Book: Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice
Music and Lyrics: Andrew Lippa
Director: Matthew White
Choreographer: Alistair David
Reviewer: Scarlet Wildhorn
Originally created by cartoonist Charles Addams, the Addams Family are a satirical and ghoulish group of characters that make up a happily dysfunctional family. They are perfectly content with their passion for all things dark and macabre. The original Broadway production opened in 2010 before a revised version began touring North America in 2011. The musical has come a long way since then, with a number of significant changes to the orchestrations, characters, and narrative, and has toured extensively worldwide prior to this first ever UK tour.
Beginning at the gates to the Addams family residence, the narrative follows a grown-up Wednesday Addams (Carrie Hope Fletcher), who has fallen in love with Lucas Beineke (Oliver Ormson), a nice young man from Ohio. Fletcher is superb as the kooky daughter, her belting voice and ever-increasing enthusiasm for sadism, a killer combination. A fantastic chemistry is shared with Ormson; the way they play off each other and work together oozes with a genuine connection between the two actors.
In an attempt to introduce the two polar opposite families, Wednesday requests one normal night, in the form of a dinner engagement. Of course, things don’t go to plan (but where would be the fun in that?), as secrets are kept, secrets revealed, torture ensues, Uncle Fester falls in love with our nearest celestial body, and a bout of poisoning is added for good measure.
Cameron Blakely has impeccable comic timing as the eccentric and charming Spaniard, Gomez. An intelligent and hilarious performance from Blakely, but perhaps one of the biggest surprises is Samantha Womack, who plays the sultry matriarch, Morticia Addams. A second storyline is woven around Morticia and Gomez’s love for each other, and how keeping secrets can ultimately destroy a marriage. But really, when you think about it, Morticia and Gomez have a pretty perfect relationship, in their own kooky way. And while a disappointed sigh rose from the audience at the announcement that Les Dennis was indisposed, understudy Scott Paige proved that the disappointment was unwarranted in a completely endearing and compelling performance. And boy can he sing. (more, please?)
The costumes and attention to detail are splendid throughout. From Wednesday’s coffin backpack to the muted pastel costumes of the ancestors making them appear more spectral, and Morticia’s flowing gown allowing her to glide across the stage, this production ticks all the boxes when it comes to visual impact. Even the monster in Pugsley’s coffin raises a cheer.
The set (Diego Pitarch) is functional and visually very appealing, despite the premise of it being set in an ancient, dilapidated house. There is some clever lighting (Ben Cracknell) which enables the portraits to come to life, and of course, there are torture devices, including a rack (commonly considered the most painful type of medieval torture) and a rather deadly chair, where lying is discouraged in true Addams family style.
Some of the scenes are a little tongue in cheek, but this is a production that can get away with it. With clever quips and catchy songs, The Addams Family is definitely worth a visit, especially as the nights close in and Halloween draws near.
Runs until 23 September 2017 | Image: Contributed