BWW Review: THE ADDAMS FAMILY, New Wimbledon Theatre
Since its first publication as a comic strip in 1938, The Addams Family has seen many incarnations, but did not become a musical until it launched on Broadway in 2010. Now the quirky comedy based on Jersey Boys writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice's book, combined with Tony Award-nominated Andrew Lippa's brilliantly crafted music and lyrics, has its UK premiere.
Less creepy and more kooky, this musical comedy version of Charles Addams's cartoon sees the family struggle to adapt when daughter Wednesday falls in love with a 'normal' boy. When his family are invited over for dinner, secrets are revealed and chaos ensues.
The characters are instantly recognisable and need no introduction. Cameron Blakely's Gomez is fantastic: passionate, effusive and with a very amusing touch of campness. He has the most work to do, as he is almost constantly on stage, but he has a buzzing energy and the relationship we see develop between him and Wednesday is particularly touching.
Samantha Womack's Morticia is suitably stiff and often surprisingly funny, but lacks a little haughtiness and relies too much on her holding her arms out to the sides in one of Morticia's trademark poses.
Carrie Hope Fletcher, fresh from her success as Eponine in Les Miserables, carries the best vocals of the show. Her rendition of "Pulled" is rewarded with some of the loudest cheers of the night. She has a very clear and fresh projection, with great diction, despite the thick American accent. It remains a mystery what the appeal of clean cut all-American Lucas, played by Oliver Ormson, is to Wednesday, but their relationship doesn't have to totally convincing to add to the plot.
Entertainment favourite Les Dennis must have an inexhaustible supply of throat sweets, adopting the raspy and occasionally breaking voice of Uncle Fester. His character remains underdeveloped and underused, but Dennis revels in the quirkiness of the role.
The new additions of an ordinary family are less successful; Charlotte Page has a great voice as mother Alice, but her habit of speaking in rhyme quickly becomes annoying. Oliver Ormson's Lucas comes across as somewhat whiney and his father, played by Dale Rapley is lacking in vocal oomph compared to many others in the cast.
The production looks a treat. Diego Pitarch's innovative, multi-layered set design features constantly changing scenes, where portraits come alive on the staircase and 'Thing' slides out of a letterbox. This all complimented with suitably spooky lighting and cleverly timed sound effects. Costumes and makeup are elaborate and appropriately gothic. In particular, the outfits of the Addams Ancestors, a group of long-dead characters from the family's history, are fantastically detailed.
Andrew Lippa's music shows great variety and appeal; many of the numbers include the whole company, which works well and adds to the energy of the show. The manic "Full Disclosure" at the end of Act 1, played out around a long banqueting table lets many cast members shine and is incredibly catchy.
Alistair David's complimentary choreography is high energy and slick execution. The opening number of "When You're An Addams" is the perfect start to the show, demonstrating perfect timing and co-ordination.
This is a comedy that is genuinely funny, with some acerbic asides about Trump and the US Election. There is a lot of visual comedy, but it is all gentle and inoffensive. The appeal of the production is that it is suitable for theatregoers of any age.
Photo Credit: Matt Martin