Last night I attended the evening performance of the touring production of The Addams Family at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles, CA. I had heard many different reviews from this show in general. That it was funny, that it was dumb, that it was unorganized, that it was inaccurate in representing the original characters. After seeing the show for myself I can safely say that this touring cast is bringing justice to the Addams name.
The Addams Family musical has a very basic story line following the parenting skills of Gomez and Morticia as they deal with their daughter Wednesday’s new found love with “normal” Ohioan Lucas Beineke. This results in Lucas and his parents coming over for dinner to meet the Addams including Grandma, Pugsley, Uncle Fester and Lurch. A seemingly innocent game at dinner turns into a tell-all secrets tragedy that causes every person’s world to turn upside down with the new disclosures. In the end all turns out well, everyone loves everyone and the audience is left with an enjoyable evening of Addams antics.
Douglas Sills (Gomez) and Sara Gettelfinger (Morticia) have really found the perfect nuances and ability to accurately play these famous “lively” characters from the TV show of the same name. Their vocals and comedic timing only add to the comedy that audiences are sure to expect from the Addamses. The two parents play extremely well off each other, with Sills utilizing takes to the audience and silence to really play up the funny dialogue. Gettelfinger has the power of the stare and sarcastic delivery to make an ordinary line into an hilarious bit. However, each find a time to show their Broadway experience and not just play the comedy. Sills’ solo to his daughter Wednesday in “Happy/Sad” is a very tender moment, and Gettelfinger has some fun with “Secrets” when explaining how a marriage is supposed to work.
Blake Hammond (Uncle Fester) has one of the hardest jobs in that he has to make an iconic character work when the writers of the musical have horribly converted his part to the stage. Fester is given awkward moments in which he sometimes narrates to the audience, but these are sporatic and not really well motivated. Then, in act 2 Fester is given “The Moon and Me” which has to be one of the most useless song I have ever seen in a show. Other than giving a fabulous actor a chance to sing, it does nothing for the plot. Hammond does his best to make it adorable, and seeing him elevated on stage is a fun spectacle to watch, but it does not save the awkwardness of the song.
Pippa Pearthree (Grandma) and Patrick D. Kennedy (Pugsley) each have moments of adorable comedy. Pearthree has a wonderful turn in “Full Disclosure” and Kennedy brings the audience to an endearing ‘awwwwwww’ when his song “What If” comes in Act 1. He laments regarding his sister’s new found love, and hopes that that does not interfere with her torturing of him as a sibling. It showcases this young actors’ great voice and mature understanding of making a dramedy (drama-comedy) song work. Tom Corbeil is a memorable Lurch, being a solid mover when the company is engaging in dance in the opening “When You’re an Addams”, and then surprisingly belting out some notes at the end bringing the audience to a well-deserved laughter and applause.
Brian Justin Crum (Lucas Beineke) and Cortney Wolfson (Wednesday) gave the audience a beautiful love story to root for throughout the night. Their pinnacle duet “Crazier Than You” is a well-staged and well-sung number that also bring the Beineke parents (Gaelen Gilliland as Alice and Martin Vidnovic as Mal) a time to shine and rekindle their love as well. However, Wolfson is the true stand out in this production. Her stellar vocals and performance in “Pulled” leave the audience wanting more and more. Every time Wolfson opens her mouth it’s either for a glorious note or a love struck line. She works well with her co-stars and does so with elegance and in true Addams form.
The Ancestors ensemble has their time, but is also another awkward element of the show. Their purpose of the story is to help Wednesday and Lucas fall in love; however, they only fulfill this purpose twice in the show. They are fun to watch in numbers such as “Tango de Amor” and “The Moon and Me” but most of the time are sort of awkwardly just “there” on stage for no real reason. Other times it seems that their presence is forced just so the actors have something to do. At times having the Ancestors takes away from following the point of a song or the story itself.
Overall The Addams Family is worth the ticket price. I laughed quite a bit throughout the night, and the leads did their job honoring this beloved family. It plays for a little while longer at the Pantages and then continues its tour. Go see it and be ready to snap along with the orchestra. Go see a show!