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August 22, 2011

"The Addams Family" Musical: A Ghoulish Hoot

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Courtesy Addams Family Musical

I won’t lie to you, the Broadway musical The Addams Family wasn’t at the top of my list of shows to see.

I was a Munsters fan.

But after seeing the show last week, with its first rate cast and “let’s not take ourselves too seriously” attitude, I have to say, I had a ghoulishly good time.

The show, based on the Charles Addams’ New Yorker cartoons about a “creepy, kooky; mysterious and spooky” family, stars Broadway, film and TV vet Roger Rees as Gomez Addams and Brooke Shields as his ghostly wife, Morticia.

The show kicks off with the opening number, “When You’re an Addams,” and it’s a toe tapping hoot.  It takes place in the Addams’ family cemetery and is the family’s yearly celebration of life and death. 

Especially death.

“On this special night we summon our beloved ancestors to join us for this celebration and you know what that means…line dance!” says Gomez.

Enter a chorus line of dead Addams ancestors to strut their deathly stuff.

“Bunny hop!"

“Rigor Mortis!” 

“Death rattle!”

But what would a Broadway show be without a love story?  This show’s crucifix-crossed lovers are Wednesday Addams (Rachel Potter) and Lucas Beineke (Jesse Swenson).The normally dour Wednesday has been transformed by love into a girl who dreams of butterflies and unicorns, while her beau Lucas is besotted by the strange girl in basic black.

The fun really begins when Lucas’ “normal” parents come to the Addams mausoleum, er home, for dinner.  There they meet the hysterically crazy Uncle Fester (Brad Oscar), the cadaverous Lurch (Zachary James), and the wacky Grandma Addams (Jackie Hoffman).

In fact one of the best lines in the show is delivered by Grandma when describing some of her mystical potions to grandson Pugsley (Adam Riegler).

“This one will turn Mary Poppins into Medea,” she says.

A puzzled Pugsley complains he doesn’t know who Mary Poppins and Medea are.

“You would if you stopped texting all the time and picked up a book!”

That one got a big round of applause.

Rees plays Gomez with comic gusto but never makes him goofy, while Brooke is a capable singer and dancer.  Heidi Blickenstaff as Lucas’ mother Alice, is also a standout.

The sets and lighting are rich and wonderful when bringing the Addams family mansion to vibrant life, and appropriately cheesy when Uncle Fester sings a love song to the moon.

On the down side, the romance is somewhat flat and you don’t want to ask too many questions about a family that loves everything dark and death related but still celebrates love. Or why the object of Wednesday’s affections looks like a young Jim Carrey in Truman.

The songs sound like samples of every other hit Broadway song you’ve ever heard but the singing is so good, you don’t mind.

And if I’m being persnickety, I had a problem with the quality of Morticia’s signature hip hugging shroud with the neckline “cut down to Venezuela.”  It was a little too cheap looking for my taste, as if Morticia went shopping at Target instead of Bloomingdales. 

Fans of the "Addams Family" TV show and movie, should love the show and for everyone else, if you’re looking for a fun night on Broadway, "get a witch’s shawl on, a broomstick you can crawl on, and go pay a call on, The Addams Family."

Cross Posted from BlogHer

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