Well, of course I was going to write this. Given how I’ve covered pretty much every Addams Family adaptation (not counting the live-action TV shows and films, because everyone’s talked about those… Shit, am I a hipster?) it was inevitable that a) I would go see the musical when it came to Britain and b) blog about it immediately afterwards. This isn’t exactly rocket science here, people.
The plot is quite straightforward: Wednesday’s all grown up, and she’s inviting her new boyfriend, one Lucas Beineke, and his tight-laced parents round for dinner. So far, so “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner meets The Rocky Horror Picture Show“. Now, I’m not going to go into any further details, because I genuinely want people to see this for themselves – it’s that good. Seriously, go book your tickets now.
Instead, I’ll discuss the production itself. For example, the set design is wonderful, evoking the feel of The Addams’ decrepit estate (now located in Central Park, because why not?) and being occasionally claustrophobic without crowding the cast out. A few stabs at modern sensibilities fell flat (a joke about universal healthcare, in a country that has the NHS?) Costume design is spot-on for the main cast, but when it came to the extras things got a little busy for my tastes.
Speaking of the main cast, they’re amazing, especially the actresses. Carrie Hope Fletcher is pitch-perfect as a besotted yet wilful Wednesday (her rendition of “Pulled” on The Graham Norton Show is the main reason I booked tickets), Samantha Womack is a superbly deadpan Morticia, Charlotte Page is a revelation as Mrs Beineke, and even Valda Aviks does well as Grandmama, breathing life into some slightly tired “aren’t old people lovably irascible” bits.
That’s not to say the male cast aren’t pulling their weight. Cameron Blakely is a lively and swarthy (if occasionally rather wacky) Gomez, Oliver Ormson makes a very likable Lucas, Dale Rapley does a good comedic turn as the uptight Mr Beineke, and Grant McIntyre does a fantastic job as Pugsley. I must admit, it took me a while to warm to Les Dennis’
Jackie Coogan impression Uncle Fester (he seemed to be channeling Jimmy Durante at one point) but the worst I can say is that he was “only” really good, whereas everyone else was incredible.
As I’m reviewing a musical, I suppose it would make sense to discuss the songs… except that doing so would probably involve discussing the plot, which I already said I wouldn’t do because seriously, go see it. What I will say is that they don’t just give the audience something to smile about (no lie, I was grinning from ear to ear for most of the show) but it truly understands what makes The Addams Family so wonderful.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: The Addams Family are at their best when they’re not just gleefully gruesome, but when they’re a loving family as well. This musical completely and totally gets that, with some real sucker-punches in Act Two from Blakely and even Dennis. I’m not saying I was weeping manly tears, but there were some genuinely tender moments among the madness and mirth. There’s real affection for Charles Addams’ work, with a direct quotation from one of his cartoons at the end.
I’ve reiterated myself several times in this post, so I’ll end on a good tagline for any promotional material that wants to quote me directly, hint hint: The Addams Family Musical is a terror-de-force for everyone who wants a frightfully good time!