Saturday, October 1, 2011

THE ADDAMS FAMILY • The Fox

The Addams Family began in 1938 as a series of single panel cartoons published in The New Yorker, created by cartoonist Charles Addams.  Since then, they have been adapted into a television series, an animated series, and films.  So, it was just a matter of time before it ended up as a staged Broadway musical, right?  This show has been re-tooled for the national tour, and it kicks off The Fox's Broadway series.

Musicals that have been adapted from popular franchises don't tend to fare too well with NYC critics, and it opened last year to some nasty reviews, but who the hell cares about theatre reviews anyway?!  …Oh wait...

Anyway, it's a highly entertaining, visually delightful show with all of the expected Addams Family familiars -- a passionately romantic Gomez and Morticia (a handsome and charming Douglas Sills and sleek, deadpan Sara Gettelfinger), their daughter Wednesday (Cortney Wolfson -- great voice), who literally tortures her little brother Pugsley (an impressive young Patrick D. Kennedy), much to his delight.  Then you've got a frizzy, dizzy, most likely stoned Grandma (Pippa Pearthree), carting around bottles of elixirs and potions, a sunken-eyed Uncle Fester (Blake Hammond), the zombie-like butler, Lurch (Tom Corbeil), and even a couple of cameo appearances from the disembodied hand, Thing, and Cousin Itt.  And yes, much to the delight of the audience, the overture begins with Vic Mizzy's unmistakable tv series theme, "Buh-da-da-dum (snap, snap)".

THE ADDAMS FAMILY National Tour Company.
Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel
There's no mistaking the Addams Family's fondness for the macabre the minute you hear the opening number, "When You're an Addams" -- long dead ancestors are roused from their tombs for an annual assemblage to celebrate what it means to "be an Addams".  You know -- creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky.  Before the dead ones are allowed back into their graves though, Uncle Fester enlists their help in a current family situation.  See, Wednesday has fallen for Lucas Beineke (Brian Justin Crum) -- a normal boy from Ohio, and she plans to marry him and has invited the Beinekes over for drinks and dinner so the families can meet each other.  Fester knows this is gonna be tricky, so he intervenes along with the ancestors to try to make sure that love wins the day.  Who knew Uncle Fester was such a romantic?

In an almost desperate attempt to try to have her family come off as everyday folks, Wednesday preps her family for the visit, while her father Gomez struggles to keep the intended marriage a secret from his wife Morticia.  When the Beinekes arrive, they find themselves completely out of their element, but once they're forced to spend the night in the family's ghoulish old mansion, some common ground is made, and everything turns out for the best -- naturally.  It's really a pretty traditionally structured love story couched within the oddness of the Addams Family.  I mean, where else can you see a loving mother tuck her son into bed with promises that she's sure a monster will come out in the night and eat him alive -- only to be followed by a huge iguana springing out from underneath the bed?

All of the leads were in great voice, and the chorus of ancestors, in all of their various costumes, were energetic and added a lot to the proceedings.  There's also a fair amount of nifty stagecraft, and the show manages to make the family as atypical as we would expect, while striking the responsive chords that make them relatable.  It's a really fun night out at the theatre.  Screw the killjoys -- I had a great time.  Check it out!


THE ADDAMS FAMILY

Book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice 
Music/lyrics by Andrew Lippa 
Directed by Phelim McDermott & Julian Crouch
Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Blvd.
through October 9 | tickets: $25 - $82
Performances Tuesday to Friday at 8pm, Saturdays at 2 & 8pm, Sundays at 2pm, Sunday, October 2 at 7:30pm, Thursday, October 6 at 1pm

Cast:
Douglas Sills (Gomez Addams), Sara Gettelfinger (Morticia Addams), Martin Vidnovic (Mal Beineke), Crista Moore (Alice Beineke), Blake Hammond (Uncle Fester), Pippa Pearthree (Grandma), Tom Corbeil (Lurch), Patrick D. Kennedy (Pugsley Addams), Brian Justin Crum (Lucas Beineke),  and Cortney Wolfson (Wednesday Addams).

Creative:
Costume and scenic design by Phelim McDermott & Julian Crouch; choreography by Sergio Trujillo; lighting design by Natasha Katz; sound design by Acme Sound Partners; creative consultation, Jerry Zaks; puppetry by Basil Twist; stage manager, E. Cameron Holsinger.

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