We’re all familiar with The Addams Family — the jet black hair of mother Morticia, the sliver of a mustache that sits atop Gomez’s upper lip and the expressionless face of daughter Wednesday. But on stage, this family is not nearly as creepy as you may remember.
In some respect, the Addams Family musical would be expected to be a bit more perky, a bit more bright and yes, a tad more jubilant. It’s a Broadway musical, after all.
But the family that greeted us on opening night Tuesday at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts was not at all what one might have expected. For better or worse? I’m still not sure.
I’ll give them credit — this show is packed with punchlines. Not all of them hit, but the ones that didn’t were quickly forgotten with the barrage of one-liners that followed.
Gomez (Douglas Sills) is credited with a majority of these zingers and plays to the audience well with his mix of rim-shot gags and physical humor. And while his Latin background certainly comes to the forefront in this show, it’s his animated mannerisms that had me more-so picturing a Chris-Kattan-esque “SNL” character than Mr. Addams.
The storyline itself also diverges a bit from what is typically “Addams.” Here, daughter Wednesday (played by Cortney Wolfson) announces she’s fallen in love and is planning to marry a seemingly “normal” boy. Of course, that means dinner with the future in-laws and a chance for both worlds to collide.
Wolfson does an amazing job with the vocals in the show and carries her solos in an absolutely pitch-perfect way. But the storyline’s transformation — from gloomy hunter Wednesday into falling-in-love, sunny, girly Wednesday is a bit far-fetched.
Personally, I believe Broadway has enough young teens falling in love, dancing around the stage, singing about their exciting future. I was looking forward to a night of bleak, expressionless faces with talk of death and darkness, not love and marriage.
Still, the show was plenty entertaining with original music, ghoulish dance numbers and a nod to the characters that made the movie and TV show a success.
Morticia, played by Sara Gettelfinger, had the same long, black hair and yes, slinky down-to-there attire (truth be told, I found myself slightly distracted waiting for a nip-slip that I missed most of her vocal numbers). But there was an essence of mystery and refinement that was so effortless in the Angelica Houston character that I found myself missing Tuesday night.
The side roles of Uncle Fester (Blake Hammond) and Lurch (Tom Corbeil) were perhaps my favorite of the evening. Lurch’s incredible zombie-like, understated movements and incomprehensible speech were only made funnier when he came out of his shell at the end of the performance. Uncle Fester’s side story (of his love affair with the moon) was certainly random but made for the show’s most entertaining musical number involving a pitch-black backdrop, hidden stage hands and a bright, bouncing moon ball.
I don’t blame the cast in this production at all — they all do a spectacular job with the script and task at hand. And perhaps I misjudged just how the evening would unfold and was expecting something far more gloomy and kooky — a bit more understated and less obvious. But it’s still a musical and certain characterizations must adapt.
So instead, I urge theater-goers to go to the show without any preconceived notions and expectations, because on face value it’s a great evening out — one that can provide the perfect escape to a dull week and perhaps help you reevaluate your own family and all their ookiness.
The Addams Family runs through May 20 at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts. For tickets or more information, click here.