When the curtain went up at a recent performance of “The Addams Family” at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre, the cast almost received a standing ovation and they hadn’t even done anything yet. The lights went up showing a cemetery and small group of people – the Addams Family standing in a familiar pose with no emotion whatsoever. They stood there for at least half a minute before the crowd died. The night looked extremely promising.
Before the movies and before the TV show, “The Addams Family” had its beginning as a series of comics by cartoonist Charles Addams and the musical tried to capture a little of each within the production. All of your favorite characters are back and played to the hilt by an incredible cast. Tony Award nominee Douglas Sills and Sara Gettelfinger star as Gomez and Morticia (her cleavage also stars). The two play off each other perfectly and show is a little better with every scene they are in. Uncle fester is played by Blake Hammond, Grandma by Pippa Pearthree, Lurch the butler by Tom Corbeil, Pugsley by Patrick D. Kennedy and Wednesday by Cortney Wolfson. Thing and Cousin It also make appearances.
The story is clever too. The Addams, as you know, is a mysterious family of ghoulish origin living in a world with “normal” people. Wednesday is all grown up and is in love with Lucas (Curtis Holbrook). She and her beau plan to get married as long as their families get along. She invites Lucas and his parents to her house for dinner and makes her family swear that they will act “normal” when Lucas’ family is there. Unbeknown to them, Lucas has made the same plea with his folks, (Martin Vidnovic and Gaelen Gilliland).
The first half of the show is a lot of fun within a great story line. The first number in this first tour of the new musical, “When You’re an Addams,” is the best of the whole show. It’s lively, funny and clever. Unfortunately, the show isn’t able to sustain this energy. Most of the music is fairly forgettable, except for the surprisingly touching, “Happy/Sad” about Gomez happy for his daughter’s proposal, but sad for him. Perhaps the most disappointing is that the TV theme song is only briefly played.
The touring show features a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. The production is directed and designed by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, choreography by Sergio Trujillo and all are under the supervision of four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks.
“The Addams Family” is best when the jokes are flying, and they do for the first half. The second half is music-heavy and unfortunately, the songs start to sound more like filler. However, the humor almost makes up for it. The overall production is uneven with a few crass lines that are unnecessary. Still, when the cast is on, they’re on. The story also sends a nice message about the importance of communication in marriage.
“The Addams Family” continues through November 11th with performances at 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:00 p.m. on Sundays and two matiness – 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays and 1:30 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets start at $29 and can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 206.625.1900. The 5th Avenue Theatre is located at 1308 5th Avenue in Seattle.