Music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Directed by Stephen Pike
Musical direction by Matthew Webster
The Q – Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre to 19 March
Reviewed by Len Power 3 March 2017
From the playing of the distinctive theme music for ‘The Addams Family’ TV show of the 1960s, Stephen Pike’s sprightly production of this musical version captured the imagination of the opening night audience and held it right to the end.
The show is based upon ‘The Addams Family’ characters created by Charles Addams in his single-panel gag cartoons, which depict a weird American family with an affinity for all things macabre. The storyline of the musical doesn’t really matter. We’ve seen it before in ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ and ‘La Cage Aux Folles’. What really works in the musical are the characters and how they relate to each other in such a delightfully ghoulish way.
As the character work is so important to the success of this show, it has to be cast very well. Stephen Pike has assembled a dream cast who suit their roles very nicely and they can all sing too. Written as a star turn on Broadway for Nathan Lane, the character of Gomez Addams dominates the show. Gordon Nicholson gives a highly funny performance with very clear diction in the fast songs and maintains a spot on oily latin lover accent. Lainie Hart as his wife, Morticia, gives a very amusing physical performance of great sensuality, writhing about the stage and striking dramatic poses.
Tim Stiles is a delight as Uncle Fester and has one of the best songs in the show, ‘The Moon And Me’. He delivers a character we truly care for. Strong singer Rachel Thornton as the daughter, Wednesday, really scores with a strong characterisation as a self-centred teenager. Callum Doherty is very funny as the jealous younger brother, Pugsley, and Barbara Denham has a lot of fun with the feisty role of old Grandma Addams. Nathan Rutups as Lurch, the butler, has to wait a long time for his big moment but he almost stops the show when it happens.
The conventional Beineke family are just as funny as the Addams family as they try to cope with a lifestyle wildly unfamiliar to them. Joseph McGrail-Bateup and Deanna Gibbs as the parents and Liam Dowling as their son, give strong performances in their roles. One of the unexpected delights of this show are the Ancestors, a ghoulish group of dead people who make up the chorus.
The set by Brian Sudding has the right atmosphere but the stairs looked a bit out of place against the rest of the set. Lighting and sound were well done and costumes by Christine Pawlicki and Barbara Denham were excellent and Emily Geyer's ghoulish makeup design is a lot of fun.
Musical direction by Matthew Webster of this deceptively tricky score by Andrew Lippa was very well done. Choreography by Annette Sharpe showed a real understanding of dance for musicals, especially in the tango number.
This is a really funny and tuneful show, artfully directed by Stephen Pike. Bring the kids, too, they’ll love it!
Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7’s programs ‘Artcetera’ (9am Saturdays) and ‘Dress Circle’ (3.30pm Mondays).