Everyone’s favourite kooky family are coming back to the stage in The Addams Family, a spectacular musical comedy from the writers of multi award-winning hit musical Jersey Boys, with music and lyrics by TONY AWARD nominated Andrew Lippa.
I had the honour of being able to chat with Kara Lane, who plays Alice Beineke in the show. With a lovely Australian accent and a great sense of humour, I wanted to find out more about The Addams Family musical coming to The Alexandra Theatre this week and her experiences as a performer.
I’m so excited about the show! I’ve have seen the TV show and the movies but the musical is new to me. Tell me more about The Addams Family and what can the Birmingham audience expect from the show?
It’s fun, it’s silly, it’s witty, it’s such a great form of escapism which is what I think we all need right now!It’s the same kooky family that you know from the TV show, the movies and the cartoons, but with a brand new adventure. It’s actually set a little bit later in time – Wednesday Addams has grown up and she has found a boyfriend. You’ve got Joanna Clifton playing Morticia, Cameron Blakely (who has done countless West End roles) playing Gomez, you’ve got Scott Paige (Uncle Fester) and Kingsely Morton who is playing Wednesday. She is fresh out of college, although when I say fresh out of college I mean before the pandemic, so life has been on hold since then. I love that all of them in the family have really captured the essence of the characters that we all know and love without impersonating them, they’ve been able to bring something fresh to the roles. I grew up watching the 60’s TV programme so it’s quite close to my heart, and when things are that close to your heart you tend to be a bit biased to the original, but I think everyone has really nailed their characters. It’s such a fun night out!
You play the role of Alice Beineke in the show. What preparation have you done to get into character and to develop your role?
Alice is the mother of Wednesday’s boyfriend, Lucas (who is played by the lovely Ahmed Hamad), but she’s not a character that the audience may have any preconception about, unlike the rest of the family, so it has been a lot of fun to create a character almost from scratch really. Without giving too much away, she definitely goes on a journey throughout the show, trying to be the perfect wife to her husband Mal, played by Sean Kingsley.
Tell me a little bit more about you! How did you become an actress?
My mum is a singing teacher. I’m from outback Queensland originally and I never really thought that performing could be a professional career other than if you were a teacher. My dad presented me one day with a bag filled with prospectuses for university courses, and I was so excited because I didn’t even know that there were colleges that you could go to to study that sort of thing. After wearing the booklets completely thin I applied, then auditioned, then was accepted into the Queensland Conservatoire of Music which was mainly studying classical voice, then I went to Sydney and did a year in acting and then I did a year in dance the following year, so I did all three disciplines at different schools, which was great. I remember my parents always supporting my dream – they didn’t take it lightly and said that if this was what I wanted then I was going to have to work hard to achieve my dream because it’s not easy. Every day after school I would attend singing lessons, dance lessons, acting, piano, choir, workshops as well as being in my local amateur dramatics and my school musicals, so it was very consuming. It was also my social life as I was surrounded by so many like-minded people. It was wonderful – I knew what I wanted to do and it was the only thing I could do, I got so much of my education from musicals!
I can imagine with what has happened with covid it must be so great to be back on stage again! What are your favourite things about performing?
The audience! The relationship with the audience – it’s a two-way relationship and I don’t know if people realise this when they come to watch a show. We will always put 100% into a performance but when you get an auditorium of people who laugh at the jokes, who cheer after the songs, it creates a magical experience and really heightens it for everyone. It really does create a lovely party. Talking about covid, our show has actually been postponed eight times since July 2020. Everyone I think at first thought that we were going to be locked down for just a few weeks and then it kept being postponed. We do consider ourselves one of the extremely lucky shows because so many shows didn’t open or are now being cancelled because the audiences aren’t coming. For our show I have to say a massive thank you to everyone who has booked tickets because it’s those people that are saving the arts. The theatres are doing everything they possibly can to keep their most vulnerable patrons safe, so I think people will start hopefully trusting in that and more people will start to book tickets. It has been just so difficult.
When you’re just about to go on stage, what’s the last thing you do?
Sanitise my hands! Seriously though, The Beineke family don’t come on stage until halfway through the first half, so it’s a really funny feeling when you’re still getting ready and the entire rest of the company are on stage. It’s a nice calm time to prepare myself to go on stage, but actually just before we go on stage the three Beinekes have a team hand combination that we have worked out, so that’s what we normally do before we walk on stage.
You’ve got lots of shows one after another – what does your day look like when you’re on tour?
For this tour we actually have Sundays and Mondays off, so that’s family time, home time. On Tuesdays I tend to travel to wherever our venue is, if it’s not too far. If it’s far away I fly up on Monday evening. Then we have a sound check on Tuesday afternoon and then our first show. Wednesday we often have two shows so I will be in the theatre at around 12 and will then leave about about 10.30pm. Thursdays and Fridays the understudies will often be called in to rehearse their roles and refresh themselves if they haven’t been on for a while. On Thursdays and Fridays we have a show. Saturdays we have two shows again and if we’re not too far away I will drive home and wake up in my own bed on Sunday morning and spend the day with my husband and my doggy. (Note: the two matinee performances at The Alexandra Theatre this week are on Wednesday 19th at 2.30pm and Saturday 22nd January at 2.30pm)
How are you able to calm down after each performance?
I suppose it’s just normal – if you take a 9-5 job and move it along a few hours in the day so that you’re finishing at 10.30pm – I will get home, have a shower and get ready for bed. I try to have dinner before the show. That’s the hardest thing actually, trying to organise the food because you don’t want to eat too late. Watching TV or reading a book, sometimes we will go for a quick drink in the pub with the cast after a show. It’s pretty much normal work but at a different time.
What’s your favourite musical?
I get asked this question a lot and I honestly couldn’t pinpoint. I think I would love to create a new role from scratch, that would be amazing, but I also love the classic musicals like Kiss Me Kate and Anything Goes. Saying that, I’ve always wanted to play the witch in Into the Woods. It changes all the time – when I was 16 I wanted to play Christine in Phantom of the Opera.
If you could go back and relive one moment in your career so far, what would it be?
I was playing Mrs Banks in Mary Poppins and Sir Cameron Mackintosh came to our opening press night and they were taking photos in front of the Mary Poppins sign, and he turned to me and Lisa O’Hare (who was playing Mary Poppins) and said “Right, I need a photo of my two leading ladies,” and I realised “Oh! That’s me!” That was a pinch me moment.
A friend of mine went to stage school and he made a comment once about being asked to pretend to be an egg frying in a pan during a workshop. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever been asked to do either during a rehearsal, at drama school or on stage itself?
It was actually during the audition for Mrs Banks. Sir Cameron Mackintosh asked me completely randomly, “Right, can you do it all in a Birmingham accent.” I replied “If I did that then I probably wouldn’t get the job, but I can do a really good Australian accent!”.
In Birmingham we’re really lucky in that we have some incredible performing arts schools and talented youngsters. What’s your best advice for young performers who want to be on stage?
I know that Birmingham has some incredible young performers because I used to travel every Friday and Saturday to teach at a theatre school, and they were amazing! My advice is to immerse yourself in the arts. Work hard and don’t expect to be given anything – you have to prove yourself over and over again throughout your whole career. If you’ve ever done a show or anything on stage, don’t ever (once you’ve finished that performance) expect that people will see you and know what you can do. It’s never like that even if you become famous. I remember speaking to Shane Richie about this early in my career – when I was much younger we did Scrooged together – and I remember saying to him “it’s easy for you, you’re a celebrity, people know what you can do” and he said “no, the older you get and the more experience you get the more people expect from you, and the more you have to prove yourself.” If you go in with that mind frame you won’t be disappointed – if you go in expecting the hardest kind of lifestyle and if you get anything that is a bit easier then it’s always a nice bonus!
What’s the best advice that you’ve ever been given by anyone in the industry?
Mine is about the rehearsal process. Years ago I was told this and I always remind myself of this before I go on stage. You have to trust your cast mates and trust that they will support you and act other in the rehearsal process. You need to know that you can experiment, not be embarrassed and try something new because that’s the only way that you’re going to find what works and what doesn’t work with a role. Be brave in the rehearsal process and know that everyone is in the exact same situation and feeling vulnerable.
I can’t wait to see Kara on stage!
The Addams Family: the Musical Comedy is on stage from Tuesday 18th January – Saturday 22nd January 2022. Book your tickets here!