A reworked storyline, several new numbers, and one less giant squid later, the national Broadway tour of “The Addams Family” is all stitched up. Judging from the raucous sold-out house at The 5th Avenue Theatre on opening night, Seattle is in love with the make-over. The packed audience was snapping on cue with palpable glee.
This mysterious and spooky, all together ooky tale takes place further down the road from its predeceasing cartoon strip, TV series, and films. Little Wednesday (Cortney Wolfson) is all grown up and has fallen in love with Lucas (Curtis Holbrook), a boy from a “normal” family. They become secretly engaged, but before wedding bells can ring, there’s the little matter of the parents meeting. Utilizing the greatest daughter puppy eyes known to man, she begs Gomez not to tell Morticia (Douglas Sills and Sara Gettelfinger) about the engagement until the dinner is over. Having never kept a secret from his wife before, Gomez is trapped between a tombstone and a coffin. In the meantime, Lucas’ squaresville parents from Repressed, Ohio (played by Martin Vidnovic and Gaelen Gilliland) get a gaping look at the bizarre family.
Horror and hilarity ensues.
Who ever thought that the messages of “Love conquers all” and “Be true to your wife” would come from The Addams Family musical?
The Addams brothers, Douglas Sills as “Gomez” and Blake Hammond as “Uncle Fester,” walk away with it. Sills is perfect as the Addams patriarch: an upbeat kinda guy with an insatiable love for his wife and a peppy interest in torture instruments. Sills’ asides to the audience are priceless, his imminent delight in horrifying his guests with his creepy hobbies never gets old.
Then there’s Uncle Fester. Oh man. Hammond’s Fester is dead on (rimshot). He is so clearly comfortable in the role, frighteningly funny and lovable. His impish grin alone elicited gales of laughter from the audience. A big softie, Fester enlists (well, blackmails) the help of the Addams ancestors to help keep the two lovebirds together, acting as guide and narrator through much of the show. But without a doubt, his love song to the moon is the absolute highlight of the entire production.
Wolfson as “Wednesday” proves she has an incredible set of pipes again and again. She does a fine job bringing teenage Wednesday to life without picking the obvious choices. Patrick D. Kennedy, also golden-throated, is precociously perilous as little brother “Pugsley,” who schemes a way to keep her from leaving home. Pippa Pearthree as “Grandma” is inspired, grotesque and hilarious.
As a whole the musical isn’t nearly as macabre as it could go (probably to keep it kid-friendly), but there are plenty of grown-up jokes that had the audience roaring, including a naughty joke about one of Gomez’s ancestors, Alfonso the Enormous. The plot line can be a little obvious in parts, but there are several inter-scene gags, including Thing lending a hand and a delightful romance between Cousin It and a curtain tassel to distract and delight. The lush red curtain is almost its own character, shifting like a specter throughout the performance to reveal various scenes and zoom in on a soliloquy.
Admittedly, the show is unforgivably lacking in two departments: never does Lurch give his classic booming “You rang?” line (although actor Tom Corbeil is a comic genius in the role) and, most glaringly, there isn’t nearly enough of the kissing-up-Morticia’s-arm gag from Gomez. Quel dommage. (Tish, that’s French!)
Nonetheless, Andrew Lippa’s music is catchy and fun and the cast is superb. For some dark light-hearted entertainment, go check out “The Addams Family” at The 5th. With Halloween just around the “coroner,” the timing couldn’t be better.
“The Addams Family”
Now through November 11th
The 5th Avenue Theatre (1308 5th Avenue, Seattle)
For single tickets (starting at $35) and information, please visit www.5thavenue.org or call the Box Office at (206) 625-1900. Tickets may also be purchased at (888) 5TH-4TIX