Review: The Addams Family is trying 'normal'

05:07 PM, Feb 06, 2013

The Addams Family plays through Sunday at the Auditorium Theatre. (SCOTT SUCHMAN//Photo provided by RBTL)/


Written By Marcia Morphy

If you go

What:
The Addams Family.
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Auditorium Theatre, 885 E. Main St.
Cost: $32.50 to $67.50.
For tickets: At the theater box office, (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

Death is just around the ‘coroner,’ ” sings Morticia. “She is my hepatitis B,” croons her loving husband, Gomez.

With a touch of the macabre, The Addams Family musical arrived at the Auditorium Theatre and invited the audience into their “creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky” world we all know and love from the 1964 sitcom and the 1990s movies.

All the Addams clan was accounted for. Hand and Cousin Itt made brief but smile-driven curtain calls, white-washed ghoulish ancestors added some “lifeless” zest.

And, of course, the beloved family rock stars all made it to the show. There’s the dashing patriarch Gomez (Jesse Sharp), and his sexy, cadaverous wife Morticia (Keleen Snowgren). Crossbow-wielding daughter Wednesday (Jennifer Fogarty) and torture-driven son Pugsley (a delightful Sam Primack in this performance). Bald, rotund and whacky Uncle Fester (Shaun Rice), kooky Grandma (a “wigged out” Amanda Bruton) and the seemingly 7-foot-tall grunting butler Lurch (Dan Olson).

In this revised adaptation of Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice and Andrew Lippa’s 2010 Broadway musical that lasted 1 1/2 years on the Great White Way and earned mixed reviews for stars Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, the dark characters of Charles Addams 1938 comic strip in The New Yorker take a leap from poison to sweetened lemonade.

Gone are the days of asking neighbors for a cup of cyanide. Now the family is trying to be “normal” at the request of their 18-year-old daughter, who wants to marry Ohioan Lucas Beineke (a charming Bryan Welnicki) and invites his tourist-struck parents, Alice and Mal (Blaire Anderson and Mark Poppleton), to dinner at the family’s ghoulish mansion in Central Park.

Reminiscent of The Birdcage, the meet-the-parents encounter is marred with a new twist.

Gomez is torn between the two women he loves as he promises Wednesday he will not reveal her secret engagement to his wife. But Morticia becomes suspicious, and after dinner invites the two families to play “Full Disclosure,” where everyone is invited to drink from a chalice and reveal a secret truth.

In the roles of Gomez and Morticia, Sharp and Snowgren are a marriage made in heaven, perfectly attuned to each other’s nuances and delightful to watch in their “Tango de Amor.”

Fogarty captures the Christina Ricci-like dourness of Wednesday. Rice as Uncle Fester is a hoot as the show’s narrator and shines in his love affair with “the moon,” but it’s Anderson who delivers an unexpected powerhouse performance as the disappointed wife in “Waiting.”

And I couldn’t take my eyes off watching Olson as Lurch — the giant poster boy for the “Grateful Dead” who flails his arms to walk faster. When he finds his voice in the finale, it made me think of real Addams family values.

This gothic household — where dark is light, repugnant is beautiful, pain equals pleasure and death is life — adds new meaning to social commentary.

Yes, the Addams are weird and different, but they actually love one another.

Snap. Snap.