BWW Review: THE ADDAMS FAMILY at Playhouse Merced

BWW Review: THE ADDAMS FAMILY at Playhouse Merced

Playhouse Merced has always been a little Kooky. And if their last few seasons have shown anything, it's that the company does not mind an occasional move toward the darkness in its fall-time programming. For Halloween 2016, Merced welcomes "The Addams Family" (snap snap), an altogether ooky cast of characters.

The 2010 Broadway musical played to an enthusiastic, sold-out crowd Saturday evening. Its script is humorous and knowing, and director Robert Hypes pulls each witty jest in clever new directions. Scenic designs by Corey Strauss add to the fun with balconies, hidden compartments and a pronounced entryway door. As the show begins, Uncle Fester calls on the Addams Family Ancestors to help his niece in her lovesick identity crisis. Wednesday Addams has invited Lucas Beinke and his parents to dinner, but worries her own family may not meet the Beinke's "normal" standards. Confiding in her father and insisting the dinner go on, Wednesday brings dividing secrets to the Addams mansion, setting in motion the wacky - and at times entirely touching - situations to follow.

Madison Mitchell and Baylor Browning (Wednesday and Lucas) reflect teenage angst, romance and insecurity. The young high school students continue to prove their growing talent after an excellent job performing the roles of Amber and Link in Merced's "Hairspray." Another budding talent, Steven Burkum, lends a pure voice to Wednesday's jealous brother, Pugsley. Steven is clearly taking after his own father, Andrew Burkum, who steals the show as Fester. His ballad to the moon has a great surprise that I won't reveal here. Other memorable characters include Jessica Dimpel's Grandma - who may or may not be a part of the family, Chris Battisti's mumbling Lurch, and Bethy Harmelin's Alice Beinke - who has a curious knack for rhyming.

Dianne Kocher and Corey Strauss tango their way across the dance floor as Morticia and Gomez Addams, one with deadly expression, the other vibrant and unpredictable. Morticia admonishes the monster under Pugsley's bed to watch over her son, while Gomez laments his joy and sadness upon realizing his little girl has grown up. Costume designer Kat Strauss adds personality to Gomez's pinstriped suit with eccentric cravats. Morticia, too, receives refreshing variations on her trademark black dress (cut down to Venezuela). The remaining creative elements - morbid lighting and a live orchestra - complete this crowd-pleasing production. As Gomez asks Morticia, so we also ask the audience:"Are you unhappy?" And we answer, "Yes. Completely."


Playhouse Merced
Through October 30

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From This Author Harmony Wheeler

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