The stage lights go on, and there they stand, instantly recognizable.
Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Fester, Lurch and Grandmama — the lovably dysfunctional characters born from the mind of cartoonist Charles Addams and now brought to life on the Phi Beta Kappa Hall stage.
From comic strips to TV shows to movies and, in 2010, a Broadway musical, the setting and circumstances may change, but the Addams Family remains an iconic bunch with the equally enduring reminder that, "normal" or not, family is family.
As the annual musical of the season from the College of William and Mary's Department of Theatre, Speech and Dance, "The Addams Family" opens Nov. 10.
Here's the dilemma: Wednesday Addams has fallen in love, much to her own surprise, with a normal boy from Ohio. She reveals to her father Gomez that the two want to get married, begging him to keep the news a secret from her mother Morticia.
With Gomez caught between wife and daughter, Wednesday announces her fiance's family is coming to dinner, imploring the Addams to act "normal." The Beinekes arrive to the mansion, and the laughs ensue.
With a cast of 22, a live band, big dance numbers and a sprawling set designed by David Schuhy, William and Mary's "The Addams Family" offers the quintessential musical experience.
"It's such a fun show," said director Laurie Wolf, who also directed last season's popular musical, "Avenue Q."
"But what is so fun about it is that it's looking at family values, and I think that it strikes home with everybody," she said. "There's a line in the opening song that goes, 'It's family first and family last and family by and by.'"
In the midst of the humor, the macabre, the spectacle, "The Addams Family" touches on things like the nuances of a 25-year marriage, for one.
"I think they represent traditional family values in a very untraditional way," said Kaelyn Warne, a senior at William and Mary and the show's Morticia.
Warne said much of the show centers on Wednesday's secret and how the secret-keeping causes rifts in the family.
"Once people start being honest with each other, that's when the family kind of comes back together," she said. "I think it's just about being honest with the people that you care about."
The show's Gomez, freshman Xavi Soto Burgos, said he was one of the few people in the cast unfamiliar with the Addams family; he'd never seen any of the episodes or movies. He's come to understand the characters' appeal.
"They are so comfortable with who they are that they don't try to be anyone else. It's just: this is who we are, and if you don't like it, then it doesn't matter," he said.
Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.
Want to go?
When: 7:30 p.m., Nov. 10-12 and 17-19; 2 p.m., Nov. 13 and 20
Where: Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall, 601 Jamestown Road.
Tickets: $20/adults, $16/military, $15/groups of 10 or more, $12/students.
Tickets available at PBK Hall (open 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday-Friday; 10 a.m. until 30 minutes after curtain the day of each show), by calling 221-2674 or at wm.edu/boxoffice.