Shortly after the overture starts, you hear the familiar Addams Family theme song. That’s our cue the fun is about to start in this new Broadway musical comedy. This Addams family consists of a cast of supremely talented performers supported by many cute bits, beats, and funny props.
After being introduced to the bizarre family in a fun and flashy Latin-style opening number “When You’re an Addams,” we learn that the daughter, Wednesday, wants to bring her boyfriend and his family home to dinner. Can they please just act “normal” for a day? Although they agree to her request in the song “One Normal Night,” it’s an empty promise and things go awry. How the Addams and Beineke families get along provides the amusement and surprises to come.
Nathan Lane as Gomez Addams is sheer delight. A consummate musical comedy performer, Lane brings sparkle and vitality to the part. Bebe Neuwirth as his wife, Morticia, couldn’t look any more perfect. Her second act number, “Just Around the Corner” is a true crowd pleaser.
One of the special musical numbers is Uncle Fester (Kevin Chamberlin), crooning to the moon. With his rotund belly and beatific smile, Chamberlin is hilarious as he sings “The Moon and Me” while levitating up and away into the night. We see him become “one” with the object of his affection.
The daughter, Wednesday, played by Jessica Lea Patty, displays her vocal power at the start with, “Pulled,” lamenting her conflict between the macabre and normal. She makes her decision and, much to her parent's horror, she puts on a yellow dress! In a duet with boyfriend, Lucas, played by Wesley Taylor, they break the news to their parents they want to get married.
Another outstanding musical number is Carolee Carmello as Alice Beineke, turning from a straight-laced, over-aged poetic bimbo into a sultry vixen. During “In the Arms,” she rekindles the romance with her dud of a husband, expertly played by Terrance Mann. There’s a great surprise when he makes his transformation from boring businessman to horny hubby. Dare we say, he gets help from a giant squid!
There are plenty of laughs throughout the story, which is based on The Addams Family characters created by Charles Addams in his macabre cartoons in the 1930’s. Since then, Gomez, Morticia and their creepy clan have been the basis for two live-action television series, two animated TV series, and three motion pictures. The Broadway musical is the latest incarnation to bring these popular, grisly characters to life.
The main problem, for those who are purists, is the family we meet here simply isn’t grisly enough. Some more edginess would give the whole show more punch. The songs and the book are clever, well written and entertaining. Yet, a few spots could use more creative direction for added sparkle, such as when the dead people come out of the graveyard. They were just too dead! The choreography here seemed a bit less-than-spectacular. Luckily, most of the production shines brighter than the pale corpses.
Nonetheless, whether you’re already an Addams Family fan or you’re new to the franchise, it’s ghoulishly fun. The fact is, just watching Nathan Lane perform is worth the price of admission alone.
The Addams Family new musical has a Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. Music and lyrics are by Andrew Lippa. The production was directed and designed by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, with choreography by Sergio Trujillo. Jerry Zaks is listed as Creative Consultant.
The Addams Family
205 West 46th Street
New York, NY 10036