The Addams Family, originally written by Charles Addams, delighted the 1960s television viewers with their unapologetic teasing of middle America. The musical, The Addams Family, Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa, the joke continues in the spirit and costuming of the original show.
From the first moments of the music the audience joins in with Thing, who by the way plays himself his identity remains a mystery, comes out of his box, happily conducting the audiences’ snaps. Dadada-dum, snap, snap, dadada-dum, snap, snap…. You get the idea. Unless you are under 20 or from a different country you either saw The Addams Family show or reruns, everyone knows that tune. And so the fun begins. Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre was gloriously cool that early August day when I got to see it. This is a wonderful family show! Bring the kids, there is something for everyone.
The casting is spot on! Set in a mansion in the middle of Central Park New York, the gothic home is worn, torture chambers still fully functional and we go from indoor to outside with the help of some very versatile ensemble members. This ensemble was made up of the Addams family ancestors who would not be able to go back to their eternal resting places until Wednesday was happy. They all come out to sing “When You’re an Adams.”
This is a wonderful family show! Bring the kids, there is something for everyone.
An outdoor venue certainly has some surprises for the audience and the cast as well when nature, music, live theater and choreography mix. Music was live and on this small stage; David Merrill had his work cut out for him. Usually music is in a pit but in this production Merrill was not able to see the performers because all the musicians were behind the stage.
Wednesday Addams, played by the vivacious Lucy Bobbin, is in love with a young man from a family so normal, so bland, so everything her family is not, and guess who is coming for dinner? All she wants is “One Normal Night” and she begs her family and dead ancestors just pretend to be ordinary. She dazzles the audience with both powerful and dulcet soprano voice and baby she can dance too! Ms. Bobbin’s performance is purely joyous to watch. The song “Crazier than You” had the audience in an uproar! Her expressive teenage tantrums remind us that while sure she might have been raised by ghouls she is still your all American girl.
Veteran Annapolis actor Vince Musgrave loves his eccentric family. He has a full baritone voice and an elegance that makes him perfect to play the show’s macho sword carrying Spaniard patriarch, Gomez Addams. His close to perfect Gomez accent and desire to keep everyone happy is just how I remember the Gomez of the television show. He adores his wife Morticia played by Alicia Sweeney. The plot thickens as Gomez is asked to keep information from Morticia to whom he has never lied. Morticia’s relationship with her teen-aged daughter is being tested as Morticia and all the Addams’ believe that they are normal and the outsiders are bizarre. Gomez and Morticia tango towards the end of the show, and Nikki Gerbasie, the costume designer has Morticia’s skin tight long gown magically become a sexy dancing frock within 3 seconds! Grandma, played by Ginny White is like everyone else’s grandmother with the exception that occasionally she whips up a potion or two. Granny has great moves too! Pugsley Addams played by the slim 8th grader Matthew Beagan is hilarious. We see him as the bratty brother looking for attention within an outlandish family structure. He enjoys being tortured by his sister and is in fear that this new young man will ruin his fun. His comedic timing and voice are perfect for the part and the props are definitely medieval.
Uncle Fester played by the always hilarious Eric Meadows is also in love, but not with anyone that can come to dinner, he is in love with the moon. Yes, lunatic does come to mind. His song “The Moon and Me” is choreographed beautifully by Jamie Miller. The choreography in general is very complex especially given the constraints of the stage. Finding someone 6’6″ to play Lurch, that can also sing in a small community could have been daunting, however Steve Streetman fills those enormous shoes well. Grunting during the entire first act, at the end Mr. Streetman demonstrates he is not just a giant zombie, he can sing and dance. And while he does not possess the deep growly bass voice of our TV Lerch, Mr. Streetman’s voice is luscious. I prefer my monsters to be baritones anyway!
So Wednesday’s love Lucas Beineke, played by Daniel Starnes, brings his very “normal” family to dinner. His mother Alice Beineke, played by Andrea Ostrowski Wildason dressed in “E-gads” canary yellow, sticks out against the Addams basic black. She is the unintended victim of a potion meant for Wednesday when she reaches for a drink. Always rhyming our conservative bundle of “mother knows best” becomes a wild animal. And this is when our most unexpected hilarious moment comes in, for just as Alice passes out while crawling over the dinner table, who comes in? Why it is the wind. And it not so gracefully uncovers Alice. Gomez reaches for his sword and in a manner so gentle, so perfect flicks her skirt and crinoline back where it should be. I, as well as the cast loved that moment! Ahhh live theater! Alice’s husband Mal Beineke, played by Jim Reiter, plays an American “stick in the mud” father. He is the most normal on the stage, but because of the outlandish antics of the rest of the cast, he seems positively bizarre.
Of course we have a happy ending, and I left the theater with a song in my heart. Then of course my husband had to listen to me sing “Crazier Than You” for the rest of the evening. And like a good husband, he agreed!
Running Time: 2:45 minutes with a 20 minute intermission.
The Addams Family plays through Sunday, September 6, 2015 at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre – 143 Compromise Street, in Annapolis, MD. For tickets, order them online.