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  • Writer's pictureLisa Baldacchino

Addams Family Technical and Production Team

Helloo Beautiful People! I hope you are all safe and staying inside. It has been 4 weeks since Arthaus brought the musical Addams Family to Malta. So this week I decided to talk to the whole behind this massive musical.

This week I interviewed all those involved in the making of this musical; Costumes, props, set, producer, assistant producer, assistant stage manager and more. Here is what they had to say.

First off here is a photo of all the crew.

From Left to Right Bottom Level: John Camilleri (Set Construction), Charlo (Stage hands), Amy Caruana Dingli (Committee & Backstage Crew), Joseph Caruana Dingli (Set Construction), Joseph Camilleri (Stage Manager).

From Left to Right on the Stairs: Claire Ellul (Committee & Backstage Crew), Reuben Ellul (Backstage Crew & assisting with construction), Stephen Grech (Construction & Backstage Crew), James Camilleri (Assisting with design and construction & backstage crew), Elly Grech Pirotta(Prop Design and Construction), Maria Aguis (Set Design and Construction), Neil Zahra (Assistant Producer & assisting with set construction), Greta Attard (backstage crew), Elisa Gatt (Director’s Assistant & assistant stage manager), Annemarie Grech (Committee & backstage crew)

Special thanks also to (not in the photo): ​Neil Zahra, Stefania Grech Vella, Yvonne Vella, Jackie Melillo Maistre, Adrian Mamo, Celaine Vella, Chis Muscat, Lisa Grech, Edel Pace, Michael Garcia, Philip Pirotta, Raffaella Corrieri, Yandrick Agius and anyone else who contributed to making this set so magical.


Maria Agius - Set Designer and Construction

What was your role in this production

Set designer, set construction

What did your job entail?

Nothing much, we sat down, talked about the script, drew the sketch and that was it. That’s it. Ye right…wrong job description!

What was the process for your jobs like?

For starters I went through the script to understand the story and the different scenes that would be required. Yes I did sit down with the director and set builder to go over the design, multiple times. After each meeting both Joseph Caruana Dingli and myself would go home, digest the director’s ideas then we’d sit again some days later and come up with various solutions.

There’s a lot of research involved related to architectural designs and set furnishings. It involves a lot of concept design, modelling, and producing of samples. The more visual the better, because when you can see and touch something it makes it more concrete. You also need to ensure that

the colour scheme matched the costume colours.

There are a lot of things to keep in mind during the design, like giving the actors enough entrances and exits for every scene. There are also health and safety considerations to keep in mind. Our set included some large rotatable structures, so we had to make sure that the movement was smooth and didn’t distract much from the actors movements on stage but accompanied it.

During the various design alterations, at the back of our mind there was also the get-in and get-out. The run was very short, just two shows, and we had a very limited time to set-up and dismantle everything. So while designing and building the set we made sure that things could be put together and dismantled quickly. The structures were set-up, painted and dismantled before being moved into the theatre where they were re-assembled again. In fact we had pretty much all of our set construction and painting ready before get-in. The get-in was about putting things together and doing some touch-ups.

I feel very proud to say that everything, even the 40m of stencilling, was hand-made, upcycled or recycled to cut down on costs as much as possible.

What was the most exciting moment?

Definitely assembling the set during tech week by far. That is where all the pieces of the puzzle started coming together; where the set model actually comes to life. Everything starts to blend in and you see the set move. You see the actors on stage working with the set.

Up until then even though there is the set model, it is mostly an image you projected in your mind of how things should finally look. You are always working to achieve that picture, but then when you see it fills

you with a sense of accomplishment and pride. We did not have the space to be able to assemble all the pieces of the set together prior to tech week.

What do you feel was the toughest moment?

There were many small tough moments. Keeping up with a full time job, studies, sports and family is not easy but theatre, especially the technical part, is something that I am really passionate about.

We had a to-do list which seemed to have no end to it. There is always something you can improve or arrange to make it look better. Then you have colours that don’t turn up as you want them to, things looking back you would have designed differently and changes required by the director that you try to adjust to.

I look back as these “tough” moments as lesson you learn from to become a better person and designer. Needless to say, the great camaraderie of the team and our mantra which I shall not divulge, kept us going even when we were tired and discouraged.


Elly Grech Pirotta - Prop Mistress

What was your role in this production​: - Props Mistress

What did your job entail:- Creating or acquiring all props required for production

What was the process for your job like:

• Prepared a list of props required

• Split said list into two groups; ‘Create’ and ‘Acquire’

• Research pictures and ideas of appropriate design for items required

• With the ‘Create’ list in mind, try to think of recycling household items and creatively put together items in order to design the prop required. The idea is to create realistic items while keeping the expense as low as possible

• Items on the Acquired list are then split into a borrow and purchase list. Where we ask around

our family and friends and first try to borrow some of the items, if this is not possible we source a supplier, both locally and online.

What was the most exciting moment:

- Watching the first run at the theatre where everyone’s hard work comes together and you are seeing the whole production as a whole

What do you feel was the toughest moment for you:

- Creating a functioning torture chair


Stefania Grech Vella – Costume Designer and Producer

What was your role in this production:

Costume Designer and Producer

What did your job entail​:

Costume Designer: Researching each character, designing each look and looking for/creating sewing patterns, choosing appropriate fabric for dancing while keeping within a tight budget, accessorising including wigs, headpieces, gloves and jewellery and giving each character a unique identity while keeping a balanced and uniform look for the three groups of cast, i.e. the Addams Family, The Ancestors and the Beineke Family.

Producer: I'll try to be brief. It all started with choosing and discussing a project with the artistic director and creating a very detailed budget with possible risk factors, followed by pitching our idea to the committee of the production house. Once we got the go ahead, I started engaging the

services of the different contractors and vendors while establishing the tasks of our team members. Simultaneously, together with the team, I started searching for potential supporters of this project - These organisations are absolutely vital for the support of performing arts and we work hard to show them that our product is well worthy of featuring their brand. The role of producer and production manager is vast and covers many (and I mean many!) areas. In a production of this calibre, attention to detail in all aspects is an absolute must and it is very easy to overlook important information or miss a deadline or two. Thankfully,I had a very talented and reliable assistant producer who was always one step ahead of me and helping me throughout the process. Together we made sure that all the team had a continuous flow of information and kept to their commitments and deliveries

What was the process for your job like​:

Costume Designer: Hand drawn sketches of each character. Intense discussions with costume

maker to discuss all possibilities. Choosing

sewing patterns and deducing what fabric is most suitable and cost effective. Accessorising for a complete look.

Producer: : I

am pleased to say that it all felt well planned and well paced. There were obviously those few overwhelming moments when all the loose ends seem to slap you in the face to get them done in time, but the excitement and "wow" moments were surely present at each and every rehearsal. We had an exceptional cast of hard working and insanely talented individuals. I can honestly say that the feel-good-factor was present with each cast and team member from day one up until the last bow

What was the most exciting moment:

Costume Designer: The most exciting moment was definitely the first time I saw all the ancestors wearing their costume as a team, and seeing how all the different muted shades of fabric and different textures fit in perfectly together. Up till then, I had only seen dozens of individual pieces of fabric, which only made sense together in my head and imagination. What a relief it was to see them work well together. 18 different characters representing different eras from history, which looked and felt like one team.

Producer: Sitzprobe. The first time I heard that orchestra play ​our ​ tango number, I was in complete awe. Nothing short of "magical" ... and I couldn't hold back the tears for long. TIll today, I can still hear it in my head and feel that incredible sense of warmth.

What do you feel was the toughest moment for you​:

Costume Designer: The most tiring process was the weekly shopping trips to choose and purchase the fabric.It is not only time consuming but also requires a lot of focus to get the right fabric. I am very good at imagining things well in my head, but not too great at explaining or putting it into words. By time, I have learnt to trust my instinct and be adamant on what I want.

Producer: The most intense moment was obviously production week. We had a massive and beautiful set, plenty of lighting and sound equipment which needed to be assembled and programmed into a tight schedule. Months and months of hard work and planning to be put together like a puzzle in a few short days. Thankfully, everyone understood the urgency of their work and we had minimum glitches throughout that week. But it took a good three days for me to start breathing again!


Elisa Gatt - Director’s Assistant and Assistant Stage Manager

What was your role in this production?

My initial role was that of a Director’s Assistant, however throughout production week and the performances I was also backstage as Assistant Stage Manager.

What did your job entail?

As a director’s assistant I served as a helping hand for the Director, assisting with taking down notes, writing down blocking and being book during rehearsals. As assistant stage manager, I was backstage throughout the shows helping with the props and set.

What was the process for you like in this production from the first rehearsal to the final show?

My first rehearsal was a script reading with the mains, and I could already imagine them on stage the day I met them, they fit their characters so well. I felt the same way with the ancestors, they were all so professional. I loved seeing them grow as a family, their energy amazed me, and they managed to keep it throughout the whole production process, even during the long production week rehearsals.

What was the most exciting moment?

The most exciting moment for me was seeing our first on stage rehearsal. We spent most of our rehearsals trying to imagine the set, and finally seeing the cast work with it was surreal. I have been taking part with Arthaus since I was 10 years old, starting with Destination Musicals, and seeing them grow with each production that passes by has been amazing, I would have never have imagined myself taking part in such a production.

What do you feel was the toughest moment for you?

When I was backstage, I was always worried that something would go wrong. This was my first time working backstage, so initially I felt a bit out of my comfort zone, but once the production started I quickly settled in. The team worked really well which helped me so much in adapting myself, although I grew confident as the show went on, I was still a tad anxious, however I still really enjoyed the whole experience, and can’t wait for the next production.


Neil Zahra - Assistant Producer

What was your role in this production​:

Assistant Producer, Light Cues

What did your job entail: Assisting Stefania in wherever was necessary, and trying my best to make sure that whatever hasn't been thought of is catered for, while ensuring that the light cues are as crisp as possible.

What was the process for you like in this production from the first rehearsal to the final show:

It was a huge learning experience, which intensified with each and every rehearsal. Listening and watching the cast learn their numbers in a rehearsal space and acting them on stage was truly a treat. In all honesty, just bearing witness to the whole creative process, and pitching in whenever I could, was beyond rewarding.

What was the most exciting moment:

Opening the curtain on opening night to the rapturous applause of an audience meeting a family of which they're already part.

What do you feel was the toughest moment for you​:

Timing the pressing of the button to open said curtain.

There you have it guys, a little sneak peak into the process from paper to stage for Arthaus's 2020 musical The Addams Family!

Thank you guys for tuning in to another Featured Friday! Stay Safe and Stay Home!

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