Thursday, June 21, 2012

The PC Review: The Addams Family

As The Blog mentioned, *ahem* in passing, a few posts back, Mrs. Blog and I spent last Sunday at Hollywood's Pantages Theater, attending a performance of the Broadway musical "The Addams Family."

If you haven't read that post, you will find it here....

Go! Catch up so I don't have to repeat myself.

Now I hear you asking, "So, Uncle PC? Did you like it?"

And I answer, "Yeah. I liked it! I liked it a lot!"

In fact, I will say that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it.

Oh, it wasn't perfect and no one would ever mistake it for "great theater." But, it was a whole lot of fun!

First, the house was packed. I don't know if it was sold out. There may have been some empty seats in the balcony, but the orchestra level was full to capacity.

The story was pretty much what I described in the earlier post.

Wednesday Addams is now a young woman and she has fallen in love with a "normal" boy. In fact, he has asked her to marry him. Now, the young man and his parents are coming for dinner.

Wednesday is played to near perfection by Cortney Wolfson (the understudy to Broadway's Wednesday) alternating between the classic Lisa Loring/Christina Ricci dower deadpan and uncharacteristic, giddy bride-to-be, at a bipolar drop of a hat.

In a plot line that, I am told, didn't exist in the Broadway production, but was added for the tour, (which is hard to imagine, as it is a major part of the story) Wednesday confides her engagement to Gomez and asks him to promise her that he won't tell Morticia until she announces it after dinner. This is a problem for the family patriarch, as he cannot conceive of the idea of ever keeping a secret from his wife.

Wednesday convinces the family to pretend to be normal at least long enough to make a good impression on her beau's conservative family.


Wednesday: You have to understand! They're from Ohio!

Gomez: Blast it! A swing state!
The pretense is kept up just long enough to be hilarious rather than a tedious "La Cage" rip-off.

But, little brother Pugsley, fearing that he will lose his beloved, torturer/sister to her new love, attempts to create mayhem, with unintended consequences.

Conflicts and epiphanies ensue. And, all is well that ends well. The curtain falls as Gomez and Morticia utter the only lines taken directly from an original Chas Addams cartoon.

Gomez: Are you unhappy, Darling?

Morticia: Oh, yes, yes! Completely!
The cast is nearly flawless.

In my earlier post, I mentioned that I thought that the Broadway casting of Nathan Lane and Bebe Newurth was, pretty much, genius. Now, having heard the original cast recording and seeing bits on YouTube and comparing it to the more or less unknown touring cast, I have to conclude that Broadway went with a cast that was, really, just commercially inevitable.

The touring cast is far superior.

I've already talked about Wednesday. So, on to the rest.

Douglas Sills as Gomez is mostly Raul Julia with just a dash of John Astin and seems to have been born for the role. (Lane seemed to strain, a bit, as a suave Latino.)

While Newurth's Morticia chewed the scenery, Sara Gettelfinger (in a plunging d├ęcolletage that defies physical law) left the "flies" (that's theater talk for scenery) sporting discreet hickeys and a wicked case of "blue balls."

Blake Hammond as Uncle Fester couldn't have channeled Jackie Coogan better if he had the help of a medium.

Pippa Pearthree's Grandmama stopped the show whenever she was on stage. A great performance aided by some of the show's funniest lines. No other version has ever made such good use of this crazy old lady!

Patrick D. Kennedy as Pugsley, the only child actor in the show, is clearly precocious beyond his years.

Martin Vidnovick, Gaelen Gililland and Brian Justin Crum played the "normal" Beineke family. I kept feeling like I was watching Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara and Justin Timberlake, (Casting note to potential producers of "The Addams Family: The Musical" movie!)

And then there is Tom Corbeil as Lurch. Oh man. Impossibly tall and lanky. Cadaverous and deadpan.  An opera singer by profession who translates Ted Cassidy's mournful moans into weird arias. A bit disconcerting, at first. But, with a surprise payoff at the finale that makes it all make sense.

And never fear! Thing and Cousin Itt are on board, if only as cameos. Admittedly, Thing, being nothing but a hand, doesn't lend itself to the large stage, but it's small part is welcomed.

(HA! Thing... lends... a hand! The Blog just amused himself! HA!)

Note to future productions.... Cousin Itt's brief, romantic pursuit of an errant curtain tassel could easily be expanded to a much larger running gag. A la "Ice Age's" Scrat and acorn or Pepe Le Pew and cat. Think about it. You're welcome.

And speaking of curtains...

The red velvet stage curtain should be credited as a cast member. (You will just have to see the show to understand that.)

I should mention the music.

Meh. It did the job. Just enough of the original TV theme to keep me happy. *snap, snap* But, your Blog is in no danger of waking up one morning with any of the show's songs stuck in his head. Which is too bad, because he needs to find something to dislodge every note of "American Idiot" from his current internal soundtrack!

If you live in Southern California, it's probably too late for you to see the show. (But, don't worry. The Blog has discovered that touring shows tend to come back to other SoCal venues for a year or two after their main appearance.)

If you live somewhere else, go see it when it comes to your town!





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