Adele Cordner goes behind the scenes of Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival’s musical version of The Addams Family and chats to Rhosyn Boyce-Jones who is stepping into the iconic role of Wednesday Addams.
This year’s Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival at Sophia Gardens is kicking off in spooktacular fashion with The Addams Family Musical by Andrew Lippa, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice.
18 year-old Rhosyn Boyce-Jones is delighted to be cast in her dream role of Wednesday, though she is no stranger to performing.
“I couldn’t put a time stamp on how long I’ve been singing,” Rhosyn tells Adele Cordner. “As cliched as it sounds, I could sing before I could talk. I started in primary school with solo singing competitions in the Eisteddfod. Around eight years old, I was writing my own songs, accompanied by my own piano playing, and always making my own little melodies to my dad’s guitar playing. I started taking music seriously during lockdown. I was producing my own music and sharing it on SoundCloud with a recording set up I was gifted for my 14th birthday.
“Last year, I released my single ‘Call Me Later’ on Spotify. March last year, I joined an Indie Rock band. I was the lead singer, songwriter. We played at Newport Transporter Bridge, Le Pub and Westgate Hotel as part of The Big Sesh Festival, a charity gig in support of Ukraine in Penarth, an acoustic set as part of Welsh Football Fans live stream and sang ‘Yma O Hyd’ with Tinty and the Bucket Hats before the Wales vs Latvia game this year in Cardiff City Stadium.
“I sang all my own material, and we had a blast. A gig in Tiny Rebel supporting ‘The Eurekas’ was our last gig as a full band in May. I have now started a new band with Jack Randall (Lead Guitarist) Jack Pritchard (Bassist) and Josh Atkinson (Drummer). We are ’New Rose.’ ‘New’ for a new beginning and ‘Rose’ because of its English translation of Rhosyn. We have a lot of exciting stuff planned and we are currently in the process of recording an EP.”
Welsh-speaking Rhosyn developed her music studies at Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg in Barry then studied Musical Theatre in Cardiff and Vale College for two years. This September, she starts a BA Musical Theatre course at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
“I only properly delved into musical theatre when I was 14. One of my favourite roles was Nancy in Oliver with Actors Workshop. My most recent role was Killer Queen in We Will Rock You for the end-of-year musical in college. I had so much fun playing the part with great numbers like ‘Play the Game’ and ‘Another One Bites the Dust.’ It was the perfect send off for university in September.”
Rhosyn says that coming from a musical family with her famous granddad Max Boyce can have its challenges as well as benefits.
“Of course, I’ve always had the benefit of a huge amount of support from Tadcu with my musical passions when I was growing up, but I’d often come across people discrediting any success I had by saying it was because of my relation,” says Rhosyn. “However, he’ll say for himself, that every simple chord progression, hook-line of a song or any gigs that come my way are from my own initiative and hard work.
“Growing up with Max was like growing up with any granddad. He would narrate these animated stories before bed, one of my favourites was ‘The Jelly That Couldn’t Wobble.’ I never really understood the relationship other people had with him until I was much older.
“Since I was a little girl, I begged Tadcu to give me an opportunity to sing with him on stage. He didn’t want to showcase me until I was fully ready. Then one day, he came and saw me in my college show when I was 17 and he turned to me and said. ‘Ti’n barod bach’ (You’re ready.) So, in February this year, I did my professional debut as his support singer in Abergavenny Borough Theatre. It was a dream come true. I’ll be supporting him in a couple of concerts this winter as part of his 50th anniversary tour, one of the venues being Treorchy. I can’t wait!”
This is Rhosyn’s second time performing at the Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival.
“I was in the ensemble of the junior show, High School Musical last year and I enjoyed the experience so much, I wanted to audition for a lead role. I’ve watched The Addams Family in the New Theatre before and thought it was a brilliant show.
“I’ve never been able to play a character my own age, so through Wednesday, I’ve had the opportunity to put my own personality into the character. I love how real and unhinged she is. She seems to be hard as nails, but deep down she’s vulnerable as anything. I see some elements of myself in her.
“And I was delighted to see the costume design sketches. It’s far from the classic, white-collared dress of the Wednesday we all know and love from the films. It’s modern, gothy and edgy and really suits the character. I just can’t wait to see the finished product!
“There’s never a dull moment in rehearsals. I admire every cast member so much; we are like a huge family. I’m working with such a talented bunch, and I never take for granted how lucky I am to work with everyone.”
The Addams Family is directed by professional Welsh director Greg Ashton who has 30 years directing experience, working in Hong Kong, Europe and across the UK, including a career highlight of working with Dame Judi Dench.
“I was delighted to be invited to direct this production for Everyman Theatre in my hometown of Cardiff,” says Greg. “I have always been a huge Addams Family fan, from watching re-runs of the TV show as a child and then the awesome Anjelica Houston and Raul Julia in the films. I love composer Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party and the book writers were responsible for Jersey Boys. The lyrics are just fabulously funny.
“Rhosyn is part of an amazing cast, a mix of new and experienced talent, from our Pugsley, Alfie Morwood, straight from performing Elf in the West End and School Of Rock in the UK tour, to our Fester played by Everyman veteran Paul Williams who I first saw in the Festival back in the 90s. I worked with Holly Thompson, our Morticia when she was a 16 year-old college student. She was an amazing Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, and it is wonderful to work with her again now she is an adult.
“I love watching the whole thing come to life with the help of musical director Chris Fossey, choreographer Emma-Jayne Parker, costume designer Erica Groves and set designer Tegan Reg James. I am so lucky to get to do what I love with such a supportive bunch of people.”
The Addams Family Musical runs at Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival, Sophia Gardens from 22 June until 1 July at 8pm and 24 June and 1 July at 3pm. Tickets via Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival’s website
MaIn photo by Gregor Singleton-White