A secret in the house: a girl, a boy, a ring! Wednesday’s growing up— she’ll be Thursday before you know it! And she’s got herself a secret! His name Lucas Beineke and he comes from the “Normies.” Watch out, Addams family, there’s a whole lot of normal coming your way! In Part 5 of “Move Toward the Darkness” we sit down with MaryKate Brouillet and AJ Whittenberger to psychoanalyze the deep dark hole that is the love between Wednesday Addams and Lucas Beineke.
Let’s get an introduction to who you are and what of your work in the last year that audiences might recognize.
MaryKate Brouillet: I’m MaryKate Brouillet, I play Wednesday Addams. Before this I understudied Mary Poppins at Toby’s and I had the pleasure of getting to go on. Before that I did Pirates of Penzance, also a Mark Minnick directed show, and before that I did Shrek, both at Toby’s. Before that I played Louise in Gypsy at Riverside Dinner Theatre. Other Toby’s credits include Eponine in Les Miserables and Serena in Legally Blonde. That was another Mark Minnick production, and that was my first show returning to Toby’s so it was nice to start back with that.
AJ Whittenberger: Let’s see, I’ve been a part of six of the last eight Toby’s shows if you count the upcoming 1776 in that mix. The only one I missed was Memphis. I was doing Big Nate The Musical, the national tour with Adventure Theatre at the time. I understudied Carrie: The Musical at Studio Theatre while swinging in Pirates of Penzance. I worked in Philly a little bit at Bucks County Playhouse and Media Theatre. I actually did Mame with Andrea McArdle and Lea DeLaria at Bucks County in spring of 2013. I’ve got a lot of ensemble credits. This is my first big part at Toby’s, so that has been a lot of fun. I’ve done a lot of ensembles, understudies, covers, and swings, so this is really exciting.
MaryKate: We’ll both be appearing in 1776 together.
AJ: Yes we will be! I play Leather Apron, star of the show! She’s the Wife Jefferson.
Congratulations to you both. What was the appeal to come be a part of The Addams Family here at Toby’s?
MaryKate: Well I had never seen the show but I’d heard a little bit of the music before and Andrew Lippa is a musical genius. I definitely was interested.
AJ: For me? I love Toby’s, I love working there, so I was excited to come back. It all started about a year ago, actually. I didn’t know the show but Jeffrey (ensemble member Jeffrey Shankle) said “You Toby’s is doing Addams Family and you’d be perfect for this one part, you should look into it.” So I did look into it, I learned it, and sure enough they did call me in for it.
There’s a funny story actually. I couldn’t make it to the day of callbacks because I was on the tour. So I had a special callback at 10:45 at night on the one day we had off during the tour. I woke up at 6:00am in Savannah, Georgia that morning, drove all the way up here, did the audition and then shipped out the next morning to Maine. So I’m really happy that they worked me in. It was tough but it was cool. Auditioning for Mark (Director Mark Minnick) one-on-one is really tough because he plays all the other parts. And for my audition he was on stage doing it with me. He was being Wednesday. Mark has a perfect Wednesday.
You both said that you didn’t have a familiarity with the musical, but are you familiar with The Addams Family as a cultural icon?
MaryKate: Yeah, yeah. I watched the reruns growing up. I loved the movies.
AJ: I knew the “snap-snap” and Thing and It. And Gomez and Morticia. I remember watching the movies when I was young, I didn’t love them, but I am familiar with the characters.
Would you say Thing is very close to you?
AJ: Thing is very close to me now! In fact he’s right here. He goes with me everywhere.
MaryKate: For some people when they come to see the show it is very important to know that Thing is a part of the show. They get very excited.
AJ: Oh my tables are way more excited about the fact that I’m playing Thing over Lucas Beineke. I mean I guess it’s because if you don’t know the musical you have no idea who Lucas Beineke is. But Thing? Thing is an icon! I fit into that box and I think I was one of the only people available for the time slot. It’s actually funny because I have to run into that box. I finish my scene, run, strip off the coat, and literally hop in there. I’m stuck— no. I’m trapped. Larry (Gomez Addams, Lawrence B. Munsey) is singing that song to me. I am the one who is trapped. It’s funny because it wasn’t until after we opened that Priscilla (Morticia Addams, Priscilla Cuellar) even realized that I’m stuck on stage during “Trapped.” She told me she’d never even thought about it. I keep telling Darren (Mal Beineke, Darren McDonnell) that he needs to understudy me and do the Wednesday matinees so he can be in that box.
MaryKate: That box was custom made for Heather Beck during Shrek.
AJ: I think Amanda (ensemble member Amanda Kaplan) has been in that box too. Amanda, Heather, and I all need to sign the inside of that box somehow. Carve our names into it or something.
MaryKate: I had a patron quiz me once on who played Thing on the TV show. And he told me it was Lurch. Thing is apparently very, very important to people who know The Addams Family. So it’s great that we have him worked into this show.
AJ: I don’t think David (Lurch, David Bosley-Reynolds) will fit in that box. And I think after a while he’d start doing the Lurch noises. And you’d hear Thing with sound effects.
Do you guys have an Addams character that you feel speaks to you or that you really love?
MaryKate: Mine is definitely Wednesday. She’s a character that I sort of grew up with. I had a teacher in college one time tell me that it seemed that I enjoyed the darker things in life and kind of labeled me a “Goth” which is silly because I’m the farthest thing from it. But I definitely think she’s fascinating. I think the family is fascinating.
AJ: In the context of this show? It’s definitely Lucas, I mean that’s who I play and I like him and I think I do him well, which is why I think— or I hope— they cast me to play him. I don’t know that I really connect with the Addams Family per say but I definitely have a favorite, which is Fester. I think he’s hilarious. And I think our Fester does a great job. The part is so funny. Shawn (Uncle Fester, Shawn Kettering) does a really great job, can’t say that enough. And from the first time I ever saw him in rehearsal? He had the roller skating bit down. Spoiler alert— our Fester skates. But we had a roller skating bit in Big Nate and all the girl had to do was skate straight across the stage from one side to the other and she couldn’t do it, we had to cut it. They cut it opening night. So it was awesome to see Shawn rocking out on his skates so early on.
There is a crazy secret between the two of you in the show, a major plot point that drives the story. What is the dynamic of Lucas and Wednesday’s relationship, can you guys relate to it, what’s having that secret like for you two?
MaryKate: I think— maybe you should start this one.
AJ: Well I don’t know. I mean, obviously I’ve never had a secret this big from my parents. The stakes have never been this high for me. But I think it’s very relatable, not just to me but for a lot of people. I think they can really connect with Wednesday and Lucas’ story, the relationship where they’re worried if the parents will get along, or worried if the parents will accept the person they’ve fallen in love with. Definitely the fighting with the parents.
MaryKate: Wednesday and Lucas very obviously come from extremely different backgrounds. But their common ground is love. Wednesday, even though her family seems insane, she comes from a very loving family. I think she meets Lucas and he’s this odd guy, and she’s definitely odd—
AJ: We’re opposite.
MaryKate: They are. They’re opposites. But they complement one another. I remember you saying something about Wednesday being the leader and I think that’s definitely true. Wednesday helps Lucas discover himself and find his independence so he can stand his ground against his father.
AJ: I have definitely been in relationships like that. Wednesday and Lucas help each other. They bring their extremes together so they can figure it out.
MaryKate: Wednesday wants Lucas to be honest and she finally takes his advice at the end of the first act and you know how it goes from there.
Now, MaryKate, your character is pretty impulsive, and AJ, your character is not. What is the most impulsive thing you guys have ever done?
AJ: I’m not impulsive.
MaryKate: Oh wow. I have been pretty impulsive.
AJ: Skinny dipping in oceans?
MaryKate: Um…when I lived in LA I went to the pound and adopted a puppy on the spot. I wasn’t planning on taking anything home with me, but I brought home a puppy. That was pretty impulsive.
This show has a great deal of dancing in it, but you two don’t do so much of it, what’s that like?
AJ: Oh, I definitely dance. This is the first time where I’ve not been in a dance track. It’s really interesting for me to actually leave the show and not be drenched in sweat. Spamalot and Shrek those were huge dance shows. Poppins too.
MaryKate: A lot of dancing in Poppins. I was so happy to be a part of “Step in Time” that number was great.
AJ: I love “Step in Time.” I was a swing for that show and I went in for five different tracks in “Step in Time.” I went on for every male part that I covered except for Ari. (ensemble member Ariel Messeca.) Believe me I was fine with him not missing a show, five different tracks was enough. And I did that with zero put-ins. That was right when I got back from tour, so I only had the one rehearsal. I watched the understudy DVD on my phone, trying to pick out which chimney sweep was who, it was a little bit of a nightmare. But I don’t have any of that in Addams. Lucas is not dancey. So it’s very cool to come off of the crazy dance-intensive Poppins into something more relaxing.
MaryKate: For me it’s all fun dances in this show. I really only dance in the opening but I love the opening number.
AJ: It definitely sets the tone.
MaryKate: It sets the tone and you’re introduced to every character. And I get to have a dance solo with the ancestors. I love it when they all come out through the gate. They all look so beautiful and their costumes are so detailed and amazing. And then we get to do this crazy fun dance together and I love it!
AJ: I’ve never done a show where I’ve danced less than I do in this show. I’m not used to it at all. I wish I could be in the Tango and the opening number, but besides that it’s nice to every now and then get to say some lines and sing some songs in exchange for all that dancing. You know that’s another thing that I’m sort of not used to? Those times back stage when there are only three or four of us back there because everyone else is on stage dancing. Normally I’d be out there but now I’m hanging out backstage and it’s just me, David (Grandma Addams, David James) and DBR (Lurch, David Bosley-Reynolds) just chilling back there. And I actually kind of love it.
Is there a moment that defines the show for you?
AJ: “Crazier Than You” and it’s reprise when the four of us are out there. Hands down, when we’re about to run out through the curtain to do that part? That’s when I’m the most amped up and excited. I love that part. There is an energy spike and you feel it.
MaryKate: That’s one of the moments for me too. I love singing “Crazier Than You” with AJ. And with Darren and Beth (Alice Beineke, Elizabeth Rayca.) Every night I watch through the curtain when they sing their part.
AJ: I’m wiping off lipstick and watching through the curtain when they do their half of that song. Amanda is back there helping me but all I want to do is watch them.
MaryKate: It definitely amps me up to run out there and finish the song.
AJ: And it really helps because MaryKate is such a good friend of mine, so having that friendship makes it even more fun.
MaryKate: We do have fun. We have a little bit of a back story with that number. It’s so silly, but after we exit the first time, after I shoot the apple off his head? We come running back in after Darren and Beth do their bit and he has his tie around his neck and I said to him “AJ, it totally looks like we were being naughty in the woods.”
AJ: I’ve still got lipstick on me. And I always undo one more button too. I don’t know if people notice? But my tie is all undone and my shirt’s untucked. We just had that big kiss and ran off so that’s kind of the moment.
MaryKate: That’s the moment our runaway marriage becomes real real.
What is your favorite number?
MaryKate: There’s definitely an arc with Wednesday. I think “Crazier Than You” is that true moment of blossoming for her. She kind of just lets it all go. After the scene with Gomez she understands that it’s ok to be happy and sad. That’s where she really finds her courage. I love that. But I also love the dinner scene because I love to be a part of “Waiting.” Just getting to watch Beth do that every night and hearing the reactions, it’s priceless.
AJ: Yeah she kills it every night.
MaryKate: She just is Alice. I remember she came into the Alice callback in stilettos but with her big toe in a cast. She couldn’t walk and I knew right then she was going to be the perfect Alice, and she’s going to kill me for telling you this. But she’s in her yellow dress and sneakers backstage doing squats around the theatre and I just point to her and say “That’s Alice.”
AJ: She always brings in nice treats for us though.
MaryKate: Yes she does. We love people who brings us treats.
AJ: You know the moment that defines the show for me isn’t “Crazier Than You” it’s “Crazier Than You, Reprise.” The second we run out and that line “I’m going to treasure you in death as well as life,” that line is just it. And we just had sex in the woods. And you know, even though I’m not in it, I really like the moment before that with Wednesday and Gomez, when they do “Happy/Sad.” I watch that from backstage. That scene is really touching.
MaryKate: Larry does such a fantastic job with that number. There aren’t many moments like that in the show. And I kind of feel like I’m being this huge brat for the majority of the show, so it’s nice to see Wednesday have a tender side with her father. She doesn’t mean to act that way.
It is very apparent that Wednesday has a favorite parent in this show, is that true for you in real life?
MaryKate: Wednesday is definitely a daddy’s girl. In real life? Not so much for me. I can be a daddy’s girl but I’m very close to my mom. I’m good with both of my parents. I love them both. I am a little similar to Wednesday though because she has that close mother daughter bond, Morticia even says that her daughter tells her everything. But Wednesday definitely has her dad wrapped around her little finger.
What about you, AJ, favorite parent?
AJ: I think that it plays a perfect parallel from the show to my real life. In real life I’m very close with both my parents and I think Lucas is too. But I’m a little closer with my mom, and at home I’m the only boy, so the “dad’s only son” thing is happening. The mother gives you the love and the father gives you the coaching. That’s how it is in the show and that’s very similar in my real life.
MaryKate: I’m also the only daughter and the eldest child, so I know what it’s like when Wednesday gives that line to her father. I have a little brother and a little sister, but my brother and I are kind of like Wednesday and Pugsley. I did torture him. I mean he’s four years younger than me so we definitely had our fights growing up. But at the same time I think he looked up to me the way that Pugsley looks up to Lucas. I love being a big sister, I love being the oldest. That comes very easily to me working with both Gavin and Jace (Pugsley Addams, Gavin Willard and Jace Franco.)
There is the big, beautiful number toward the end, “Move Toward the Darkness.” What does that number mean to you as a performer?
MaryKate: Lurch sets the scene for that and he kind of puts it perfectly. It’s kind of funny, but he says “Love what once was vile.” I think that that’s life. That relates to so many things. Move toward the darkness and smile.
AJ: For me it means to embrace what’s coming. Embrace the good. Embrace the bad. Be ready for it, you know? Take the good with the bad and get through.
MaryKate: Different lines in that song speak differently to each of us. I find that fascinating. I love talking to other actors who have played the same role just to see what speaks to them.
Why should people come and see this production of The Addams Family at Toby’s?
AJ: Mark Minnick.
MaryKate: There is no better answer.
AJ: He’s the best. The passion and the professionalism that he puts into this inspires everyone all the way down. It is the best working for him. He works you so hard. He’ll make fun of you, he’ll drill you, he’ll beat it out of you, but there is nothing more rewarding than when after an opening night he taps you on the shoulder and gives you a thumbs up.
MaryKate: I absolutely second that.
AJ: What he brings to this show? No one else can bring that to this show. It’s creative and fresh.
MaryKate: The hard work pays off. He works hard and we work hard.
AJ: He gets everyone to do their best. He just brings out everyone’s best.
MaryKate: He is such a good motivator. He gets performances out of you that you had no idea you could give. The great thing about Mark is at the end of the day he really wants us all to just be people and be real. He helps you to find yourself in the character. He helps you be real in that character. I remember him telling me a lot to just be MaryKate when working on Wednesday.
I think it’s really great that the audiences are coming and having a great time. You can hear the audience going off at certain parts— like when Darren starts dancing when he finally lets loose. They always seem to go wild then, especially tables full of ladies. It’s really cool getting to hear people loving this show. We all love doing this show so much.
Alright! It’s time to play…Full Disclosure!! We need a Full Disclosure from Lucas and Wednesday and then from AJ and MaryKate.
MaryKate: Oh. That is a tough one.
AJ: I have no idea. I think with Lucas one thing I was torn about— though I don’t really know if this is a full disclosure— but the way I play the role, and I’ve never seen anyone else do this part, but I think that Lucas loves the Addams Family. The way I play it is that when they all make their entrances and introductions he just loves each and every one of them. He loves the whole family. Lucas enjoys his time there the whole way through.
Now my full disclosure…the only thing I can think of, it’s kind of embarrassing but it’s nothing big like a marriage or anything. When people text me things…this is kind of girlish…but when people text me things that I like? I save them and I read them later. I just had that happen to me so it was fresh on my mind. Full Disclosure. But only sometimes. If they’re special.
MaryKate: Man. Now I’ve got to really think about mine. I think Wednesday is secretly an animal lover. Even though she shoots dinner at the petting zoo. But she does that because she doesn’t agree with zoos. Heather (ensemble member Heather Beck) who plays the Indian ancestor, she and I kind of joke that Wednesday is the Indian reincarnate because Wednesday is a huntress.
For me, um, oh my God. See, yours was cute, AJ, I don’t have anything that’s cute. I definitely have some darkness. But these things never come to me on the spot. I’m obsessed with murder mysteries.
AJ: Oh my gosh, you are!
MaryKate: When I lived in LA I had a fascination with The Black Dahlia. I lived in a bungalow near some old Hollywood Studios. It was rumored that a murder had taken place there and I was fascinated with it. My roommate and I would research a lot of famous murder mysteries that had happened in the area and try to solve them. We would go on creepy tours trying to learn more about them. Full Disclosure. Also, my socks never match.
AJ: Yeah I’m bad with that. Socks matching requires folding them.
MaryKate: Folding them, finding them. No sock matching for this secretly married duo.
To read the TheatreBloom review of The Addams Family, click here.