A big hit on Broadway, where it played for 722 performances from April 2010 until December 2011, songwriter Andrew Lippa and scriptwriters Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s wickedly funny musical adaptation of The Addams Family delivers macabre quips and quivers — and the occasional crossbow dart — much to the delight of the Durham Performing Arts Center audience this past Tuesday night. From the first familiar notes of the catchy “The Addams Family Theme” (by Vic Mizzy) from the 1964-66 television series to the final sepulchral chord, DPAC patrons were snapping their fingers and tapping their feet.
The whole nightmarish gang depicted with such ferocious glee by New Yorker cartoonist Charles Addams from 1938 until his death in 1988 is here: the lusty Latin lover Gomez Addams and his cara mia the slinky Morticia Addams (played by Tony Award® nominee Douglas Sills and Sara Gettelfinger), their demon spawn the sadistic Wednesday and the masochistic Pugsley Addams (Cortney Wolfson and Patrick D. Kennedy), and their Frankenstein-like butler Lurch (Tom Corbeil).
There’s also creepy bald Uncle Fester (Blake Hammond) in his monkish cowl, hilariously hirsute Cousin Itt (a prize puppet creation of Basil Twist), and the Addams’ potion-packing Grandma (Pippa Pearthree), who may or may not be a stranger who has crashed the party at the ghoulish extended family’s sinister Central Park mansion, whose cobwebby confines are so vividly created by co-directors and set and costume designers Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch.
Wednesday Addams’ inexplicable longing to fall in love, get married, defy Addams family values, and (gasp!) lead a “normal” life sets the musical’s plot in motion. When its time to meet the parents, Wednesday’s clueless Midwestern heartthrob Lucas Beinke (Justin Crum) brings his hopelessly square parents Mal and Alice (Tony nominees Martin Vidnovic and Crista Moore) to dinner at the Addams family’s garishly gabled ancestral manse.
Douglas Sills is superb as the “Trapped” pater familias Gomez Addams, who foolishly promises Wednesday to keep her marriage plans secret from the increasingly suspicious Morticia (portrayed with panache and cleavage down to here by Sara Gettelfinger). And Cortney Wolfson and Justin Crum make a cute couple as Wednesday Addams and Lucas Beinke.
Martin Vidnovic and especially Crista Moore are a scream as Mal and Alice Beinke, Tom Corbeil is a hoot as Lurch, Patrick Kennedy amuses as Pugsley, and Pippa Pearthree is a real pip as Grandma. But it is Blake Hammond’s whimsical portrayal of Uncle Fester that worms its way deepest into DPAC patrons’ hearts.
The frisky musical staging of co-directors Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, choreographer Sergio Trujillo, and musical director Valerie Gebert injects plenty of snap, crackle, and pop into the proceedings; and combines with the cast’s charismatic characterizations and the whimsical puppetry by Basil Twist, the luminous lighting design by Natasha Katz, and the sound design by Acme Sound Partners to make The Addams Family a must-see musical.
SECOND OPINION: March 4th Durham, NC Duke Chronicle “Recess” review by Caitlin Moyles: http://recess.nujigroup.com/?p=877; March 1st Raleigh, NC NBC 17 interview with Douglas Sills, conducted by Valonda and Sharon for “My Carolina Today”: http://www2.nbc17.com/lifestyles/2012/mar/01/addams-family-gomez-vi-41347/; March 1st Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/03/01/1894203/dpacs-addams-family-will-leave.html; March 1st Raleigh, NC Raleigh Telegram review: http://raleightelegram.com/20120301999; and Feb. 24th Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview Feb. 29th review, both by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story/17629118/article-It’s-a-snap–snap? and http://www.heraldsun.com/view/full_story/17692993/article-REVIEW–Having-fun-with-‘The-Addams-Family’?, respectively (Note: You must register first to read this article); Feb. 22nd Chapel Hill, NC UNC-TV preview by Heather Burgiss for “NC Now”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADrVjYmxPMk; and Feb. 22nd Chapel, Hill, NC 1360 AM WCHL interview with Rachel Gragg and Blake Hammond, conducted by Ron Stutts for “On Stage: With DPAC“: http://www.chapelboro.com/topic/play_window.php?audioType=Episode&audioId=5710727. SHOW: http://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/the_addams_family. (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Feb. 27th Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2012/02/charles-addams’-bizarre-but-beloved-addams-family-characters-satirize-american-family-values/.)
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents THE ADDAMS FAMILY at 2 and 8 p.m. March 3, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. March 4 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701.
TICKETS: $42.50-$79.75 (including fees), except $11 Student Rush Tickets with current student ID.
Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787, TDD: 800-943-4327, or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/1551102/.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events/group_services/broadway_group_pricing.
VIDEO PREVIEW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DEo88DhE4Q&feature=youtu.be.
NOTE: Student Rush Tickets are $11 with current student ID. For details, click http://www.dpacnc.com/events/special_offers.
The Addams Family (musical): http://www.theaddamsfamilymusical.com/ (official Broadway website), http://www.theaddamsfamilymusicaltour.com/ (the official tour website), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Addams_Family_(musical) (Wikipedia), and http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?ID=484631 (Internet Broadway Database).
“The Addams Family” (television show): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Addams_Family_(TV_series) (Wikipedia) and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057729/ (Internet Movie Database).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.