part of stage life in the future. You were indeed especially vocally a beautiful Wednesday Addams, and congratulations. I thoroughly enjoyed your performance.

Layla Rose O’Shea played Pugsley Addams and what a lovely character, Ms O’Shea. From the moment you arrived on stage, I was taken by your expression, especially your eyes, your costume and your makeup. Along with this, you were so relaxed in every part of this show; you suited this part very well and were very well directed, and I believe that you enjoyed this role immensely from what I saw. At 12 years of age, and this being your very first Musical production, you are a natural on stage. Mischievous and lovable, you were a lovely Pugsley Addams, and I hope you continue your journey on stage now after your first Musical here with this lovely group. Well, you're done, Ms O’Shea. It is a joy to watch you in this role as Pugsley Addams.

Patrick Kirwan played the part of Uncle Fester Addams. Beautiful role. You have a lovely character, great costume, and beautiful vocals, Mr Kirwan. You were a delight each time you came on stage to sing or to act. Your song To the Moon was a highlight of the show for me. It was so softly sung with such feeling with the ensemble around you, and your song of love was simply so moving, bright, and full of love. With your contrast to the darkness of the Addams family story, you created a balance that knitted the emotions of this show together to create its success. This was a fantastic role for you, Mr Kirwan. Well, you were done.

Orla Burke played the part of Grandma Addams. Magnificent role, Ms Burke. Your hair, costume, walk, stoop, teeth, and voice all added to a Grandma Addams, who was beautiful on stage and an exceptional character in this lovely show. You moved so quickly around the stage that it's obvious you are no stranger to it, and your costume was so well made it stood out. Quirky, scary (the makeup!), vocal, able to stand up for yourself without fear, and a charming stage presence. This was such an enjoyable cameo role in this show that you performed an exceptionally high acting talent and stagecraft. You were awesome, Ms Burke, in every way in this role. Congratulations.

Milivoj Rilov played the part of Lurch. What a scary Lurch you made from the word go. That hand on your shoulder was marvellous but very scary at the same time. Your height alone gave you an excellent visual stage presence, and you were very influential in your role. It was your voice. Your unique bass voice blew me away when you sang. There was a strength, force, and quality behind your voice here that is rare. It was wonderful. What a fabulous part you played here, Mr Rilov. Magnificent in this role. Bravo.

Elvira Walsh played the part of Alice. Firstly, you had a lovely stage appearance, softly spoken and mannerly. I loved your yellow dress like a beacon in the darkness, and this part suited you. With stunning acting and gorgeous singing voices, you and Mal, your husband, played by Wayne McSweeney, were a lovely couple on stage with excellent rapport and stage chemistry between you both. Nothing seemed to disturb or perplex you about the Addams family, and you also had a lovely singing voice. I liked your role in this, Ms Walsh. There is a complete contrast in nearly every aspect of your character compared to the Addams family. It didn’t take a whisker out of you. It was a significant part, a lovely role, acted and sung beautifully, Ms Walsh, and well done.

Wayne McSweeney played the part of Mal Beineke. This was a lovely role, imposing business-like character and Lucas's Dad and husband to Alice. Trying to do the best for your son, meet the future in-laws, behave accordingly, and try not to be shocked by many of the intricate running’s of the Addams family themselves. Lovely movement on stage, confident and assured, and impeccably dressed. Lovely voice. Well, you done, McSweeney. You were a wonderful Mal Beineke. Congratulations on a charming performance all around.

Jack O’Leary played the part of Lucas. In love with Wednesday Addams, the contrast created between yourself and Wednesday initially was very well done. You dressed as a city gentleman and Wednesday in her dark gothic-like character, but you did look good together, and you both had a lovely rapport. Perfectly cast, it was a joy to watch you on stage, and I enjoyed what you made of this lovely role. I wish you well and hope you continue participating in Theatre / Musical life in the future.

I was genuinely amazed at this group's care, honour, and generosity, raising much-needed funds for various Charities for the last ten years and this year is no different. Thank you for allowing me to witness your show, and I wish you many years of continued success from the bottom of my heart. You are a unique bunch, and I will never forget you. Bravo. It was indeed a pleasure.

Caroline Daly Jones

Sullivan Adjudicator AIMS 2023 / 2024

Some photos kindly shared by the society - Photographer - TamasHaasz 


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