It's an age-old story: Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, girl lives in a haunted house and keeps monsters for pets.
Can this relationship — or, more importantly, these family relationships — be saved?
Director Christi Sears is asking mid-valley audiences to join in learning the answer as "The Addams Family," a musical comedy with plenty of creepy and kooky, hits the stage starting this Friday at Albany Civic Theater. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. May 3, 4, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25, with 2:30 p.m. matinees on May 12 and 19.
Audiences who loved 1960s television likely will be familiar with the main characters of "The Addams Family," who also made it to the big screen multiple times starting in the 1990s. Created by cartoonist Charles Addams, the Addamses and their relatives are your basic loving American family — just with a slightly ghoulish twist.
Dean and Mirinda Keeling play Gomez and Morticia Addams, with Adam Keeling as son Pugsley and Emily Dale as daughter Wednesday. Ed Beaudry and Stephanie Marie take on the roles of Uncle Fester and Grandmama, and Logan Burt suits up to be the butler, Lurch.
Up until now, it's never really mattered to Wednesday that most of her family dresses in black, ghostly ancestors are regular visitors and her mother sings with real delight about death being just around the corner. But Wednesday has met a sweet young man named Lucas (Daniel Lutz), and he's — well — normal.
Worse than that, he and his parents (Josh Anderson and Kim Garwood as Mal and Alice Beineke) are coming to dinner.
Just for one night, Wednesday pleads with her family members, can't they be "normal," too?
Yes. Well, maybe. Well ... what is normal, anyway? And who gets to decide?
"We live in a society that's unique and diverse. We live in times where it's important that we're welcoming to all people," Sears said. "I believe this is a show that embraces this through humor."
Dale said she hopes audiences will take away the message that Wednesday eventually embraces: the importance of being yourself.
"The thing I connect with most about Wednesday: She knows who she is, and if other people think that's weird, that's no skin off her back," Dale said. "And she's not afraid to be dark or edgy and not the picture of a pretty young woman."
Lucas loves Wednesday no matter what, and that's how it should be, Dale went on. "Whoever you are, embrace it, love it, and people will love you for it."
That said, cast members agree there's another message "The Addams Family" shares with its audiences, which is that however altogether ooky we might be, we're really a lot more alike than different.
Fathers will nod as Gomez sings of his happiness at seeing his daughter happy while grieving the fact that she is grown and soon to be gone. Couples will glance at each other as Mal and Alice Beineke — and Gomez and Morticia as well — ponder whether their love has stood the test of time. And parents will share a wry smile as they watch Morticia and Alice turn their own lives inside out for the sake of their children.
The bottom line: "Family first," Sears said. "Always."
The family theme particularly resonates with the Keelings, all longtime Albany Civic Theater participants who are sharing the stage together for the first time.
Mirinda said the show has spurred great conversations with their son, Adam, about family values. And while actors can sometimes get frustrated with one another, she said, "You have to just leave it at the theater and not take it home."
"It's awesome," Dean said. "It's a really fun exercise, playing a family; it makes things go a lot smoother."