The Addams Family Musical at ASW, During COVID-19

By Carolina Barsakov,

Despite the ongoing global pandemic, the American School of Warsaw found a way to put together The Addams Family spring musical. 

The performance took place in March in our theatre on campus. Having the knowledge of how many people it takes to put together a show like that (cast, crew), leaves some people questioning how this was possible, during covid.

Ms. Bechdoldt, music director of the show and choir teacher at ASW, said “We look for shows that will both teach skills, be joyful, and build community. This year we had narrowed it down to a few choices but none of them felt really right for the year, the situation, or the learning.” 

“On the very last day,” Ms. Bechdoldt said, “When we absolutely had to decide, Mr. Pavlos came in and said, ‘I have a new idea,’ and played a scene from The Addams Family Musical. The possibilities for the set and lighting were really cool, and we knew that it would be a fun challenge for the crew to put together. We decided very quickly after that. It was a bonus that the themes of the show fit really nicely with COVID times – finding joy in the darkness.”

Although there were struggles with the decision of which musical to pursue, getting approval for one to take place, wasn’t as challenging as one might expect it to have been during these times. Mr Pavlos, acting director of the show and theatre teacher at ASW, said “the process was the same. Once we made the choice (Ms. B and I), I applied for the licensing rights and they were approved pretty straightforward.”

“The school board was also fully supportive,” he added. “After Noises Off in the Fall, and then the middle school’s production of Little Mermaid, there was no real question of ‘If’ we could do a show, it was really only a question of ‘what’, ‘when and how’. Of course, we had conversations about singing on stage and how to keep it as safe as possible.”

“From the perspective of the music director,” said Ms. Bechdoldt, “the biggest effect COVID had was the necessity of masks. Keeping us safe was the first priority, but that meant that we had to be wearing proper masks, properly fitted, at all times. It’s not easy for a teacher to demonstrate the shape or pronunciation of a vowel when the teacher and the student are both wearing masks!”

This year’s preparation took a little bit of a different route than school plays and musicals in the past, “It was harder to perform, absolutely,” said Mr. Pavlos. “We never had more than 40 minutes of sustained singing in one location without a rotation of spaces/people. That being said, I think this production was the most organized play I’ve ever directed. Everyone knew their respective roles and jobs, so there was very little overlapping or things that fell ‘through the cracks’.”

Mr Pavlos notes how, “No one in the cast/crew took the production for granted. Everyone wanted to be there, and knew early on how good it was going to be – and so they worked hard from the start. There also wasn’t a lot of other big activities going on at the same time that conflicted with the production, as in no sports or other trips taking people away.”

“Producing and performing a musical felt so joyous. Putting the whole show together was, I think, a symbol of the hope for bringing people and community back together, after so long apart,” says Mrs B. “So I think being able to put on the show was our own way of re-creating community.”

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