One of the strangest musical productions to come to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has to be the popular Broadway musical The Addams Family. This bizarre, weird, wacky family first appeared in the New Yorker magazine in 1933 and had been a hit in almost every medium except one. After more than 60 years of existence Charles Addams’ classic creation has finally entered the final frontier – Broadway.
The show was directed and designed by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, and fans of the old black and white TV show and the movies (I’ll admit I’ve never been a big fan of The Addams Family) will love the set decoration here. They do a really nice job of stagecraft and bringing this strange world to life. The family house looks imposing and foreboding. The costume work is spot on. Special props go to the good work on Morticia and Wednesday’s trademark outfits.
In keeping with tradition, the show is a family nightmare brought to life – but not the type this macabre family usually enjoys. Gomez Addams (Doulass Sills) has discovered that his usually sweet, innocent, dour, gothic girl Wednesday (Cortney Wolfson, who was in the original Broadway production) has found love in the form of a normal boy, Lucas (Brian Justin Crum). Her happiness is creeping everyone out, especially her little brother Pugsley (Patrick D. Kennedy) and Morticia (Sara Gettelfinger).
While this family is different, there is a real bond and feeling of love that permeates the house. All of the actors have really good chemistry with each other and do a fantastic job of bringing these well-known characters to life. However, it feels like they are doing impersonations of all of these famous characters. I would have liked to see them stretch the envelope a bit or do something really different with them. But then, maybe fans would not like that.
Everything about this show works well except one major thing: Composer Andrew Lippa’s weird score seems, at times, really out of place. There are standout moments, like the fun “Full Disclosure.” The song is bouncy and energetic, if a bit too long. It is ruined by a ridiculous confession from Uncle Fester (Blake Hammond). Hammond does a fun job of serving as the show’s “narrator” but a little bit of Fester goes a long way and there’s a lot of him in this show.
Other good moments include a duet between Wolfson and Crum on the Broadway-style pop tune “Crazier Than You.” I also really liked “One Normal Night,” and the show’s opening group number, “When You’re an Addams,” is cute. Cortney’s solo performance on “Pulled” is nicely done. While the show lacks any truly memorable musical moments, I do find myself listening to the soundtrack more and more.
The dialog works really well in this production. Wolfson does an amazing job as Wednesday. Sills’s performance as Gomez is the glue that holds this all together. He’s funny and charming and there are lots of great moments for him to shine. More times than not he succeeds.
Though I was never a fan of this material and never watched more than a minute of any incarnation, this was an enjoyable evening out. I was not in love with it. However I do think fans of The Addams Family will love this production. It is faithful to the source material in almost every way.