BWW Reviews: THE ADDAMS FAMILY Needs More Trick But Still A Treat
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by Jay Irwin
It's Halloween time and so the 5th Avenue Theatre has chosen to fill up our candy bags with a spooky little treat with "The Addams Family". And while this may not be the equivalent of the house on the block that's giving out the full size chocolate bars, it's far from the house that's handing out toothbrushes and dental floss. It's definitely the fun size candies and you can take a few of them.
Based on the New Yorker cartoons from Charles Addams of the 60's and of course the iconic TV show, we join the Addams' as they take their annual moonlight stroll through the graveyard to honor their deceased ancestors, who of course join them on this stroll. And while Gomez (Douglas Sills) and Moritcia (Sara Gettelfinger) may think their lives are their usual creepy bliss, there's a bit of news that may destroy them. Their stoic daughter Wednesday (Cortney Wolfson) has fallen in love with a boy and wants to get married. And not just any boy but a boy from Ohio with a (gulp) normal family. And now this boy Lucas (Curtis Holbrook) and his parents Mal (Martin Vidnovic) and Alice (Gaelen Gilliland) Beineke are coming to dinner. And before the evening is up secrets and issues will be revealed which may destroy the families.
OK, so the show is fun. It's those iconic characters that we love and really that's half the battle right there. Unfortunately the show has an identity problem, as it's not sure whom it's about. Is the show about Morticia and Gomez, Wednesday and Lucas, Mal and Alice, or Fester and his new love? Fester (Blake Hammond) even has his own love song in the show that, while way too much fun, is completely out of place. I can only imagine that they left it in as it is too much fun (and the staging of it is killer). But without that identity the show lacks the focus and drive it needs to be great.
The cast however is great. I was fortunate enough to see the original cast complete with Nathan Lane and Bebe Newirth as Gomez and Morticia and Sills and Gettelfinger in many ways surpass them. Gettelfinger may not be as iconic a Morticia as I would have liked (I never new she was southern) but if you can get past that she is one of the most fun performers to watch. Her spirit and bliss for every role she plays always shines through. And Sills, well oh my God! My biggest complaint with Lane playing the role was that he wasn't Gomez he was Nathan Lane. Sills manages to practically channel all that Gomez should be and walks off with the show. I really cannot think of a better actor for the role except maybe John Astin (the original Gomez from the 60's) himself. And the two have incredible chemistry together. Hammond is superb in the role of Fester and, all complaints about the song aside, takes his big number to the moon and beyond. Wolfson and Holbrook are fun in their roles although I felt Wolfson could have gone darker with Wednesday. Lucas was darker than her at times. Vidnovic and Gilliland totally sell the Beineke's as they go from repressed suburbanites to free spirits. And the rest of the family is rounded out nicely with Pippa Pearthree as Grandma, Tom Corbeil as the hilarious Lurch and Patrick D. Kennedy as the masochistic Pugsley.
While the show has a ton going for it, it also has its pitfalls. And on the whole the family just doesn't seem dark or dangerous enough. But even so it's still a creepy, kooky, mysterious, spooky, all together ooky good time. (Snap snap)
"The Addams Family" plays at the 5th Avenue Theatre through November 11th. For tickets or information contact the 5th Avenue box office at 206-625-1900 or visit them online at www.5thavenue.org.
Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel