THE ADDAMS FAMILY
I was thrilled to finally return to the Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks after such a long time. It’s one of the most comfortable venues in town!
And I’m happy to report that this new presentation from 5-Star Theatricals, The Addams Family, is up to their usual Broadway quality.
Last week-end was my third time seeing a production of this fun-filled, family-friendly musical in the past decade, and although I loved the others, as well, I was most impressed with this rendition.
The many timely, modern lines sprinkled throughout the script are hilarious! (And that I thoroughly enjoyed the show despite the woman next to me talking loudly the entire time, crunching cookies and chips and crushing up the bags to throw on the floor, and even pushing me, says a lot!)
The productions at the Kavli always have such appreciative audiences, and the assemblage on this opening night was even more so. They gave an incredible energy to the proceedings.
Even though the members of the Addams Family are basically cartoon characters, the musical has an actual story to it, and a good one, to boot.
I’m sure that everyone’s somewhat familiar with this crazy, macabre family, but even if you’re not, you’ll get into the swing of things pretty quickly. The show gets right into the fun with a big musical number, which sets the happy mood immediately.
The show itself is positively delightful, with so many clever bits and touches. (One of the book writers, Marshall Brickman, was also the head writer on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson at one time. I wish he had been there when I was a guest on that show; even though my appearances worked-out perfectly, I would have loved meeting such an expert writer to perhaps work with down the line!)
Here’s just one example of the creative script: Grandma says that her potions are so powerful they can “turn Mary Poppins into Medea,” to which Pugsley, the young son, whines,“I don’t understand your references!” She quickly reprimands him, “Stop that damn TikTok thing, and pick up a book every once in a while!” That got wild applause on opening night, especially from me!
As to the cast, the entire group is praiseworthy. Even the non-speaking deceased Addams ancestors are excellent.
But my favorite is Edward Staudenmayer, whose portrayal of Gomez is equal parts hilarious and sensitive. His performance is perfection. I made a note early on that “he’s great,” and then he just kept getting better and better. What a charming actor. He keeps the whole narrative moving.
My favorite number is Waiting, exuberantly performed by Trisha Rapier as Alice, the wife in the normal couple. It’s basically the show-stopper.
And those two actors were my faves before I even knew they’re my fellow UCLA-goers, who had both won the Carol Burnett Award! No wonder they’re so talented!
My friend Laura had her own favorites, mainly Andrew Metzger as Uncle Fester, who got laughs just about every time he even entered! Laura loved his expressiveness, pointing-out that his face and eyes were “very emotive.” She also admired the “great voice, with a beautiful tone to it” of Janelle Villas as Wednesday, the Addams daughter around whom this tale revolves.
A major perk for the local 5-Star Theatricals audiences in Thousand Oaks is that they usually get a famous person to star in their musicals, and this time is no different, with TV’s Teri Hatcher playing Morticia. I have to admit that even though of course I know who she is, I was not at all familiar with her acting, having seen none of Desperate Housewives and just one episode of Lois and Clark, (and only because Mr. X guest-starred on it.) And I’m happy to report that she makes a splendid Morticia!
She’s not really a singer, per se, but she does well enough in that department, and gets everything across to the audience that she needs to. Her musical numbers are all gravy, though; I’m sure she wasn’t cast for her singing, but rather for her acting and fame. (And I’m also sure we’d all kill for her body, which is unbelievably fabulous, especially for her age!)
Overall, The Addams Family is a joyous superbly-executed show. It features lots of impeccable physical comedy and plenty of fun surprises, especially one near the end of the show. (Here’s a small hint: keep your eyes on Aaron LaPlante as Lurch.) And the set is excellent, especially the spot-on backdrop of Central Park at night.
Speaking of the set, there are two really nice things I noticed in the program. (Please always read them, people!) The first is that the set, costumes, and props are provided by…3-D Theatricals, which is basically a competing regional theatre! I really love that cooperation—I actually got a tad choked-up when I read that credit!
The other is that the orchestra members are prominently featured in the program, on the same page as the Musical Numbers, and even listed above them! Mad respect, from the producers to the musicians and from me to the 5-Star Theatricals producers. [Note: To show you just how special that is, here’s a quick personal story: When Mr. X was starring in the Toronto leg of a Broadway musical, we decided to treat the cast and crew to a luxurious all-day party on a yacht in the harbor. I posted the invitation on the backstage bulletin board, and asked everyone to RSVP as soon as possible so I’d have a headcount. But I never heard from any of the musicians. So I asked some of them why they hadn’t let me know yet, and to my shock, they let out a collective, “We’re invited???” I answered, “Of course! Why would you think otherwise?” And they told me that in all their years of playing big shows, they had never been included in anything before. That’s how musicians are usually treated…in musicals, of all things!]
Besides that The Addams Family would be perfect at any time, there’s no better show to see right before Halloween, which makes it even more fun. But hurry—it’s here through just next week-end!
The Addams Family running through October 23, 2022
Bank of America Performing Arts Center–Kavli Theatre
2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd. Thousand Oaks