Beginning in the 1940s cartoonist
Charles Addams published many cartoons in The New Yorker
featuring a strange family enjoying macabre activities, including
torturing one another with great pleasure. The characters had no names
until they became characters on television as The Addams Family.
Many TV shows and movies later, the Family became a Broadway
musical in 2010, and I was fortunate to see that version in Stand Out
Talent's production playing now through December 21 at the Tower Theatre
The family is headed by the suave if
creepy Gomez (Steve Campbell, an outstanding actor, singer, and dancer)
and his vampirish wife Morticia (the equally talented J. Cranmer). In
the opening number, “When You’re an Addams,” they are joined by their
ancestors from various historical periods who emerge from their graves.
The ancestors are persuaded not to return to their coffins because an
urgent situation has arisen which requires the presence of the entire
“extended family.” The Addams’s daughter, Wednesday (Carli Meyer), is
planning on marrying a “normal” young man, and he and his parents have
been invited to dinner.
We soon meet the other members of
the family: chubby, bald, grotesque Uncle Fester (J. Scott Moore, who
threatens to steal the show whenever he appears); Grandma Addams (Haley
Buckmaster), a witch who creates powerful potions; and Wednesday’s
brother, Pugsley (Joey Carlsen), who likes nothing more than to have
Wednesday torture him. The other member of the household is the butler,
Lurch (Craig Plageman), who resembles Frankenstein’s monster and who,
well, lurches about silently as the plot unfolds. Wednesday begs the
family to have “One Normal Night,” but that is not to be.
Wednesday’s fiancé, Lucas Beineke
(Zach Van Ysseldyk), his dad Mal (Andy McCollulm) and mom, Alice
(producer, director and choreographer, Jennifer Bortz) are seated for
dinner when several Addams family members insist on playing "The Game."
It involves drinking potion and making a "full disclosure" about some
secret. Among other disclosures, Uncle Fester reveals he is in
love with the moon. The Game proceeds tamely until Puglsey sneaks
in a special potion intended to bring out one's dark nature. He
intends it for his sister, but Alice drinks it instead, and chaos
ensues. She brings down the house singing and dancing, even on the
table, revealing her disappointing marriage in “Waiting.” Through all
of this the chorus of ancestors looks on or, effectively choreographed,
dances through the scenes.
Act Two moves the story forward,
with Fester leaving for the moon. Wednesday and Lucas decide both
families are crazy, and compare them with “Crazier Than You,” which Mal
and Alice reprise as they reconcile. The marriage of Gomez and Morticia
appears endangered until Gomez promises to take Morticia to see the
sewers of Paris. They reaffirm their love in a superb dance, “Tango de
Amor,” in which they are joined by the chorus of ancestors.
The show is perfectly cast and moves
forward swiftly on the center stage surrounded by the audience on three
sides. The numerous set changes are handled swiftly and scarcely
interrupt the action. Scenery is enhanced by a series of evocative
slides projected on a screen overhanging the back of the stage. Jennifer
Bortz’s complex choreography is executed flawlessly and the many songs,
in addition to being hilarious, are carried by the excellent voices of
all the principals.
My only complaint is that the
program tells us nothing about the producers, the director, or the
members of the cast. Carli Meyer is delightful as Wednesday, but is she
a local schoolgirl or an experienced young actress? Steve Campbell is
mesmerizing as Gomez, but I wanted to know what other roles he has
played in his clearly extensive career. I cover all the shows of the two
community theatres in Folsom, and both of them include bios of the
performers in their programs. I urge Stand Out Talent to do so for
Seeing “The Addams Family” and Stand
Out Theatre for the first time was a wonderful evening of theatre.
Though not your typical Christmas show, it is delightful entertainment
about “family, love, devotion, finding your way in life and the blending
of families” and is sure to enhance the holiday enjoyment of all who are
lucky enough to see it.