Music Theatre 101: Addams Family brings down the curtain

When the cast and crew of The Addams Family performed their creepy, kooky and joyous show this afternoon they marked their 101st performance at the Capitol Theatre Sydney (congratulations, all), their 102nd performance tonight will also be their final one (commiserations, all).

The Addams Family, Original Australian Cast. Image by Jeff Busby
The Addams Family, Original Australian Cast. Image by Jeff Busby

After opening in March 2013, this production, which should have guaranteed at least 12 months of solid work for more than 100 cast and crew, has prematurely closed. And it’s a damn shame. It’s a shame because it was an Australian premiere, and it’s wonderful for Australian performers  to have the opportunity to perform a role for the first time in their country. It’s a shame because each and every person working on that production was putting their heart and soul into the show, night after night, and they should have had the chance to do it for much longer. It’s a shame, because, any way you look at it, the reality is that a large group of people from one industry are losing their jobs today.

It’s a reality that is (unfortunately) just ‘the nature of the business’,  and actors, performers, stage managers, company managers, technicians, dressers, wardrobe masters are affected by issues like this all the time… but the rest of the world doesn’t seem to notice. I read a letter published in the Sydney Morning Herald this week, written by Guy Noble (conductor, musician and husband to Meredith O’Reilly who starred as Grandma in The Addams Family) which touched on this very issue. He referenced the government’s $55 million retraining package for the now out-of-work Ford employees and drew a humourous parallel with the closure of the Ford Factory and the closure of the ‘musical factory’ – both sets of employees will be thrust into unemployment, looking for work in a tough industry.

“So far I have not seen the Prime Minister handing out retraining packages at the stage door or promising millions to soften the blow. Nor was the government there when An Officer and a Gentleman closed last year losing millions, when Rock of Ages failed to play its Sydney season, when Man of La Mancha closed early, or when Sunset Boulevard in Melbourne, Gypsy in Sydney and many other shows have not been able to sell their product. Just like Ford.

Written by Guy Noble, published in the Sydney Morning Herald

The Addams Family should have been a commercial success. It should have toured to Melbourne, to Brisbane, to Perth, to Adelaide… to New Zealand. It had the budget, the marketing, and the cast to end all casts. It just didn’t sell – like the Fords. Is it a product of the economic climate? Or do people just not want Addams/Fords at the moment? Whatever the reason, sadly, theatre folk are used to it, though, that’s the way it goes. It’s not a new phenomenon. Shows have opened and closed in this fashion forever. We enter into the industry knowing that we skate on this ice with employment in practically every job. Sometimes we win, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we run for years, sometimes we close. So, in the spirit of good humoured goodbyes, the cast and crew of The Addams Family have put together this gorgeous video to say so long and farewell to the Capitol Theatre and to Australian audiences as only showfolk can: with tongue planted firmly in cheek and a whole lotta spunk.

To all my friends in the cast and crew – I can’t wait to see you strutting your stuff in the next one! Chin up, and have a rocking party!


Erin James

Erin James is's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

3 thoughts on “Music Theatre 101: Addams Family brings down the curtain

  • Very very well written Erin. Such a sad turn of events with so many very talented people affected. Chookas to everyone for their next projects and hopefully they won’t have to wait too long. LOVE the little bit of video satire!

  • Erin one of the major problems is Sydney’s lack of theaters. This show should have played The Royal or opened in Melbourne first. It never had a hope of filling the oversized barn of a theatre that is the capitol. Having seen the show on both Broadway, US tour and a three times in Sydney, it was a fun night in the theatre.

  • The difference is, that most of those that affected by the pink slips at Ford have got many many months, to two to three years notice before they pack their bags. Sadly, many in the theatre industry will learn of their employment overnight, and often times through a related chat or blog site, rather than from the producer’s mouth.

Comments are closed.