“Darling, I always wear black!” Designing costumes for “The Addams Family – A New Musical”

We are so thrilled with the design work that Hayley O’Brien, our Associate Costume Designer and Construction Coordinator, has sketched, sewn and built to make the characters in The Addams Family – A New Musical come to life. Hear from her about her particular design process for this spooky show!

What makes “The Addams Family – A New Musical” different from designs you’ve done in the past?

Designing The Addams Family is very, very different from previous shows I’ve done! This show is very unique since it is so dark, visually and in terms of comedy. Every member of the Addams family is traditionally dressed in dark tones, yet the humor and personality of each character is very playful and quirky, even light–as they joke about death! 

What creative inspiration did you draw from to make these designs?

During the design process the director and I really wanted to stay true to the iconic silhouettes of the original Addams family as our pop culture knows them. I referenced the illustrations of Charles Addams along with the 1964 TV show and, of course, the 1991 and 1993 films. For the Beineke family, I was mainly inspired by the classic 1950’s “All-American” family to create a distinct visual contrast between the two households that highlights their differing behaviors and tastes as well. In regards to the ancestors, I enjoyed looking through history with a costuming lens and focusing on time periods and silhouettes that would be distinct from one another and also plenty of movement for our actors to dance in.

What was rewarding about designing this show? What was challenging?

It was very rewarding to design this show with the production team and work with all actors, especially since this was the first show of the season I designed with our new Resident Actors. It was amazing watching our talented actors come in for fittings, put them in costume, then see how excited they were to transform into these characters. I really love this show, and it has been so rewarding to see it come to life and share the excitement with the rest of our cast, crew, and production team. 

The most challenging part was figuring out all the makeup for the show. Makeup and wigs are essential to creating these characters. And there’s a wide range: from spooky, glamorous makeup and a long black wig for Morticia to bald caps and full-head makeup coverage for Fester to turning a whole ensemble of actors into ghosts that are in head-to-toe grayscale! However, I found a lot of joy in this challenge of problem-solving and exploring all the possibilities!

What are you eager for audiences to see and notice in your designs when they come to the show?

I make many references to the original Addams Family that longtime fans of the characters will recognize. My interpretation infused a new variation to an old love. I am also eager to introduce the audience to a whole new group of characters: the Beineke family. The Addams are very dark and textural, while the Beinekes are brighter with pops of color. On top of that, there is an ensemble of dead, ghostly ancestors! Overall, I hope our audiences notice the fine details in every costume and enjoy this kooky group of characters!

(Left to right) Costume Designer Hayley O’Brien’s rendering of Gomez and Resident Actor Cedar Valdez as Gomez.

(Left to right) Costume Designer Hayley O’Brien’s rendering of Morticia and Resident Actor Eliza Knode as Morticia.

(Left to right) Costume Designer Hayley O’Brien’s rendering of Wednesday and Resident Actor Jenna Barricklo as Wednesday.

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