Community theatre program features UIndy music student in show ‘The Addams Family’

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They’re creepy and they’re cooky, mysterious and spooky, and since 2009, “The Addams Family” musical has toured in Chicago, Tokyo,  Mexico and on Broadway. Recently, presented by Footlite Musicals community theatre program for three consecutive weekends, “The Addams Family,” featured University of Indianapolis junior general music major Ivy Bott as Wednesday Addams. “The Addams Family” was directed by Ed Trout and performed at Hedback Theater located at 1847 N. Alabama Street in Indianapolis.

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Ivy Bott, as Wednesday Addams, holds Joseph Massingale, as Lucas Beineke, captive from other girls. Photo contributed by Gary Nelson

Bott’s character, Wednesday,  is 18 years old, and she has met a boy named Lucas Beineke. They have fallen in love with each other. Lucas is the epitome of a normal guy who has his quirks but comes from an extremely normal family. He and his family are not used to the Addams family, but he is taken by Wednesday and is attracted to her weirdness.

“The Addams Family” story is all about how they make it work and how their parents make it work aside from their reactions to their children’s relationship. In the end, the moral of the story is that there is no such thing as normal.

Bott said that as a music major,  each student is required to take private lessons with a faculty member in the music department who teaches that student’s instrument. Bott’s private voice instructor is Assistant Professor of Music Mitzi Westra. Westra had been working closely with Bott to improve her vocal technique for her role as Wednesday, in order to save her voice for years to come.

“The belting technique that I’m teaching is actually classically oriented. It’s like, ‘How can we make you sound like a belter while you’re using the classical technique?’ Now that she’s doing that [the belting technique] more often, all she really has to do is play with her vowels a little bit and take some of the vibrato out, and it sounds like belting,” Westra said. “You can fool people into thinking it’s belting while you’re making a very healthy sound.”

Working in Westra’s studio has helped Bott improve her vocal technique for her musical role as Wednesday and for future musical roles.

“She’s really been working with me on creating a healthy sound. And I know for this musical, that is very much so the opposite of what they [directors] wanted,” Bott said. “She has taught me how to create that sound, and I also know how not to blow my voice out doing the unhealthy sound.”

Bott’s musical theatre career began when she was in eighth grade playing as Mrs. Potts in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast Jr.”

“That was really the experience that set me up to continue in [musical theatre]. It’s where I learned that it was something I really enjoyed,” Bott said.

Wednesday Addams has been Bott’s dream role since the day she received news of the creation of  “The Addams Family.”

“It’s always the current project, but Wednesday Addams will always be my favorite [role] for a long time, because she’s been a dream role since [my] sophomore year of high school. Since the musical came out, I’ve been obsessed with wanting to be Wednesday Addams,” Bott said. “This experience has been special, and so I think she’ll be a favorite for a long time.

According to Bott, the most emotional parts of the musical come about more during the rehearsal than the performance, because she tends to get too intense on stage. She tries to balance out the really intense moments between rehearsals, so that during performances, she has more control over balancing her emotion and control over what she is doing.

Leaving the stage when the curtain is drawn, Bott finds some of the most memorable moments of her performances when she meets the audience members.

“I had a really special experience this time, being able to go out in costume. A lot of the little girls in the audience can relate to Wednesday, which sounds kind of strange considering her character, but it’s really cool to have little girls come up to you and say, ‘Hey, you were my favorite person! I love Wednesday, [and] I’m going to go as Wednesday for Halloween,’” Bott said.

“There was one girl in particular….  She has this passion for musical theatre, and she just connects with musical theatre on a deep level. You can just see it in her eyes. She’s come to at least three of the performances, and every time after the show, she’ll come and give me this huge hug, and it’s so special.”

Aside from being a part of “The Addams Family Musical,” Bott is active in UIndy’s Concert Choir and select courses that are major-specific. She’s been involved with UIndy’s vocal jazz ensemble Crimson Express directed by Professor of Music Peter Schmutte and the Jazz Combo in years past.

“Working in ensembles has taught me how to be respectful of the conductor and the music director,” Bott said. “Being in ensembles has also taught me how to rehearse ensemble music  and how to be ready for rehearsals. It can be challenging during rehearsals, when there are members who don’t study their music outside of rehearsal.”

Westra said she expects her students to show up, be on time and possess integrity during their time in class, just as any other professor in any other department would expect of their students.

Bott’s experience as Wednesday and meeting with audience members has offered her inspiration for her other shows.

“She [the girl mentioned before] is the type of person who makes it worth it. The first time she came up to me, it was a really good reminder that it’s not always about perfection. It’s about getting an emotional response from the audience by inspiring someone. It’s good to have a reminder, because as a perfectionist, I can tend to forget that.”

Upcoming events by Footlite Musicals community theatre program include “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” beginning in November and running through December; “Little Shop of Horrors,” during the month of January; “Anything Goes,” during the month of March; and “Dreamgirls,” during the month of May.

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