A Kendallville youth feels quite at home portraying Pugsley Addams with Summit City Music Theatre’s production of “The Addams Family.”
That is because his home was the setting for publicity photos for the upcoming production in Fort Wayne.
From musicals to mysteries, from fundraisers to fun, Kendallville’s historic McCray Mansion on East Mitchell Street has opened its stately doors to host events and welcome guests, including visitors from a number of foreign nations.
The home’s current and most recent owners — the Dr. Kevin and Nicole Lowe family preceded by Mike Post and Michael Nelaborige — have been very involved with theater in Kendallville and Fort Wayne.
This month the home is being used to promote “The Addams Family” musical, in which Beckitt Lowe, 12, has a starring role.
Summit City Music Theatre’s production of “The Addams Family” musical will be at The Charles, 3127 Carroll Road, Fort Wayne, the last weekend of October and the first weekend of November.
In addition to Beckitt, the family-friendly musical’s cast includes Kelly Bartlett, Emersen Conner, Jeff Cox, Gavin Thomas Drew, Dave Ealy, Maggie Kole Hunter, Jen Poiry Prough, Prentis Moore and other area favorites.
General admission tickets are $25, $20 for students and seniors; VIP tables that seat six and include a dessert charcuterie board for sharing and a drink ticket for each guest are available for $300.
Tickets, which are limited, are available online at summitcitymt.com.
Beckitt, who grew up watching his sister Gretchen in the musical theater spotlight, has always enjoyed musicals.
But he never imagined himself on stage. He was interested in learning about behind the scenes activities such as lighting and sound, according to his mother, Nicole Lowe.
“This past summer Oak Farm Montessori School (rural Avilla) hosted a summer camp where they pulled off 'Moana Jr.' in a week!” his mother said. “He and his brother, Cooper, auditioned on day one and were cast as Maui and Chief Tui, respectively. Beckitt took his role very seriously and practiced day and night.
“While Beckitt has played violin for almost seven years and guitar for one and half years, he had never sung or acted before. They continued to sing songs from 'Moana Jr.' for weeks after the show was over.”
Mindy Cox, music director for “The Addams Family,” and Gavin Drew, who plays Gomez, led Oak Farm’s summer camp and invited Beckitt to audition for Summit City Music Theatre’s production.
“Being specifically asked to participate boosted his confidence,” Nicole Lowe said, “and when 'Moana Jr.' finished he went right into preparations for the Pugsley Addams role.”
Beckitt, a 6th grader, started kindergarten at Oak Farm in the fall of 2015, shortly after the Lowe family moved to Kendallville. Some of his other interests are taekwondo, soccer and basketball.
Since 2015, when it was acquired by the Lowe family, the McCray Mansion has been used for Gaslight Playhouse’s Murder Mystery fundraiser, two Christmas walks with the Christmas Bureau, photo shoots and numerous prom groups.
The owners prior to the Lowes, Mike Post and Michael Nelaborige, graciously opened the mansion for history tours when Kendallville celebrated the city’s sesquicentennial. The mansion was also the setting for a large farewell gathering for CIAO visitors from Italy in April 2013 and a very successful fundraiser for the Kendallville Public Library in 2006.
The 2006 article by Dennis Nartker in The News Sun stated:
“An Evening at the Mansion will be Saturday, Aug. 27, from 5 to 9 p.m. at the McCray Mansion, 703 E. Mitchell St. Tickets are $40 per person or $70 per couple, and only 50 tickets are available. An Evening at the Mansion is a fundraiser to support the new Kendallville Public Library planned for the former site of the McCray Memorial Hospital adjacent to Bixler Lake Park. Proceeds from the fundraiser will be tripled by a Dekko Foundation grant ...The evening will include a leisurely tour of the refurbished 10,000-square-foot house, hors d’oeuvres, beverages, piano entertainment and a souvenir program. The house on one-acre of land that takes up five city lots in one of Kendallville’s oldest neighborhoods was designed in 1928 by Chicago architect Ralph E. Stoetzel for refrigeration entrepreneur E.E. McCray who started the McCray Refrigeration Co. The three-story house has an 18-foot circular walnut staircase, six bedrooms and baths, a Spanish-tiled breakfast room, mahogany-paneled library, a chauffeur’s apartment and recreation room with its original silver screen for viewing movies. The home has gone through periods of neglect until the 1990s when the owners restored it and turned the mansion into a bed and breakfast called the McCray Mansion Inn. The current owners have spent more than a year reclaiming the property and turning into a stately residence again.”
The Lowes will be hosting a wedding next October for their previous nanny. “We are super excited for this big event!” Nicole Lowe said. “There has also been talk of Summit City Music Theatre hosting 'Clue' here. We love sharing our home with the community. It’s a unique part of Kendallville’s history, and as we restore it we hope that it is around for years to come.”
Beckitt says his role as Pugsley is, for him, a dream role.
“Who doesn’t love terrorizing their sister, being sneaky, and blowing things up with dynamite?” he asked.
He said for him the show is “hilarious.”
“I can’t stop laughing during rehearsals!” he said.