Next to Sean Miller’s name on the program for Norfolk Academy’s 39th annual Winter Musical, The Addams Family, there are seven asterisks. Those tiny stars are an indication of his passion: In his 12-year journey through Norfolk Academy, Miller has appeared in seven musicals—more than any other student in the production, which involves the efforts of more than 100 students, backstage and in the spotlights.
This year, he’s starring as Gomez—the patriarch of the Addams family, by turns puckish and suave, wheedling his way back into the graces of his alluringly aloof wife, Morticia, a role that is double-cast, with Laura Read ’20 and Lelia Ottinger ’20 playing the role during the six-day run of the show (including previews).
He loves the role, with the challenge of taking on a Spanish accent (and singing in it), wielding a sword, and dancing in a variety of styles, including the tango. “I needed a crazy, over-the-top accent,” he said. “It makes me feel more confident.”
But musicals are just part of the story. Miller has been performing on Norfolk Academy stages since third grade, when he was in The Emperor’s New Clothes, performed by the school’s Young People’s Theater Program. In that play, he had a single line, albeit a critically important one. “I was the boy who got to shout, ‘The emperor’s not wearing any clothes!’” he recalls.
He performed in YPTP plays through sixth grade, and he was increasingly hooked on acting. His skill landed him in the world of Captain Hook; as a fifth grader, he was tapped to play little Michael in the school’s 2013 musical, Peter Pan, where he learned to fly—soaring ten feet up into the rafters via wires and pulleys.
When he got to the Middle School, he immediately leaped into the fall play and winter musical. A role that played as an eighth grader still haunts him; he was Honza in I Never Saw Another Butterfly, about the concentration camp at Terezin. When he was in 10th grade, Norfolk Academy introduced a spring play into the rotation, and he was elated, he said. “We like to emphasize the three-sport athlete at NA. I always joke that I am a three-play athlete.”
In seventh and eighth grades, he joined the Virginia Stage Company’s production of A Christmas Carol, playing several minor roles, including a youngster in the Cratchit family, alongside full-time actors. “It gave me a look at how professionals view acting,” he noted.
As Miller heads to college—the National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist has been accepted at Yale and University of Virginia but is awaiting word from other places before he decides—one thing is certain: “I really want to keep acting in college...I really enjoy acting. There is something fun about letting go of yourself and being this entirely different person.”
Want to see the show?
The Addams Family will be performed on Friday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. with matinee performances at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15 and Sunday, Feb. 16. Tickets, available at the box office inside the Samuel C. Johnson Theater before the show, are $7 for children/students/senior citizens and $12 for adults.