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BWW Review: THE ADDAMS FAMILY at Hale Center Theatre


Full Disclosure: THE ADDAMS FAMILY at Hale Center Theatre is one spellbinding show

BWW Review: THE ADDAMS FAMILY at Hale Center Theatre

The amazing thing about live theatre that this reviewer has always loved is the magic moment when the cast kicks into high gear, the jokes all land just right, and the realization of an intermission is a cherished moment to breathe and take in the greatness you've witnessed. In those times, audience and actor are entangled, riding the beautiful wave we call theatre. THE ADDAMS FAMILY at Hale Center Theatre in Glendale, AZ did exactly that on their opening night, giving their audience exactly what was needed to continue snapping with them until the final bow.

If you are unfamiliar with THE ADDAMS FAMILY (which I couldn't imagine based on its long history, deeply rooted into pop culture), it follows a creepy, kooky, mysterious, spooky, and all together ooky, family. Without giving the entire story away, after someone gets secretly engaged, the two get their respective families together for dinner, pleading separately for them to have one normal night. Proceeding a game played after dinner, lines are drawn, as inner most secrets are shared and both families scramble and scuffle in the hopes of finding their personal semblance of normalcy. The cast takes this story and soars with it, with vocally amazing talents throughout and comedy that keeps you laughing obnoxiously.

Out of the gate, Tim Dietlein's lighting is great, opening the night with an amazing light show. The lighting in each song brought depth and drama into scenes, and although there were a few off moments with performers out of light, none of them were distracting. However, there seemed to be a technical malfunction with the projectors not fully being covered that did pull my attention from stage. Luckily, the majority of these instances were during set changes, so although I felt pulled out of the show, I do not feel that it caused me to miss any beautiful moments. Tia Hawks truly pulled off some witchcraft with these magnificent costumes. Although I was drawn to the red smokers jacket Gomez wore as I still secretly scheme a way to steal it, the true showstopper was Morticia's Dresses. They were magnificent and made me slightly envious of her skills.

Cambrian James and Lincoln Wright make a brilliant duo as always as Director/Choreographer and Music Director respectfully. Always the technician, Cambrian brings choreography that the actors move through with the nearest to flawlessness we mortals could approach. It is also easy to see the mark Lincoln left musically. Beautiful harmonies and tight vocal moments Kept my ears perked throughout. This pair is always guaranteed to keep audiences moving in their seats.

I overheard an audience member say their dream in life was to be a Hale Center Theatre ensemble member. Based on the beautiful performance put on by the ancestors, which I dubbed the Greek Chorus of movement, throughout the show, I can definitely see why they said what they said. Olivia Woodward-Shaw, Olivia Porter, Joshua South, Albert Johnson, Makenna Jacobs, Stephine Funk, Riley Clark, and Daniel Barges grip the audience with beautiful movement and vocal harmonies. Raymond Barcelo nearly steals the show as Uncle Fester. It is easy to find yourself anxiously waiting for Raymond's next Fester moment, especially since it seems every moment he places on stage is gold.

With Suze St. John out opening weekend because of an emergency, Kathleen Richards steps in with an immaculate performance as Grandma. Always the professional, Kathleen Learned this show and was performance ready in three days, taking the stage with flawless execution and hilarious moments. Daniel Lopez was great as the elegantly incoherent Lurch, providing the audience with a stunning surprise at the end. Luke Chester is very funny as Pugsley, the youngest member of the Addams Family.

Mychal Leverage brings down the house, spreading infectious laughter throughout the theatre in the round as Gomez Addams. Portraying the Addams patriarch, Mychal comedically drives the show, causing huge pauses for laughs and rightfully so. Amanda Valenzuela, playing the Addams matriarch Morticia, is pure perfection, bringing justice to the characters stoic persona. There are a few moments where you can see Amanda bring out her inner Anjelica Huston, truly reveling in the dark comedic moments of the role. Heidi-Liz Johnson and Adam Guinn play opposite each other as Alice and Mal Beineke. The two have wonderful on-stage chemistry that only enhanced the awkwardness of this "normal" family. Adam's Mal is the no nonsense conservative husband and father, until the moment arrives for him to break free, which he does in the funniest way possible. Heidi impeccably embodies every role she takes on, and Alice is no exception. From the awkward rhyming mother to the admitted deprived housewife when her inhibitions are dropped, Heidi's Alice is an immediate draw. Holly Payne and Jake Ashton make for a captivating pair as Wednesday Addams and Lucas Beineke, which is plain as day during their duet "Crazier Than You". Holly stays true to the crossbow clad Wednesday, with powerful vocals keeping the audience in awe.

It is always refreshing to see a cast that just digs into the magic and gives their all to their audience. This production is a product of not only a fully invested cast, but as well a fully invested audience reciprocating as if apart of the show themselves. It is shows such as these that are a prime example as to why being able to patron and witness theatre live is so important. THE ADDAMS FAMILY at Hale Center Theatre runs until October 2nd. You can find your tickets at

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From This Author Nathaniel Jones