They’re creepy, spooky: Hesston College theater camp putting on Addams Family musical

Camper Aida Hartvickson encourages another camper on Monday afternoon while watching others audition. Wendy Nugent/Harvey County Now

By Wendy Nugent, Harvey County Now

NEWTON—The children in the movie “Addams Family Values” are sent to summer camp with their spookiness contrasting against the backdrop of fresh air, sunshine, girls with blue eyes and golden hair and swimming. That idea is doing a 180 as kids with fresh faces and happy smiles in the Hesston College summer theater camp are putting on “The Addams Family” musical on Saturday.

The camp started on Monday with check-in kicking it off. Campers did general auditions on Monday afternoon, with all singing the same song and dancing the same dance in groups of four.

Several youths were there during auditions, after which director Rachel Jantzi and music director Russell Adrian met to cast parts as campers were dismissed for about an hour.

From left, camp attendees Taylor Redington, Beetle Hatch and Grace Shirley react during other campers auditioning on Monday afternoon at Hesston College. Wendy Nugent/Harvey County Now

One of the campers attending was Hazel Huber of Newton, who sported green hair.

She said camp is for youth ages 11-18.

“I’ve always, like, wanted to be on stage acting,” she said. “That’s why I love drama.”

She’s never been in such a production before and said she’s one of the youngest to attend camp. She has, however, sung with the Newton Community Children’s Choir and has done violin and piano performances.

“I used to do dance, but I didn’t like it, and I’ve been doing piano since I was 5,” she said.

There was no particular role in which she wanted to be cast, although she does have a favorite character.

“I like Wednesday because she likes black, and I do, too, and she’s just so creepy,” Huber said.

She didn’t want to be cast in a big part.

Rachel Jantzi, left, and choreographer Liz Fulcher dis- cuss important matters during camp on Monday. Wendy Nugent/Harvey County Now

“I want a really minor part,” she said on Monday during auditions.

She’s seen the animated Addams Family version but not the movies.

Another camper from Newton was 16-year-old Beetle Hatch, who will be a senior at Newton High School next academic year. She said she was in all the productions at NHS this past year, like “Wizard of Oz” and “Too Much Light.”

Hatch has seen the Addams Family TV show and likes Addams family things. Her favorite character also is Wednesday.

“She’s not, like, that different from everyone else in her family, but she has her own energy, and she stands out.”

Hatch also enjoys theater.

“I like the expression in it and the ability to portray,” she said.

Another student from Newton was Taylor Redington, 16, who will be an NHS senior next school year.

“I love being able to express myself and kind of be whoever I want, and you’re being in a group with people who like doing the same thing you do,” she said about what she enjoys about theater.

This summer is her sixth time attending the Hesston College theater camp.

“I just came to be in it,” she said about camp. “I just come to come.”

She’s also been in Newton High School productions, like murder mysteries that were put on this past year and her sophomore year.

Isaiah Schertz, 19, of Hesston is a recent Hesston High School graduate. He said this summer marks his fourth year at camp.

“I really love interacting with people and performing and seeing how much people enjoy everyone’s performance and putting a smile on people’s faces,” he said.

He’s been in HHS plays, like “Scrambled” and “Saving the Wild, Wild West.”

Schertz doesn’t plan to pursue theater after this summer as a career.

Hazel Huber of Newton smiles during “The Addams Family” musical auditions at theater camp. Wendy Nugent/Harvey County Now

“It’s more of a hobby to me,” he said, adding he was 14 the first time he was in a production, which was at a theater camp.

His favorite role was portraying Shere Khan in “The Jungle Book.” Shere Khan is the main villain.

“I really loved the costume that I got for it and my presence of being a big cat, being feared in the jungle and toying with the protagonist,” he said.


“The Addams Family” musical will be performed at 2 p.m., Saturday, June 18, at Hesston Mennonite Church. Each student attending gets two free tickets for family members. Otherwise, admission cost is $3. The public is invited.

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