AddamsFest Honored with Special Screening of ‘Wednesday’ Series

By SUSAN MYRILL DOUGHERTY
For The Westfield Leader

WESTFIELD – The black carpet was out, and the atmosphere was wickedly wild. Audience members started lining up on Wednesday, October 26th on East Broad Street at the Center for Creativity Rialto Theater in Westfield for the anticipated screening of the Netflix production of “Wednesday.” The Netflix series of the supernatural black comedy Addams Family fame won’t be released until November 23, but as a special part of AddamsFest, permission was granted to Town Councilwoman Dawn Mackey to preview the first episode of the show as part of the festival. This is the fifth year of the town’s celebration of Charles Addams who was raised and lived in Westfield. The much-anticipated night showcased a display of some of his 150 single-panel cartoons from the New Yorker magazine and was capped off with the screening of the hour-long series episode that features the teenage daughter of Gomez and Morticia Addams, Wednesday.

Michael Krupnick and Ania Levinson, big Tim Burton fans, entered the online lottery for tickets to the screening and were thrilled they were among the winners. Ms. Levinson dressed as Debbie Jellinsky, a serial killer, who married Uncle Fester in the 1993 “Addams Family Values” movie. She carried a “Malibu Barbie” like the character did in the film and suggested, “If you haven’t seen this one with actress Joan Cusack, you should.”

According to Adrian Pastore, volunteer producer of the two-week series of events that included the screening, a Masquerade ball, a beer garden, a nighttime lantern stroll through the Presbyterian Church’s cemetery on Mountain Avenue and fantastic artwork by Maniac Pumpkin Carvers, and more, “We never could put on this spectacular production without the help of volunteers and our sponsors.”

Barbara Monaghan, one of the volunteer docents for the art show that was open for two weekends, said she enjoys being on hand to give guests a little background on Charles Addams and his work. Ms. Monaghan has volunteered every year the event has been held. This year, Addams’ original desk and chair were a part of the exhibition in the lobby area of the theatre that seats 150.

Netflix had a particular word about this screening: embargo. “All reviews of the first episode of ‘Wednesday’ are currently under embargo,” we were warned. The media blackout will lift on November 23 when the series begins.

That night our phones were relinquished to prevent a bootleg copy from being filmed. Ten big cities in the USA were selected for a private screening of this first episode of the series. And, as Councilwoman Dawn Mackey, originator of Addams Fest told the audience before the lights in the theater lowered, “Little old Westfield was granted permission to be a part of the screening!” Reportedly, Ms. Mackey lobbied long and hard for that honor for the town. So, it was fitting for it to be a part of the second weekend of the festival.

Last weekend’s events culminated with an added surprise at the theater where the “wrap party” was a mummy-wrapping fun time for kids and adults alike. Ms. Pastore stressed that no taxpayer money goes into the two-week festival. Private donations, sponsorships, and ticket revenue defray the cost. She explained that she was grateful and happy for the good weather the fest enjoyed. “People come from all over the state,” she said. “This is all about building community.” And, in looking at the energy and excitement for all the festival’s activities, that’s exactly what it did.

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