Theater Review: "The Addams Family" At The Pantages
Yes, a stage musical of “The Addams Family” exists (and has since 2010). But as I always say, don’t judge a musical by its…comic? While “The Addams Family” is not exactly an original concept for a musical, unlike many musicals-based-on-movies-and-other-media today, “The Addams Family” musical has an original story.
Wednesday Addams (Cortney Wolfson), the “charming, irrepressible bundle of malice” has grown up and fallen in love with Lucas Beineke (Brian Justin Crum), who Wednesday’s parents have never met. After confiding in her father, Gomez (Douglas Sills), Wednesday begs that he not tell her mother. And if there’s one thing that Gomez has never done, it’s keep a secret from his wife Morticia (Sara Gettelfinger). Needless to say, things get a little more than “kooky” when the Addams Family hosts a dinner for Wednesday’s “normal” boyfriend and his parents.
Probably the strongest suits of “The Addams Family” are its set (Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch) and puppetry (Basil Twist). While the original set could not transfer to the tour (for portability’s sake), the direction for the tour’s set was efficient and creative. Scenes transitioned flawlessly with the use of curtains for framing each scene. The puppetry was inventive and fun with surprises that fits the essence of the Addams Family perfectly.
A note for those who are familiar with the show as it existed in New York: about 3/4 of the original Broadway version of the show was changed for the tour in terms of story and songs (and rightfully so!). The cast, it seems, also took some liberties to deviate from the approaches the original Broadway cast took (as well as the approaches of the original TV show adaptation of the comic). While some of the acting choices worked, others did not.
Sills (Gomez), with his strong comedic timing, physical energy, and ability to balance comedy and sentiment, carries most of the weight of the show with ease. Meanwhile, Gettelfinger (Morticia) is a decent performer, but her inconsistency with Morticia’s trademark calm, deadpan, and never smiling demeanor makes it difficult to appreciate her performance. Pippa Pearthree (Grandma) does not do her role justice with her “cutesy” approach; many jokes—and opportunities for jokes—fell flat. Blake Hammond (Uncle Fester) pulls his weight with strong comedic choices that help bring audience members to chuckles and guffaws.
As someone who grew up with the original '60s live action and the '90s cartoon adaptations of “The Addams Family,” I personally have a strong interest and desire to see the musical adaptation play true to its essence and succeed (before I saw both versions, I was both excited and very skeptical). And I would say that, given the changes that it went through, it is much better. Even though it still has some tweaks that could be fixed, “The Addams Family” musical has come a long way.
Reach Contributor Liffany here.