By Joe Bachman
STEVENS POINT — You may call them ‘altogether ooky’, but you can also call them Wisconsin Rapids natives.
Just in time for Halloween, the Central Wisconsin Area Community Theater (cwACT) will run the Addams Family Musical at Sentry Theater in Stevens Point this fall. While this extensive cast has brought thespians from all over, including Point, Plover and Waupaca, the show will include four originally from Wisconsin Rapids.
Theater veteran Susan Edgren has come a long way from her first stage role as a mouse in community theatre opera Brittens’ Noye’s Fludde at only 8-years-old. She’s been active in theater ever since, acting in the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, Summer Stock in Shakopee, and White Bear Theater. She eventually made her way to the area 19 years ago and has been active in the Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre, (WRCT) and cwACT ever since, directing and acting in multiple shows.
According to Edgren, her role as the free-spirited Grandma Addams may be one of her most challenging roles, yet.
“My biggest challenge in this show is keeping up with the much younger cast in the choreography,” said Edgren. “I was never trained in dance, and I don’t move as well as I used to.”
Edgren holds a Bachelors in Theatre/Communications, as well as a Masters in Theatre Directing from the University of Minnesota.
“I will be involved in theatre, especially directing, until death comes around the corner for me. That’s an Addams’ promise.”
Playing the role of beloved Fester Addams is 19-year-old Wisconsin Rapids native Landen Alft, who is currently attending UWSP for a Choral Music Education Major. Alft has seen extensive work from performances at Lincoln High School, to the State Theatre Festival at UW-Whitewater. On playing such a well-known character, there has been a lot thrown Alft’s way. According to Alft, learning to play ukulele while singing wasn’t the only challenge in this show, but maintaining a Fester-like energy.
“A challenge is keeping up the energy,” said Aflt. “As Fester, I am always popping up and singing little numbers or big numbers, and the energy level needs to be so high it gets tiring — but it’s so much fun.”
Alft cites the bigger show numbers as his favorites to look out for, including “When You’re an Addams”, “One Normal Night” and “Full Disclosure”.
“They are so entertaining, and very fun to sing,” said Alft. “Also seeing everyone move around as their characters is very enjoyable to watch.”
Taking up the role of the Ancestor Bride is 19-year-old Melanie Miller, who has been on stage in some form for over a decade. She has found joy in theater through performing in Lincoln High School shows, the Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre, and the UW-Whitewater State Theatre Festival in 2016. Miller is currently attending UWSP for Choral Music Education.
“I’ve played a wide range of characters before, but never someone who has risen from the dead,” said Miller. “…but I really enjoy the challenge of bringing life to my character onstage and sharing her story.”
Miller, who considers theater one of her greatest passions, points out that while there will be so much going on in the show — that the audience shouldn’t forget about the ancestors.
“I really enjoy when the Addams Family ancestors ‘rise from the dead’ in the beginning of the show,” said Miller. “…each of the ensemble member has a moment to shine and show the world who their character is.”
Finally, at 55-years-young is former Broadway and TV performer Joel Goodness, who will play the role of Mal Beineke. While Goodness has lived all over the country, from New York and Miami, to Chicago and Los Angeles, he is originally from Wisconsin Rapids — and now calls it home once again. Goodness has performed in everything from soap operas, TV commercials, cruise ships, and even on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Goodness was even cast in the original Broadway act ‘Crazy For You’. With such an impressive resume of acting experience, it’s the new generation of performers that has Goodness excited for this show.
“I enjoy seeing a generation of performers that I can see experience finding their character, and discovering multiple levels and layers,” said Goodness. “…I like to try to help them in their journey.”
While he enjoys gardening and travel in his off-time, Goodness has kept busy when it comes to performing, and even has an agent out of Green Bay.
“I want to continue with being involved in the business as long as I can.”
You can catch the Addams Family Musical on Oct. 27-29, and Nov. 3-4 at Sentry Theater in Stevens Point, 1800 Northpoint Dr. For tickets, head to cwtickets.com