The Addams Family is HR Approved!

Photo courtesy of Facebook

Guest Blog by James Galluzzo, SPHR

Someone should really speak to the Human Resources Department in this place! Have you seen the outfit that Morticia is wearing? I am sure it is not in line with our dress code policy.  And while we are at it, I hope someone talks with Gomez about his choice of humor; he may need to attend sensitivity training.  Both Pugsley and Wednesday need to be reminded of the workplace violence prevention policies and that they are not allowed to bring torture weapons or explosives to work. I am absolutely positive that Fester is having an inappropriate relationship with a co-worker, but he claims they’re not actually dating. In fact, every single person in this organization: living, dead (and undecided) is probably breaking some rule or regulation in one way or another!! But wait ~ HR actually approves of this?

Why, YES! Yes, it is true that with any company these types of problems would keep any HR Director busy all day and probably pulling their hair out. But when you are talking about the fantastic musical theater production, The Addams Family, these are just fun parts of the plot. What is even better is that each of these characters, and the rest of the ensemble, are wonderfully quirky and a delight to watch on stage. None of this happens by accident, it only happens when you have a remarkable team come together to deliver a quality performance.

I have spent most of my adult life working as an HR professional; first in the military, and now for a state agency. Human Resources is an important function for any organization because people are the most valuable treasure in that organization. I had a boss that said “Love Thy Treasure” and he meant take care of your people. But HR is challenging as I am sure you can imagine. People have lives. They have problems and concerns and it often falls to HR to help. So there is a great deal of responsibility to work here. Sometimes such responsibility wears even the most positive, cheery, optimistic person thin and they need a break or refuge. Theater is mine.

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Photo courtesy of Facebook. James (R) hanging out with some of his fellow ancestors backstage.

My first theatre role was as Michael in Peter Pan, complete with the footy pajamas, more than 30 years ago. I fell in love with being on stage and performing. For me, having the chance to entertain an audience and see immediate reaction just charges the batteries! As I traveled and moved in the military, small community theatre shows were my hobby and I enjoyed every opportunity to act, especially for my fellow Soldiers. When my family moved to Columbia and I was planning to retire from active duty, I was so excited to find such a vibrant theatre community in the area. The reputation for Town Theatre to produce quality family-oriented shows that celebrate both the familiar traditional shows and the new genre fresh from Broadway and the Touring companies was certainly a draw for me.

I have now had the privilege to be in three of Town’s shows: Disney’s Tarzan, Singin’ in The Rain, and now The Addams Family.  Each one has been a fabulous experience.  But The Addams Family has been truly special. For one, I joined the cast late as a replacement. From the very first rehearsal I was warmly received and it felt like I had been part of this group all along. When you spend hours each day over several weeks, you become a tight knit group.  Each dance rehearsal we could see each musical number coming alive (or at least un-dead) and you can’t help but want to sing the songs. As this show came together you find yourself laughing at the laugh lines and jokes, as with any comedy show. However, what was different was you still have folks laughing days and weeks later even after hearing the same line numerous times. Not because the writing is so clever, but because the delivery and adaptation of the characters by these actors is so well done.

I guess this is the point from an HR professional’s perspective. It’s about the people. The cast and crew and leadership are what you want in your organization. They are caring, generous, capable, professional and serious about their craft. This group of volunteers give of themselves for others to have an enjoyable, memorable experience. I am proud and honored to be part of this team. So much so, that I have actively encouraged my day job office mates to come check out the show. It’s doubly satisfying to entertain one group of colleagues by singing and dancing on stage with another and give both groups some insight into this HR Director’s personality.

If your company was fortunate enough to have the kind of talent that is behind The Addams Family at Town Theatre, it would likely be one of the companies that are featured as “Best Place to Work.” It’s a great chance to have a night out with your co-workers. It makes for some fun conversations around the water cooler on Monday. So, consider it a team building exercise highly recommended by HR.

When You’re an Addams

Dori (R) with friend Tassie Collins. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Guest blog by Dori Rueger

When I found out that Town Theatre was going to be doing The Addams Family, I knew I had to audition! Creepy and kooky were two things right up my alley.  I actually walked in to audition for Pugsley Addams.  Yep, I wanted to be the Addams’ son. (I didn’t think I would actually get it, but I needed to try for me.) So, on January 17, 2016, I drove to Town Theatre for auditions. I was extremely nervous.  I had some friends with me — Tassie Collins and Danny Niati — they were my rocks for this audition. They kept me calm and even helped me with the dance routine. (And — it is so cool that they are sharing this show with me on stage!) Finding out I was cast was an even bigger moment for me. I was actually seeing a show when I felt my phone buzz. I was so excited that I wanted to tell everyone, but since the cast list wasn’t posted, I had to wait.  It was an excruciating few days to say the least. When I could share the news, I shouted it from the mountain top. I had people telling me how excited they were and how they all wanted to come and support me. It was an amazing feeling. My journey had started.

I rehearsed more than I ever had ever rehearsed before. It made me smile every time I saw the people with whom I was going to share the stage get more into their own characters. With every line dance and bunny hop, we moved closer to an amazing show.  Even with all of this practice, I was still terrified. I hadn’t been in a production since I was in high school. Would I mess up or fall on my face? Would I forget where to stand or how to move? Opening night was fast approaching.

My heart was pounding as I waited for the crypt doors to open and make my way onto the stage.  As I walked out, the lights were so bright! In a flash, the opening number was done.  It was the most amazing feeling in the world.  Not being on stage — not the rush of performing.  That feeling that was lifting me up was the support I had received from my cast mates — their pats on the back, their nods of encouragement.  The cast of this show truly has become a second family to me.  Every person started as an individual, but has come together to make this show something of which we are all very proud.

I am proud to say that I am a part of such an amazing cast and crew. I am proud to have been given the opportunity to perform and to be seen. I am proud that people have put their trust in me and support me.  I’m also proud to say that you… yes you… you need to follow your dreams. You need to get out there and do what makes you happy.  You need to try new things. If it doesn’t work out the first time, don’t give up. No one should ever have to ask, “what if?”

So as we launch into our third week of shows, I can only tell you how much I am enjoying being an Addams. And I know you will enjoy seeing us too! Snap snap!

Dori (R) as a Medieval Maiden. Photo courtesy of William Refo.


On Being a Dad Who Appreciates Applause

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Courtesy of Facebook

Guest blog by Clayton King

I’m relatively new to Columbia theatre, but not new to Columbia – at least not anymore. Having called our state capitol home for almost seven years now, I’ve seen productions at pretty much every theatre in town. You might say I’m a rabid theatre goer, or more specifically, I was until I once again found my roots and got back on the stage a year ago.

As a child growing up on the Texas Gulf Coast on a little island called Galveston, I enjoyed performing. I was blessed to have grown up in a musical family and blessed with a musical prodigy for a mother. A love of music and theatre was instilled in me, literally from birth. In elementary school I was a ham; in high school, I decided I wanted to perform for a living. In college I pursued that objective. Then life took me in a different direction and I was absent from the stage for over three decades. While I made it a habit to see live theatre as often as possible, I realized the spotlight wasn’t what I missed. It was the people…

I don’t have children of my own, but having been past the 50-year mile stone for a few years, I look back and realize the role of Gomez is not my first stint at being a dad on stage. I had a couple of stints in college and one or two paid gigs where I explored the idea of fatherhood. But it is the first time I’ve understood being the head of the family-in this case, The Addams Family. What I’ve come to understand, though, is that only now do I have the years under my belt to better understand what that means.

I’ve joked about reading in the Town Theatre Newsletter, The Intermission, the write up about the show, and seeing the words “at the helm is Clayton King.” When I expressed my shock at reading those words, I received a message from the theatre apologizing if I was offended. My quick assurances were that, quite to the contrary, I was humbled. Humbled and a little bit afraid, actually. I’m the father – the head of the household and my brain generally doesn’t work that way. I think in terms of the group – the people, the show, the whole effort.

So why does any of this matter?

Well, anyone who performs in any capacity will tell you applause is gratifying. Those same performers would be lying if they said applause doesn’t matter – it does. But the applause is affirmation of a production, and productions require hard work from everyone involved – the production family.

As a business owner and active church singer, I’ve been asked during the last year how (or why) I devote so much time and energy to theatre. On the assumption my outgoing personality seeks attention, most believe it is because I seek the limelight. While that is partially correct, it doesn’t begin to cover it all.

Theatre is a collaboration of an amazing order. Yes, performers must memorize lines and learn songs, and find ways to naturally bridge the two. But there are many people who work together to make the magic of theatre happen.

Gomez and Morticia tango. Photo credit: Helen Hood Porth.

There are those people in black – the crew – who make scenery appear and disappear. Generally speaking, there are far fewer of them than cast members, so their work is exponentially harder! There are musicians and musical directors who must learn the entire score and work with individual cast members and the entire company to learn and fine tune the work. Costumers are tasked with creating the very clothes we wear, and helping performers bring their characters to life. There are scenic designers who construct sets, and sometimes rebuild sets, to accommodate specific needs in the show. Lighting designers develop and enhance a production look by (literally) casting it in a certain light. And, ultimately, the director of a show leads everyone in a single direction to accomplish the goal of a successful show. This poor soul actually has to be the bridge between actors, producers, administrators, and more to bring forth a specific vision. Harmony is the best word I can think of to describe that goal.

So yes, I’m currently the father, at the helm of The Addams family. I am privileged to share the stage with some amazingly talented people. I walk on sets and under lights that compliment what I’m doing. To be honest, I’m surrounded by people who make me look good. And hopefully, I am able to respond in kind. But ultimately, for me at least, it’s the collaboration and the sense of accomplishment where my satisfaction is derived. It’s the discipline of rehearsing for months. It’s the joy of having struggled with a line or a lyric and then getting a high-five from a cast mate when you conquer the challenge.  And most of all, it’s the sense of family. Let’s be real for a moment; when you spend two or three months with a group of people, you’re family. You fight, you laugh, you hug, you cry, then, usually, you laugh again and bask in the satisfaction of knowing you all made it through to opening night.

The Addams Family has been this kind of experience for me. I am thankful my Town Theatre debut was one where I got to be the dad. And if audiences are moved to applaud, that’s all the better.