Desert Star Playhouse in Murray may not be on the radar of recent Utah transplants, like myself. However, I was delighted to get the assignment to visit and write about their current play, The Addams Family: Wednezday’s Haunted Mansion, written by Ben E. Millet and updated by Brooklynn and Matt Kohler.
We went on a Thursday night. The first thing we noticed were the hallways decked out in fun western decor, and we were greeted by a friendly staff member who made a joke about seeing the Addams Family on a Thursday. We shared a chuckle.
We sat down wondering what to expect next. The theater was filled with older couples and families with children. The menu formatted as a newspaper appealed to my profession as a writer and featured mostly American cuisine. The prices were reasonable, and we were delighted to receive free popcorn.
My date decided to order the Outlaw Burger, a juicy ⅓ lb choice beef patty topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, tomato, lettuce and onion, with smoky BBQ sauce for $12.99. I craved something spicy, so the medium 12-inch pizza with jalapenos and pepperoni was perfect at $14.99. There were many fun cocktails to choose from, such as a “Tipsy Root Beer Float” or a “Fuzzy Navel” priced at eight dollars and six dollars respectively.
The show was interactive from the start. The piano player had us sing You Are My Sunshine. Then the lights went completely out and the whole audience began booing. During the entire show the audience would boo every time someone cackled or the lights turned off. Each time one of the actors sang the phrase, ‘The Addams Family’, the audience would follow with two snaps. That made me curious about the history of the two snaps. The Addams Family has an interesting historical backstory. The “two snaps” are a direct reference to The Addams Family theme, first created for the 1964 TV show by longtime Hollywood composer Vic Mizzy.
The Addams Family began as a single-panel cartoon in The New Yorker, where cartoonist Charles Addams earned the “large” sum of eighty five dollars.
Addams, who was born in 1912, grew up in Westfield, New Jersey. Considering the content of his cartoons, one could assume that he had a troubled childhood, but nothing could be further from the truth.
The Addams Family didn’t become a TV Show until September 18, 1964, when it aired on ABC. Based on its success, The Addams Family franchise continued to grow in popularity, and quickly gained a large cult following.
The Desert Star has its own rendition of The Addams Family, including multiple Taylor Swift references, and the character “Wednezday” describing Provo as a place where people go to die. In this version, Wednezday returns from school and falls in love with the UPS man who keeps coming to her house to deliver packages.
So, what is the twist of the story? The real identity of the UPS man. He is actually Ashley Measley IV, whose mother, Mrs. Measley, sent him to spy on the Addams Family. The Addams’ house is sitting on an oil reserve, so acquiring the house would considerably increase Mrs. Measly’s fortune. I will not reveal the ending. You need to see it for yourself. No spoilers here!
After the play had ended, the actor who played Groncho Adams came out and shouted out people’s anniversaries and birthdays. Two couples in the audience were celebrating anniversaries. One couple has been married for 64 years and the other for 50 years. After that, all couples were invited to stand and dance, which everyone enjoyed.
Needless to say, as this was my first experience at The Desert Star, I did not know what to expect, but I thoroughly enjoyed the ridiculous jokes, dancing with a loved one, and of course, the free popcorn. I recommend it as a great family activity or a fun date night this Halloween season.
Featured image by Alegra Zuchowicz of Desert Star Playhouse on State Street in Murray.