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Addams Family School Play Banned for Promoting Death and Despair

A school board in Pennsylvania reportedly banned performances of The Addams Family musical, claiming the play promotes death and despair.

As reported by Newsweek, the Northern Lebanon School District’s board voted 7-2 in favor of scrapping performances of the musical that were originally scheduled for 2024. During a 30-minute debate prior to the vote, board president Barry Naum argued that while he personally found The Addams Family entertaining, it contains subject matter inappropriate for a school production. “I know that I would enjoy seeing this play in a community theater or some other context,” Naum reportedly said. “But when it comes down to it, we are not a community theater. We are a school.” Content in The Addams Family musical that Northern Lebanon School District board members objected to included violence and self-harm, underage smoking, and themes of “darkness, embracing death, embracing despair [and] embracing the pain.”

The Addams Family musical debuted on broadway in 2010. Written and composed by Andrew Lippa and inspired by characters created by Charles Addams, its cast included Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth as Gomez and Morticia Addams, respectively. It is one of several high-profile projects based on Charles Addams’ creation, including the 2019 animated feature The Addams Family and its 2021 sequel The Addams Family 2, and the live-action Netflix series Wednesday. Of these adaptations, Wednesday has proven the most popular, with Netflix recently renewing the coming-of-age comedy-horror show for a second season.

Jenna Ortega Discusses Wednesday’s Scripts
A key part of Wednesday’s appeal lies in Jenna Ortega’s portrayal of the show’s titular protagonist, which garnered rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. Ortega opened up about her performance in a recent interview, revealing that she often reworked aspects of Wednesday’s scripts to better reflect her interpretation of the Wednesday character. “I had to go, ‘No, there’s no way [Wednesday would say that],'” she said. “There were times on that set where I even became almost unprofessional in a sense and I just started changing lines.”

It wasn’t just critics and fans who approved of Ortega’s portrayal of Wednesday, either. One of her predecessors in the role, Christina Ricci, gave Ortega the thumbs up, too. Ricci, who played Wednesday in 1991’s The Addams Family and its 1993 follow-up The Addams Family Values, described Ortega’s Wednesday as “a great modern take” on the iconic character. Ricci acts opposite Ortega in the Netflix series, filling the part of Nevermore Academy teacher Marilyn Thornhill.


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