Book: Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
Music and Lyrics: Andrew Lippa
Director: Matthew White
Based upon the original Charles Addams cartoons and having spawned various film and television versions including the hit 1991 film, The Addams Family: The Musical Comedy has a new temporary home at the New Wimbledon Theatre . The ghoulishly dark-humoured Addams, headed up by Morticia (Strictly Come Dancing’s Joanne Clifton) and her husband Gomez (Cameron Blakely), are met with crisis as their daughter Wednesday (Kingsley Morton) starts to show concerning signs of happiness, infatuation, and even love for outsider Lucas (Ahmed Hamad). The Addams Family is a riotous evening of ‘macabre-yet-family’ comedy that brings this much loved American anti-family to life. But just try not to get lost in its narrative labyrinth of clunky musical theatre conventions along the way.
The enormous scale and ambition of this production of The Addams Family is immediately clear from the moment you spot the looming turrets of their family home. Designer Diego Pitarch spookily recreates the sense of wonky gothic architecture associated with the Addams, and has us clicking even before Thing reaches through its letterbox to open the show with When You’re An Addams. The twin balconies give an ironically Shakespearean touch in amongst the cobwebs, reminding us of the star-crossed lovers’ story that we are compelled to come back to, even when something more interesting catches our eye.
Both musically and choreographically, the piece is a complete cacophony of pop references, gags, and pivot turns between styles that are almost perfectly capitalised upon. The Addams Family’s dry and dark wit is the foundation of its hilarity, which, when sharp and specific, are tremendously satisfying. Even physical details such as Morticia’s entrancing hip-swaying shuffle across the stage; Gomez’s swashbuckling; or Lurch’s looming (Dickson Gough) bring real comedic authenticity. The climax of the first act is by far One Normal Night, abounding with power-house vocal performances from the entire cast, which are very satisfyingly blended into a foreboding wall of sound in the auditorium. The orchestra, under musical director Bob Broad with musical supervision and orchestrations by Richard Beadle, is just as transformative as the set in creating this elaborately macabre world.
While Wednesday and Lucas’s conventionally imposed romance is perhaps not the most satisfying or truthfully portrayed aspect of The Addams Family, Morton’s stand-out vocals, delivering numbers such as Pulled and Crazier Than You with enviable and impressive ease, compensate plentifully. Equally, there a plethora of other narratives which are given just as much stage-time — if not the importance — of our young romantic couple which are ripe with entertainment, whether that be Morticia and Gomez’s freshly renewed love-life, Fester’s (Scott Paige) odd love affair, or the question of whether Grandma (Valda Aviks) is quite who she says she is…
Runs until 4 February 2022, continues to tour