The Addams Family – Theatre Royal, Nottingham

Reviewer: Kerrie Walters

Book: Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice

Music and Lyrics: Andrew Lippa

Director: Matthew White

This beautifully designed production brings to life the characters that we all know and love from the 1990’s movies in musical format. The construction of the visual aesthetic pulls largely from classical art and is visually stunning.

Everything from the wonky slatted doors on the towers to the rusted yet flamboyant metal gate has been thought out with meticulous attention to detail in Diego Pitarch’s set design. The costume and wig designs have also been extremely well put together for this production, always keeping that classical art design in mind. The ensemble ghosts manifest themselves throughout the show as visual art, their heavy and exaggerated face makeup looking as if it were applied to an oil canvas. Indeed, throughout the show, they take turns to pose as artwork in the gorgeously backlit painting on the back wall of the set. Each taking a pose in a different time and genre: we have a Tudor lady, a Giselle, a matador, a warrior, a viking, a Roman emperor and a ringmaster ancestor, each grotesquely beautiful in appearance. This subtle approach to atmospheric design really adds visual intrigue to the action as it unfolds onstage.

The musical centres around Wednesday, the elder daughter of the Addams, who has met Lucas, the boy whom she intends to marry. The narrative revolves around Lucas and his parents meeting the family for the first time and the Addams family acting ‘normal’ at Wednesday’s request. Specifically, the goal is to obtain the approval of Morticia (Joanne Clifton), the matriarch of the Addams family.

Uncle Fester (Scott Paige) helps his niece by refusing to allow the ancestral ghosts back into the crypt at the end of the opening number, When You’re An Addams, until they agree to help Wednesday to obtain Morticia’s approval. Performing the function of a Greek chorus, the ghosts watch the plot unfold from privileged viewpoints around the set. They also set the pace of the action with high energy dance numbers. In addition, they also create some truly captivating tableaux: in particular, the pagan formation with sticks during Crazier Than You is very pleasing to the eye.

The high energy song Full Disclosure set alongside Morticia’s drinking game is bright, quirky and funny. The ghostly ancestors are highly animated with Alistair David’s explosive kooky choreography in perfect juxtaposition with the two families sitting very still around the dinner table. Also during this scene, Kara Lane as Alice delivers a captivating rendition of Waiting,showcasing a flawless vocal range as well as a powerful aptitude for physical comedy. After Pugsley (Grant Mcintyre) inadvertently gives Alice a potion intended for Wednesday that would ‘turn Mary Poppins into Medea’, Lane handles with laser precision the transition from the stifled yet sunny Alice, who always wears sunshine yellow and talks in rhyming couplets, to a straight-talking ‘free’ Alice who acts only on impulse.

At one point, the dinner party is interrupted with a balletic tornado sequence. This comprises sublimely composed movement with a mixture of stop-motion freeze frames and half-paced movement executed with complete control.

Joanne Clifton takes on the role of Morticia with breath-taking poise and exceptional physicality. Her command of the stage fits comfortably and she is a nice fit for this role. As a former Strictly winner, she shines during the tango routines and she has good chemistry with Cameron Blakely’s Gomez.

Blakely portrays Gomez as a fiercely loyal and dedicated father and husband. He manages to play the part in an altogether more human way than Raul Julia ever managed within the movie adaptations. His comic timing, coupled with his insanely powerful voice, makes him the perfect leading man for this musical.

Lurch, the family butler is an integral part of the action. In a largely silent role except for a few grunts here and there and a showstopping number in the final scene, Dickon Gough gives a masterclass in physical characterisation. Everything from his facial expressions to his stance, pace and hand placement is woven into the fabric of this character and brought into performance. The glacial speed of his walk, as well as his physical height, makes for some excellent comedic moments.

Paige brings Uncle Fester brilliantly to life. He takes on the narration of the show, controls the chorus of ghosts and regularly breaks the fourth wall.

The choreography within the show has been as meticulously thought out as the visual design, mixing circus-like movement with classical ballet and traditional Spanish and Latin dances. This mismatch of classical dance, art and music is the perfect metaphorical representation of the family themselves who are definitely out of place living in modern-day central New York.

Runs until 13 November 2021 and touring

The Reviews Hub Score

Spooky, Wacky, Superb

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The Reviews Hub - Central

The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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