Music &Lyrics: Andrew Lippa
Book: Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
Directer: Lee Rosher &Kate Ross
Reviewer: Mark Clegg
Starting as single-panel comic gags in the New Yorker, Charles Addams’ creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky characters came to prominence in the memorable ‘60s TV series and later in a couple of hit movies in the ‘90s. It is surprising that it has taken so long for this property to have a musical written for it, and after a relatively successful run on Broadway in 2010, The Addams Family musical appears in the UK initially exclusive for performance by amateur groups. This production by Nice Swan Theatre Company is one of the first to be staged this side of the Atlantic and can lay claim to being the UK’s ‘Northern Premier’.
Wednesday Addams (Carly Burns) has fallen in love with a ‘normal’ young man, Lucas (Glen Townsend) and the plot machinations spring from the clashes between and within the two disparate families who come together for a meal in the Addams family home. The show has been slightly rewritten from the Broadway version and anyone familiar with the cast recording will notice various changes to the score although the main songs are all still present, correct and relatively unchanged.
As the passionate parents of Wednesday, Dale Jewitt and Jessica Brady as Gomez and Morticia are very well cast. Jewitt shows range in a rôle that demands both broad comedy and sincerity, as well as displaying impressive singing and dancing abilities. Brady makes the most of the vampish Morticia and clearly is enjoying herself with her rendition of ‘Just Around the Corner’ being a vocal highlight. Burns nails Wednesday’s ghoulish personality with good use of physical characterisation and Glen infuses Lucas with genuine warmth. The rest of the cast are equally talented with special mention to Jacob Anderton who steals every scene as Lurch, and Bethany Walker as Lucas’ mother Alice – a brilliantly nuanced performance.
As good as the cast is, the piece does not give them enough to work with. The script has some good one-liners but fails to be anything other than mildly amusing, while conversely it does not command any real emotional investment from the audience (with the exception of a surprisingly sweet ballad to the moon beautifully performed by David Hopper’s Fester). The principle musical numbers would perhaps benefit from a less static style of direction, as it does seem like a missed opportunity for further character development.
The cast handle the technically challenging score very well despite the tempos being a little laboured at times. The costumes are excellent and totally fitting with the expectations of an audience so familiar with the characters, while the set is beautifully constructed and the stage management slick. The lighting and sound design is equally creative although press night was marred by issues with slow follow spots and missed mic cues – gremlins that are sure to be exorcised for subsequent performances.
This visually arresting production was certainly well received by its enthusiastic opening night audience. The Addams Family may be ‘all together ooky’ but all of the elements of this production combined to create a frighteningly entertaining evening.
Runs until: Saturday 12th April