BWW Reviews: THE ADDAMS FAMILY Moves into the Majestic
They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, they're altogether ooky, the Addams Family. I bet you just sang that in your head as you read it, am I right? You maybe event went back to read it again, snapping your fingers through the imaginary iconic musical intro to one of the most memorable television show theme songs in history.
Currently on stage at the Majestic Theatre is a musical version of the cherished gothic family comedy, THE ADDAMS FAMILY. The gang's all here - family patriarch and passionate lover Gomez (Jesse Sharp), his hypnotizingly beautiful wife Morticia (KeLeen Snowgren), their dark and disturbed children Wednesday (Jennifer Fogarty) and Pugsley (Sam Primack/Jeremy Todd Shinder), odd but earnest Uncle Fester (Shaun Rice), Lurch the butler (Dan Olson), and Grandma (Amanda Bruton). Even Thing and Cousin It make cameo appearances. And rest assured, you'll be unable to resist snapping along when that theme song kick starts the musical.
However, I'm sad to say, that will be one of the few moments you're compelled to truly enjoy. Now, don't get me wrong. THE ADDAMS FAMILY is a fun musical with a very positive message (define "normal"), but it's not much more than that. The show's composer and lyricist, Andrew Lippa, did what he could with the weak plot he was provided. The songs are fun, and the show has its moments, often the result of scene stealing secondary characters, but it left me wanting something more...meaty to sink my teeth into. I file THE ADDAMS FAMILY under my "tourist" category of musicals - shows that do/did well as the result of a) tourism or b) pop culture familiarity - a category that includes other shows such as Mamma Mia!, Cats, Chicago, and Rock of Ages. Does it make for a fun night out? Sure (generally speaking). Does it leave a more serious theatre-goer's palate satisfied? Sadly, not even close.
That being said, the show's message is a positive and important one. It makes you recognize that no matter how whacky they are, the Addams Family is not much different than a normal family - because really, what IS normal? Perhaps the Addamses have slightly darker interests in life (and death), but at second look, you see they are far from dysfunctional. In fact, I think most couples can only hope to have a relationship as healthy, open, and passionate as that of Gomez and Morticia. And on the other side of the coin, the Beineke Family (brought in as the main plot device and whose names actually create the word 'malice,' quite ironically) is so painfully "normal" that they make you want to bang your head against the wall. Maybe that play on words with their first names (Mal and Alice) isn't so ironic after all.
Are both the Addams and Beineke families highly caricaturized? Definitely. But it only proves the point that "normal" is suggestive and maybe - just maybe - what many of us think is "normal" could be undesirably banal.
THE ADDAMS FAMILY is playing at the Majestic Theatre through May 12. Tickets are available at the theatre box office and on Ticketmaster.com.