Alternative Theatre Company’s production of The Addams Family: The Musical is fresh, fun, and fantastical! Prompted by the infectious enthusiasm from the entire cast, it quickly puts a smile on your face which remains right to the very end of the show.
The Addams Family is a musical comedy with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. The show is based upon The Addams Family comic-strip characters created by cartoonist Charles Addams. They are a ghoulish American family who are irrepressibly drawn to all things macabre, and this is driven home time and time again throughout the show time with a plethora of oh-so-funny one liners and absurd tongue-in-cheek situations.
Since it first opened on Broadway in 2010, The Addams Family has played around the world and has won two Tony awards. It opened in Sydney in March 2013 but closed barely three months later after struggling in the box office, and did not tour elsewhere in Australia. It first played on an Adelaide stage in 2014 with a production by Matt Byrne Media.
The plot is not based on an actual storyline created by Charles Addams. Rather, Brickman and Elice have created an original libretto replete with a swag of ‘new’ characters. Wednesday Addams has fallen in love with a ‘normal’ young man. She knows she has to break the news to her parents, and knows her father Gomez and mother Morticia will be none too happy. However, a dinner is planned for the two families to meet, along with dead and departed ancestors who are summoned from their eternal rest to join in the festivities, and …… all hell breaks loose!
The principal cast are enthusiastic and strong. Grace Carter plays Wednesday with sufficient teenage anxt and chill. Nicholas Munday, as Wednesday’s boyfriend Lucas, consistently brings his excellent singing voice and strong acting skills to the fore. Bec Pynor plays Morticia as a force to be reckoned with. Despite her not wearing a neck to toe black gown as might be expected, she nevertheless commands the stage with her every scene.
Parisya ‘Ris’ Mosel is excellent as Gomez. He finds all the wit in the text and delivers the gags with confidence and well developed style. His performance of Happy/Sad was quite touching and well sung, as was Not Today.
Zachary Baseby shaved his head to look the part of Uncle Fester (that’s commitment for you!), and he imbued the character with an unexpected but totally engaging sense of lightness, calm and innocence. Baseby’s performance was a highlight of the show, and his performance of The Moon and Me was a delight.
Despite his young age, Harrison Thomas brought considerable experience to the role of Pugsley, the repugnant youngster of the Addams family, and played him with boyish but endearing naughtiness. Butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, it would boil!
Grace Mezak gave the role of Grandma a dose of wacky wisdom and arthritic antics, and Jason Clark looked imposing as Lurch as he …… well, lurched, pitched and groaned his way around the stage.
Will Faulds looked a little too young as Mal, the father of the boyfriend, and more appropriate costuming would have helped, but he played the role with great energy. Alana Lymn played his wife Alice with sufficient pessimism but also looked a little young alongside of Munday.
The cast was rounded out with no less than thirteen others in the roles of various ancestors. They looked fantastical in their all black and white costumes, ranging from a caveman and a bride, to a bull fighter and a survivor from the sinking of the Titanic! They looked suitably ghoulish in their grey makeup and hair dressings. As an ensemble they sang well and provided strong, competent and confident support in the major production numbers. Just Around the Corner was particularly well handled.
Jemma Allen’s choreography was well thought out. Some numbers were appropriately impressive, such as Tango D Amor, with accuracy, energy and stylishness on display from the cast. Others were much simpler, but sometimes the ensemble were too often merely ‘lined up’.
Musical Director Jarrod Matulick led a well-balanced orchestra with some fine playing across all sections, especially in the drums, percussion, guitar and keyboards. Matulick’s conducting style is not entirely conventional, but the proof is in the eating of the pudding, and entry and phrasing by all vocalists was accurate. LJ Marrone’s sound engineering sometimes favoured instrumentalists (especially the reeds) over the vocalists.
Toby Jaffer’s set was simplicity itself, largely comprising an upstage decorated wall to create a sense of the interiors of the Addams’ spooky mansion. Stephen Dean’s lighting was adequate and mostly comprised colourful washes with a few specials when needed. The lighting plot would have benefitted from the use of follow-spots to throw emphasis on principal characters and reduce reliance of broad washes.
Being a relatively new company, Alternative Theatre Company doesn’t yet have the same resources available to it that more established companies do, and so some production elements don’t have the polish and style one might like, but what this show lacks in budget is more than made up for in heart!
Alternative Theatre Company’s production only has a short run, so don’t miss it. It’s good fun!