“The Addams Family” hits the musical world exactly as macabre, bizarre and creepy as one would expect. However, a refreshing storyline written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice allows the family to show its human qualities, work through “normal” family problems and still maintain the characterization we all know and love.
The plot, which takes place on the Addams Family property located in New York’s Central Park, tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers, Wednesday Addams (Cortney Wolfson) and her normal Ohioan boyfriend, Lucas Beineke (Brian Justin Crum). Lucas and his family have been invited to dinner at the mansion, and Wednesday pleads for her family to have “One Normal Night” (a concept which doubles as the title for a musical number).
Wednesday confides in her father Gomez Addams (Douglas Sills) that she and Lucas want to get married but makes him promise to keep this secret from mama Morticia (Sara Gettelfinger) until after dinner. It soon becomes clear that the foundation of the Addams’s marriage is that Gomez and Morticia have never kept secrets.
The dilemma soon has Gomez feeling “Trapped” (another song) and sets the play’s conflict in motion. Secrets start flying out of everyone’s mouths after dinner during a game of “Full Disclosure,” including Alice, who finally expresses her sexual desires and how she misses the old Mal in a sassy scene that even gets Lurch (Tom Corbeil) going.
When Gomez’s lie is discovered, Morticia is mortified. From that point on, the usual sexual chemistry between Gomez and Morticia dies, and the plot develops from there as the members of both clans, including Wednesday’s brother Pugsley (Patrick D. Kennedy), Uncle Fester (Blake Hammond) and Grandma (Pippa Pearthree) must deal with the marriage and find themselves on their own journey to happiness and self-realization. Even Cousin It makes an appearance and has a romance with a curtain tassel.
The Addams property itself fits right in with the strange qualities of the family. The musical opens with a giant old gate, leading the audience into a foggy graveyard with the Addams Family crypt housing the ghostly ancestors of the family who remain a part of the company throughout the musical.
And in general, the set design excels, at its best featuring an enormous tree against the backdrop of a mystical New York skyline and a big lit up moon. The inside of the Addams’s mansion is mostly empty and candlelit, and there’s even a scene in Wednesday’s and Pugsley’s dungeon.
The musical wouldn’t show the true Addams if there weren’t a serious whimsical component. Uncle Fester’s scene “The Moon and Me” doesn’t disappoint, and there are a few other surprises just around the “coroner.” The music succeeds in telling a cohesive story with original and refreshing songs. The famous Addams Family tune is there, but it’s mixed with contemporary numbers, making the music dark and spooky, yet not overly intense.
Sills as Gomez is a comedic force, spitting out line after witty line. Every character had their moments, but his Latin demeanor and general craziness kept the storyline light. Similarly, Gettelfinger, as Morticia, played a sexy and sultry role with the right amount of aggression and sass, making the moments between her and her husband comically tense.
Awkward pauses and silences made the audience uncomfortable in the most fantastic way. The cast seemed to consider the audience in these moments, keeping the crowd laughing and showing a more human, charming side to the dark characters.
Even costuming was right on target. The Ancestors wore gray attire corresponding to the time period they died, ranging from cave man to flapper. Morticia wore a sleek tight fitting dress to her ankles which was eventually tied up to show quite a bit of leg in a sexy tango number. Wednesday, however, was missing her braids and flaunted a yellow (gasp!) dress for most of the story.
The musical allowed the Addams Family to become human and relatable. It brought a refreshing new vibe to the story, which continues to have a special place in the hearts of many.
“The Addams Family” plays through May 6 at the Overture Center. Tickets start at $40 and are available at www.overturecenter.com.