Oscar E Moore

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The Addams Family – Not what you expect

April 15th, 2010 by Oscar E Moore




Performing in the wake of a slew of scathing reviews from the majority of critics can’t be easy for the cast of The Addams Family at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.  But they are performing valiantly, refusing to be buried alive, headed by top banana Nathan Lane as Gomez and the lithe, deadpan Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia. 

And if the reaction from the audience on Wednesday evening is any indication of its afterlife, The Addams Family will have a healthy run.  They have a huge advance and it’s nearly impossible to get orchestra tickets until September. 

After all, the bottom line is if the audience, the paying audience, has a good time at the show.  And they did.  I always ask myself as a person who receives press tickets if I would pay full price to see the show I am reviewing.  My answer for The Addams Family is yes I would.  I had a great time.  Is that not enough?

It’s not perfect but extremely entertaining from the imaginative sets and puppets, to the ingenious use of the show curtain, to Nathan Lane’s Tony worthy performance to Kevin Chamberlin’s Uncle Fester’s love affair with the moon, to Jackie Hoffman’s outrageous potion wielding Grandma… and the list of surprising treats goes on and on.

Alright, it’s not The Addams Family one would expect.  The macabre group of people made famous by the cartoons of Charles Addams – a family wallowing in the perverse and reverse of what would make normal people happy.  But writers – clever writers Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice know how to make an audience laugh – bad puns and topical references notwithstanding.  There is a snap, crackle and plenty of pop in the book to make even Lurch (Zachary James) laugh.

They have taken a well worn plot line – inviting a supposedly normal family (Terrence Mann & Carolee Carmello) from Ohio to dine with the abnormal Gomez and Family in their musty and moldy Central Park mansion (with a squid in the basement) so that they can discuss the impending marriage of their normal son Lucas (Wesley Taylor) to a suddenly grown up and rebellious sans pigtails teen Wednesday (Krysta Rodriguez).  Will love triumph?  Of course, complications ensue.  First and foremost put into action by Pugsley (Adam Riegler) her jealous brother who misses being tortured by her.  All set to song (Andrew Lippa) and some dance (Sergio Trujillo) with a chorus of ghostly relatives.

It has been brilliantly designed by Phelim McDermott & Julian Crouch (Another Tony nomination here) who are listed as directors along with Jerry Zaks as Creative Consultant who was brought in when the The Addams Family was sinking in Chicago.  It seems they have all managed to keep the ship afloat despite some sharks in the wings ready for the kill.

The score by Andrew Lippa is a mixed bag to say the least but not as awful as reported.  Although I found myself referencing “It’s Magic”, “My Way” and “I Won’t Send Roses” from Jerry Herman’s Mack and Mabel.  There are some lively numbers and a couple of duds.  But tuneful overall.  The second act showstopper is given to narrator Uncle Fester and it is magical.  “The Moon and Me” should garner a Tony nomination for Mr. Chamberlin as well.

Whether The Addams Family has legs or not (Bebe Neuwirth certainly does and does her best with what she is given) remains to be seen.  This cast is The Addams Family and friends and in the hands of others, who knows what the results would be.

www.theaddamsfamilymusical.com                 Photo:  Joan Marcus

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