BWW Review: THE ADDAMS FAMILY, Bristol Hippodrome
There's been a bit of a resurgence of the comedy horror musical format over the past few months. With The Toxic Avenger returning to London after a successful run at Southwark Playhouse (and in Edinburgh), Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein about to open at the Garrick Theatre and even the full-throttle fright-fest The Exorcist promising to scare the bejesus out of audiences next month, there seems to be a real appetite for the macabre.
But there's one ghoulish production that's been entertaining the masses away from the capital, and that's The Addams Family. The new production opened at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh in April before embarking on a national tour. The show has crept into Bristol this week, and the intervening months of development after its initial opening have ensured the production has gone from strength to strength.
Since my last viewing at the New Wimbledon Theatre back in May, this version of Andrew Lippa's musical (which was first performed on Broadway in 2010) has really tightened up and the cast - who were already strong - have grown into their character portrayals.
We meet the fiendish family in a bit of a state as Wednesday (Carrie Hope Fletcher) has fallen for a 'normal' boy (Oliver Ormson). The revelation is something she knows will offend her mother Morticia (Samantha Womack) and so she confides in her father Gomez (Cameron Blakely). But the secret threatens to derail the family unit.
Carrie Hope Fletcher proves why she is one of the most acclaimed performers in the UK at the moment, with a great portrayal of the troubled teen Wednesday - perfectly portrayed the engulfment of young love, while balancing the difficulties her loyalty to her family pose.
Charismatic and captivating, her strong vocals (particularly in "Pulled") work well with her boisterous persona, a characteristic visibly softened by the arrival of Ormson, who plays the preppy youngster Lucas with great aplomb.
In perfect juxtaposition, the more mature couple - consisting of Blakely's mesmerising Gomez and Womack's majestic Morticia - wonderfully illustrates the way a relationship develops over the years, and their chemistry is hypnotic, particularly during their tango number in Act Two.
There's bags of comedy too, from the dastardly Pugsley (played by Grant McIntyre), muddled mother-in-law Alice Beineke (played with real verve by Charlotte Page) and Uncle Fester - who was given great gusto by Scott Paige on the evening I attended. Paige added a huge amount of comedic flair to the brooding ogre as well as giving an outstanding vocal performance in his love ballad "The Moon and Me".
What's great about this show however, is its core: the themes of acceptance, of being true to yourself and the complexities of human relationships, which are cleverly maneuvered into the book by Rick Elice and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. The song "Happy Sad" perfectly sums it up; there's lots of outlandish humour mixed in with the touching reality and emotion of life.
With a cleverly layered paranormal set design by Diego Pitarch and a buoyant ensemble, the show is also a visual treat, and there are some comical illusions mixed with exciting effects to create a tasteful backdrop to the legendary graveyard.