BWW Reviews: THE ADDAMS FAMILY Tour Proves Lackluster, Now Through 4/22
Since their creation in the 1930s by cartoonist Charles Addams, The Addams Family clan – Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley and Uncle Fester – has managed to infiltrate popular culture. Whether it's singing along to the finger-snapping theme song from the 1960s television show or instant recognition of the macabre characters, most everyone has a connection to the Addamses.
That's one reason the touring production of The Addams Family was so disappointing. Aside from brief interludes in the overture and the curtain call, the finger-snapping music wasn't there. The family didn't seem as creepy and kooky as it should have. Sure Morticia beheaded some roses, Uncle Fester lit a light bulb in his mouth and Wednesday tortured Pugsley on the rack … but it wasn't enough.
The premise of the show had promise: A college-aged Wednesday has fallen in love with a "normal" boy named Lucas and their families are set to meet for the first time. The book – written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice – doesn't impress. First of all, I find it hard to believe that the Wednesday Addams I'm familiar with would fall in love so quickly with Lucas Beineke, even though he does have a few qualities she'd find attractive. Second, the humor is low-brow and panders to the audience most often than not. The fourth wall is obviously broken when long pauses are taken for laugh lines and the actors play to the audience.
Andrew Lippa's score is forgettable, which is a shame because his work on THE WILD PARTY and YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN are stellar. The music has Latin rhythms running throughout, which are sometimes catchy but you won't leave the theatre humming any of them. It would've been nice had Lippa built off of Vic Mizzy's television theme song a bit more.
The sets are simple, consisting mostly of backdrops with a few pieces of movable furniture. I did appreciate the use of the large, heavy curtain to frame the various scenes. The dark burgundy with gold roping was appropriate for the large, Victorian mansion the family resides in. Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott designed the sets as well as the costumes. The latter reflected the well-known characters perfectly – Gomez in a pinstripe suit, Morticia in a fishtail dress, Wednesday in black and Pugsley in a striped t-shirt. At least the creative team didn't stray too far from the familiar in that instance.
Acting-wise, the cast does the best they can with the material given. Douglas Sills and Sara Gettelfinger have strong, clear voices as Gomez and Morticia and Cortney Wolfson gives a solid performance as Wednesday. Blake Hammond's Uncle Fester is way over the top, especially in "The Moon and Me." Brief cameos are made by Thing and Cousin Itt – maybe the show would've improved has they been more involved.
The Addams Family is part of PlayhouseSquare's Smart Seats program. Tickets range from $10 to $87.50. Purchase tickets online at www.playhousesquare.org or by calling the box office at 216.241.6000. The Palace theatre is located at 1615 Euclid Avenue, in the heart of Cleveland's theatre district.
Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel