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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 2, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 44
Spooky but sweet
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Spooky but sweet

Darkly delicious Addams Family comes to the Seattle stage

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

THE ADDAMS FAMILY
5TH AVENUE THEATER
Through November 11


Sing with me: 'They're creepy and they're kooky/Mysterious and spooky & The Addams Family (snap, snap).' This delightful, frightfully comic family has been with us now for almost 75 years. Originally a comic strip, they have been reincarnated as a live-action TV series, several TV cartoon series, two blockbuster movies, and now a Broadway musical. Opening at the 5th Avenue just in time for Halloween, the stage version of this ghoulish family is a major departure from those earlier productions.

The family should be very familiar by now, with the strange patriarch Gomez at its (severed) head. The two children - the tortured Pugsley and his crossbow-carrying sister, Wednesday - join their vampyric mother, Morticia, and other oddities including electric Uncle Fester, witchy Grandma, butler Lurch, Thing, and Cousin Itt.

The story revolves around Wednesday, who has met a boy named Lucas and plans to marry him. Lucas's family is coming to dinner at the Addams manse, and Wednesday begs her family to be 'normal' for one night. The narrative avoids continuing either the TV or movie storylines, creating something completely different and very enjoyable.

SILLS A STANDOUT
Gomez is played by Douglas Sills, who embraces the eccentric character with a Spanish flair that is not only humorous, but also highly charismatic on stage. His voice is strong and his delivery precise - a good thing, considering the source and the deadpan precision that is needed for a lot of the subtle Addams humor. Sills understands his character so well that at certain moments, one wonders if he's ad-libbing. Either way, Sills performs with a natural grace that completely seduces all who watch.

Wednesday, played by Cortney Wolfson, expresses the angst that any girl would feel when introducing their family to a potential suitor, with the added delight of devilishly dark humor. The conflicts of being true to her own self and trying to impress her fiancé's family comes through, and Wolfson's creation becomes a wonderful force to reckon with. Pugsley, played by Patrick D. Kennedy, is a more fully developed character here than in past incarnations. His torture (mental, physical, and emotional) comes from his sister's departure from their usual macabre games to the fact that she's growing up and moving on with her life. His attempted intervention to keep his sister at home allows his character to shine with many humorous moments.

Blake Hammond is definitely a scene-stealer as Uncle Fester. The unofficial (and undead) narrator of the musical, Fester explains what is going on and how the dearly departed will return to help put everything back on the right track. His love ballad 'The Moon and Me' is concrete proof of the character's ability to control the scene. With his wonderfully cartoonish aerial ballet, his seduction of the glowing moon is not only hysterically funny, but it is a scene that will stay with the audience long after they leave the theater.

MEMORABLE MUSIC
The songs are fun, clever, and definitely hummable - all the things one wants in a musical theater score. Both music and lyrics are by Andrew Lippa (off-Broadway's The Wild Party, John & Jen, and new songs for the revival of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown), and his talent comes through as strongly here as with any of his previous hit shows. The book of the musical is by Marshall Brickman (who also penned the book to Jersey Boys). Brickman also rises to the occasion with a strong script. While the show has undergone rewrites (musically, lyrically, and story-wise) since its Broadway debut on March 8, 2010, the changes have been improvements as the musical is highly enjoyable, fun to watch, and just an all-out good time.

The Addams Family cartoons first appeared in The New Yorker in 1938. In 1964, ABC obtained the rights to create a TV show, which starred John Astin, Carolyn Jones, and Jackie Coogan. Though it ran for only two seasons, it had a major impact on American pop culture. The ghoulish clan went on to become a 1991 movie, which spawned a sequel two years later - both films featuring Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, and Christina Ricci. The Broadway musical featured Nathan Lane as Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia. Nominated for eight Drama Desk Awards (winning one, for set design) and two Tonys, it ran for more than 700 performances before closing last December.

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