CHHS theater department wows audiences again


Rae Lawrence

The CHHS Musical cast of “The Addams Family” ended 2022 off with a bang, performing for the Columbia Heights community.

This story was originally published in the Heights Herald print edition.

Thursday, December 1 2022, Columbia Heights High School premiered their stage production of the musical “The Addams Family” — a mixed bag of sugar-free delights,  featuring admitted shortcomings but several strengths. The talent that went into it, as well as the efforts involved, were remarkable and great in stature.

The visual acting was one of the most consistently competent parts of the play—just about every single appearance by a member of the primary cast more than adequately portrayed their respective characters. The father, Gomez (played by sophomore Leo Pham) was played as a charismatic and optimistic, if perhaps at times lacking in assertion, protagonist. The mother, Morticia (played by senior Danquyen Le), played for a mildly stiff in behavior but predominantly well-intentioned parental figure. 

The eldest child, Wednesday (played by senior Malachi Tranby Jones), served the character well as they were one of the most level-headed, and the son, Pugsley (played by junior Lily Kleinschmit), was one of the most emotionally intense performances. 

The portrayal of Fester (played by freshman Drake Kembitskey), the uncle figure, initially caused a bit of confusion, but as the show continued, the bombastic delivery of their role served the character well. And, of course, the homunculus figure Lurch (played by senior Brylee Torkelson), who is often played as a juxtaposition to Gomez, was stellar with quite a proper understanding of the role. 

Finally, there was also the Grandmother (played by junior Rosie Smith), who was very entertaining, though the character was unfortunately underutilized.

The main thrust of the play’s conflict came with the introduction of Wednesday’s love interest Lucas (played by senior Mathias Wheeler) & his family, all of whom did quite the adequate job playing as foils to the overwhelmingly absurd family cast. Forming a relatively standard nuclear family with a mildly rebellious but standard enough son, a gruff & at times unsupportive father (played by freshman Lillianna Knoke Borris), and a soft-spoken and polite mother (played by senior Sophie Kuether). Knoke Borris did an excellent job depicting the change to his younger, more liberated self, while Kuether played her character’s rediscovered zest for life boldly.

The “Addams Family” crew was bold and reliable too. Three distinctions stick out with regard to the lighting (operated by senior Hannah Severson), specifically the intense torture number early into the musical, the use of strobe lights toward the middle of the production, and the witty use of a side-screen moonlight projection later on.

The scenic props (constructed in part by sophomore Sailor Sandvik, freshman Winter Kieffer and more) contributed to the scenes dramatically too, perfectly conveying the unnerving but off-the-walls energy of “The Addams Family”. 

One of the show’s melodic highlights, the torture theme, also served as the overall high-point of the entire musical. I truly & verily believe that the acting & vocal performances, as well as the expert use of lighting, made this scene something special, from Kleinschmit’s emotionally intense acting which perfectly conveyed the absurdity and intensity, to the use of Tranby Jones’s strong vocals, the scene made expert use of all of its greatest strengths.

  ”The Addams Family” was what it says on the tin:  Creepy, Kooky, Mysterious, and Altogether Spooky. An enjoyable performance, to be sure, with some less than remarkably rehearsed choreography and pre-packaged main stage background projections, but every single low-point was more than justified by the high-points – it was a thoroughly enjoyable musical.