On my last visit to New York I saw The Addams Family and half enjoyed it. The show got bad reviews, and many of the cast were said to hate it, but the audience familiarity with both the cartoon and the television show kept the audiences coming for 34 previews and 725 performances.
The National Touring Company, starring Douglas Sills and Sara Gettelfinger, has just opened in Los Angeles. The show has undergone a real overhaul, which is now common in touring shows. The show is now much funnier, thanks largely to Douglas Sills, and has new dialogue, new or revised songs to replace old ones, fresh orchestrations and dances were necessary. The tour also has a new central plot conflict centered on Gomez and Morticia. The parts of the parents of Lucas Beineke (engaged to Wednesday Addams) have been cut down considerably, though Mrs. Beineke, Gaelen Gilliland, still has the delightful song “Waiting” which nearly steals the show.
The first act had lots of gags, topical references, and audience takes, and enough morbid humor to keep Addams Family fans giggling their heads off. Unfortunately, Act Two still drags some and the humor gives way to sentiment. The show works best when the gags keep coming. Others in the cast include Martin Vidnovic as Mal Beineke, and Brian Justin Crum as his son Lucas. Cortney Wolfson plays Wednesday Addams. Both she and Crum seem a tad modern for my taste, and Wolfson hasn’t found a way to make Wednesday fun. Pippa Peartree plays the feisty Grandma, though neither Gomez or Mortician claims her. Patrick D. Kennedy is just right as Pugsley, the boy who loves to be tortured. The scene were he is on the rack is a true highlight of the show. Lurch, always an audience favorite, is Tom Corbeil. Blake Hammond is a terrific Uncle Fester who guides the show and loves the moon, literally.
Sara Gettelfinger is a good Morticia but isn’t very funny, depending of the dialogue to get her laughs. To be fair, Bebe Neuwirth in New York wasn’t funny either. Douglas Sills was just wonderful as Gomez. I understand that Nathan Lane played it straight in New York (I saw the understudy) and wasn’t particularly funny either, but Sills is terrific in this role that he sings, dances and sends up beautifully.
The Addams Family will be at the Pantages until June 17th.