Review: THE ADDAMS FAMILY at The Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center

Encore Theatre Company show is ghoulish fun thanks to huge ensemble, dazzling sets, and standout performances

By: Jun. 23, 2024
Review: THE ADDAMS FAMILY at The Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center
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There is a certain thing that happens when a roomful of people hear a familiar tune.

They join in. 

At the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, when that familiar TV ditty played and the curtain opened to reveal everyone’s favorite "mysterious, spooky, altogether ooky" brood standing center stage, the excitement was palpable. 

People snapped. Because how can you not? After all, it is this sense of familiarity that gives the musical version of The Addams Family its charm. 

Whether you’re old enough to remember the 1960s television show or you’re a Gen Z-er who’s only seen Jenna Ortega do her masterfully morose representation of the Addams' favorite daughter — watching this quirky tribe of sadists do their thing is like snacking on comfort food. You like it… because you know you already love it. 

What began as a series of single-panel cartoons in the New Yorker between 1938 and 1988, the Addams Family has entertained whole generations with its satirical brand of dark humor. And while 2010's musical incarnation only ran for 20 months on Broadway, it has remained popular in community theater ever since, with Theatrical Rights Worldwide CEO Steve Spiegel calling it one of the company’s “best sellers.”(Last year, the Educational Theatre Association ranked it the number 1 most produced show among U.S. high schools.)

See? Comfort food. 

Review: THE ADDAMS FAMILY at The Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center
Cat Rojo as Wednesday, with ensemble

Encore Theatre Company's one-weekend-only production of The Addams Family, directed by Jacob Nye, has fun with what it has to work with. The scenes are perfectly swathed in Addams’ sophisticated gloom, with a two-story set that allows for gobs of ghoulish ensemble members to populate every part of the stage (with a rotating cast of around 70, the performers do a good job covering their ground). 

There’s a gnarled tree with tendrils curling toward the ceiling. Gravestones lurk in thick layers of fog. Whole rooms pull out from the sides to become torture devices. For a community theater production that has to ask its audience for donations at intermission, it’s fantastic .

Addams enthusiasts should know the musical isn’t a recreation of the popular Netflix TV show — or any of the five Addams Family movies (there are three live-action and two animated films), for that matter. Instead, the musical takes place in the family’s future, centering around an 18-year-old Wednesday Addams (played with gusto by Cat Rojo) who has fallen in love. 

The catch? She’s bringing her new, “totally normal” boyfriend, Lucas (played in this performance by Colin FitzMaurice)— and his equally normal parents (played here by Kat Zimmerman and Brent Jasmer)— home to meet the family. Not surprisingly, antics ensue when sunny-spirited  “Ohio-ians” meet the kooky Addams clan.

Review: THE ADDAMS FAMILY at The Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center
Johnny Rodriguez as Gomez

Oh, and Wednesday’s got a secret: She’s engaged! She tells her dad (the charismatic Gomez, played on opening night by Johnny Rodriguez) but wants to keep the secret from Mom. Because who knows what the moody and macabre Morticia Addams (played in this performance by Mickala Jauregui) will do when she finds out. This boy is from Ohio, after all. The horror! 

The lead actors do a good job with their roles: Rodriguez and Jauregui have the requisite debonair chemistry as Morticia and Gomez — their final tango is especially fun to watch. Geoff Lloyd looks astonishingly convincing as the lovable but freaky Uncle Fester, who steals the spotlight when he confesses to being in love with the moon (she herself comes to life in a beautiful ballet scene that feels a bit out of place but is gorgeous nonetheless). And Rojo’s Wednesday captures the right amount of sarcastic ennui mixed with deep-dark sweetness; not to mention, she’s got a great voice. 

Review: THE ADDAMS FAMILY at The Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center
Geoff Lloyd and Sarah Wizemann as Fester and the Moon

But it is the peripheral characters who really stand out here. Grandma Addams, played in this performance by Mara Delgadillo, conveyed the perfect amount of looney with her frizzled gray hair and wheelbarrow garden of hallucinogenic herbs. She’s like the “Weird Barbie” of the show, in the best way possible. 

Pugsley, played by middle schooler Maddie Kim in this performance, was also a standout. With stage presence galore, she had a way of making all of Pugsley’s talk of sibling torture seem somehow sweet. Lurch, the zombie butler, also gets huge props for his epic charades-like monologue of pure grunts. 

As for the ensemble, it’s massive, with more than 60 performers playing The Ancestors (they’re the spooky folks in the background belting out the chorus or dancing alongside the “living” in all the musical numbers).  The music is fun, though not entirely memorable—exceptions being "One Normal Night" and "Full Disclosure," both of which are brought to life with the help of the talented ensemble. 

Review: THE ADDAMS FAMILY at The Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center Kudos to choreographer Katelyn Martin, who has her hands full with the huge cast — many of whom are just kids and new to theater. All of the dance numbers are flawlessly executed by even the youngest of performers. The costumes also hit the right note: Think Haunted Mansion chic mixed with Corpse Bride sophistication.  

And then there’s the story.  When The Addams Family debuted on Broadway in 2010, the New York Times called it a “tepid goulash of vaudeville song-and-dance routines, Borscht Belt jokes, stingless sitcom zingers, and homey romantic plotlines.” 

And while it’s true that the show lacks the emotional punch of Broadway faves like Dear Evan Hansen or Les Miserables — or the catchy pop hits of Tony winners like Hamilton or Moulin Rouge — Addams Family is, at its core, simple and digestible fun. It offers bite-sized pieces of nostalgia by way of vibrant dance scenes and an easy-to-follow (if a tad shallow) storyline. 

Take it from the audience on the show's opening performance in Redondo Beach. By the final curtain call, the whole audience was clapping along to that snappy Addams Family tune. Because... how could they not? 

They're creepy and they're kooky

Mysterious and spooky

They're altogether ooky

The Addams family.

*Photos by Lauren Kim/ Encore South Bay


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