This week, the Addams Family crawled from its crypts and found their way to the stage at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre. The Broadway play, that is based on the characters from the 1960s television show (or the 1990s film trilogy for the youngsters), debuted at New York’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on April 8, 2010. It has recently given way to Ghost: The Musical, but the spirit of the Addams Family on the stage lives on as the national tour makes its way across the country.
The musical opens in a graveyard as our lovable creepozoids reenact their yearly ritual to raise their dead relatives from their sarcophaguses to revel in family togetherness. As you can see the families creepiness hasn’t been muffled just because this is Broadway. Its not long until we hit the crux of our story. Little Wednesday (Cortney Wolfson) is all grown up as she’s completely smitten with a young “normal” man named Lucas. The two are freshly engaged, but there is one critical element standing between the couple and wedded bliss — meeting the parents. Wednesday confides in Gomez (Douglas Sills) the pair’s secret act and forces him to swear to lock away her secret from the meddling Morticia (Sara Gettelfinger). Gomez begrudgingly agrees and sets into motion a string of false truths that would consume the play.
The dinner between the Addams Family and Lucas’ parental units is set. Wednesday begs and pleads for her quirky clan to adopt the foreign behavior of normalcy for just one evening, but she probably would have had an easier time telling Cousin Itt to get a haircut. Lucas’ domineering father and doorstep of a mother reluctantly travel from their safe haven of Ohio to the wilds of New York City to meet this strange clan yet have no idea the life changing dinner that awaits them.
The Addams Family, at its heart, is a comedy. The dialog is filled with clever quips and double meanings that keep the audience laughing. The play’s producers do assume you have had a proper introduction to the Addams Family at some point in the past since they launch right into the action.
The cast is strong. Sara Gettelfinger plays Morticia in her trademark dress cut down to South America. I’m still not sure how here breasts stay wrangled into that costume. Pugsley (Patrick D Kennedy) has a small but critical role as the brother unwilling to let his sister leave. Tom Corbeil, as Lurch, probably has the easiest role, largely emulating a bookend till the play’s closing bell. Gomez and Fester were by far the strongest characters in the mix. Douglas Stills stole the spotlight in every scene Gomez inhabited with his over-the-top zeal and spice for life. Blake Hammond’s Fester served as our narrator and got a large comic punch because of it.
The set designs weren’t terribly elaborate but did manage to nicely set the scene. The play’s producers did fashion the curtains to frame the action very well. I’d never seen curtains used quite like this in a Broadway musical. It wasn’t all roses though as the scene where Fester tries to dry hump the moon fell incredibly flat in its sheer ridiculousness.
The Addams Family follows Broadway’s recent formula of resurrecting Baby Boomer favorites and dusting them off for the stage. Its certainly not the freshest of formulas, but it usual leads to a decent chance at box office success since this demographic has the dollars to drop on their trips to the Big Apple.
Overall, The Addams Family is an enjoyable evening of ghoulish escapism. It won’t set your world on fire, but it will allow you to reconnect with these zany characters from yesteryear. I mean how many times in life do you get to see the Grim Reaper throw down in a line dance? We get to open the book of their lives for another quirky chapter set to song and dance as only Broadway could deliver.
The Addams Family tour is heading to Seattle, Dallas and Salt Lake City in the coming months so be sure to mark your calendars.
Author: Mark Runyon