BWW Review: Candlelight's Treat for Halloween: a Delicious ADDAMS FAMILY
The Addams Family/book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice/music & lyrics by Andrew Lippa/based on characters created by Charles Addams/directed by Chuck Ketter/Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre, Claremont/through November 24
The Addams Family, whose Broadway run was clouded with negative reviews and less than powerful performances from its two talented stars Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, is receiving a handsome revival at Candlelight Pavilion.. Director Chuck Ketter puts the kooky Addams Family through their diliriously divergent moves through November 24.
With sharp references from writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice to the issues of today ... for example, health care - that nobody gets - or on a more personal level, to a sense of true love between Gomez (Johnny Fletcher) and Morticia (Erica Marie Weisz) and for their two children Wednesday (Amanda Minano) and Pugsley (Michael Gallo), the darkly fascinating script takes fantasy to a more realistic level, making it even more of a curiosity to watch an atypical family try to function in a so-called normal world. But define normal, please! In today's world, it no longer exists, so I loved seeing the creepy Addams clan accepted as the friendly neighbors next door.
Fletcher really gets the guy.next.door quality of Gomez. He makes the issues at hand lighthearted, never pushing or making Morticia or the audience feel too perplexed or uncomfortable. Weisz is beautiful and adds sophistication and charm to the no-nonsense Morticia. Greg Nicholas is a very likable Uncle Fester, the genius in love with the moon. Mitch Stark, with next to no speech, is uniquely attuned to the introverted, almost mechanically mobile Lurch. Minano is just right as Wednesday, the little girl who appreciates being crazy, but yearns to belong outside of her clan. This little lady has a terrific voice and is a real standout. Gallo puts his own stamp on the chubby confused Pugsley, who welcomes fatal aggression and torture as natural boyhood traits. Wilcove completes the affable Addamses as the deliciously feisty Grandma. The Beineke family are all fun with Debbie Prutsman as the over.the.top Alice. "Waiting", in which she sheds all inhibition for loving, is her big number at the dinner table. Equally on target are Jim Skousen as Mal and Colby Rummel as Wednesday's beau Lucas. The chorus of ghoulish ancestors vibrantly come back to life producing choreographer Kirklyn Robinson's fast and furious dance moves. Ketter's touches as director include brisk pacing and uber smooth staging from top to bottom. Ketter does double duty also designing the very creepy mausoleum-like manse. The Theatre Company has provided the fine eery costuming.
I am not particularly crazy for Andrew Lippa's lackluster score, except for "The Moon and Me" for Fester and "Tango de Amor" for Morticia and Gomez. Brickman's and Elice's book is amusing enough to keep the audience riveted and entertained in spite of the corny one-liners. The Addams Family is a walk down memory lane for those who faithfully watched the TV sitcom in the 60s or the movie, and for those that didn't, it doesn't matter, Think "Move Toward the Darkness" and you'll savor every off-center moment of this delightfully 'normal' abnormal family.
As always, Act One at Candlelight is the scrumptious dinner served with a smile. The wait staff are all friendly and efficient, delivering your meal piping hot to your table. The slow roasted tri-tip is a favorite, especially the Bollinger Cut for a mere $5.95 more. There is also Grilled Tilapia on their menu as well as a Marinated Chicken Breast and Vegetarian Pockets. For every show there are special $6 drinks. This time around I tried the Querida Sangria and as an after dinner coffee Smokin' Gomez. Both ultra delicious!
Next up is the original holiday show Perfect Christmas beginning November 30. It will be another holiday treat for Candlelight customers, so reserve early!
(photo credit: Demetrios Katsantonis)