THE ADDAMS FAMILY
Run, don’t walk, to see this one! When it opened on Broadway a couple of years ago, I read only bad reviews. So, either those critics were crazy or they re-tooled the show before it hit LA. (As a matter of fact, several Broadway-savvy theatre-goers in attendance on opening night at the Pantages told me it had changed.) No matter what happened, a good time was had by all who saw it that night, none more so than the big guy next to me, who heartily guffawed through the whole show.
It seems like The Addams Family has been famous forever, first as a comic strip, followed by the television comedy series, then the animated ones, and finally the movie. (I even got called “Morticia” several times during my school years due to my long, straight hair, which I’m still rocking! I’ve occasionally had her long nails, as well, although they were never pointy, thank goodness!) And now we have The Musical. We Angelenos are lucky enough to get to see this show, and so many other Broadway musicals, because of Broadway LA. This organization should be lauded much more often than they are. I, for one, am grateful for their presence in this town!
Truth be told, I stayed in Los Angeles just to see the show, rather than taking an extra week-end in New York this trip. And I’m so glad I did!
The production was fun from the get-go. The audience had a buzz to it pre-curtain, and once it went up, everyone went nuts. There are always niche fans, (like in this case, of camp,) but this seemed different than at shows like Mamma Mia and Rock of Ages, (which I’m seeing again in New York next week.)
I’m sure everyone’s somewhat familiar with this crazy, macabre family, but even if you’re not, you can get into the swing of things right away. The show got right into the fun with a big musical number, which was great. Most other musicals start out slow and build to a big number, which sometimes makes it hard to appreciate for awhile.
Even though the members of the Addams Family is basically cartoon characters, the musical had an actual story to it, which was easy to follow, while still making clear to us who they are. I realized that I really didn’t know much about the characters and their back story before; I just seemed to always know of them, but never specifics. But now I know it all!
The show was positively delightful, with so many clever bits and touches. It’s no surprise that one of the book writers, Marshall Brickman, used to work with Woody Allen. (He was also at one time the head writer on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. I wish he had been there when I was on that show; whenever anyone wrote for me on those types of shows, my lines in the script always said “ad lib.” I would have loved working with a clever writer!)
The audience loved all the campy schtick. There was a lot of social commentary, which the audience ate up. Some was political, but the one line that got immediate applause and cheers was a line against texting. I was surprised that all the rude texters in the audience had time to take their digits off their phones long enough to clap!
I love Doug Sills, who stars as family patriarch, Gomez. I saw him years ago at the Ahmanson as the Tony-nominated Scarlet Pimpernel, and he was equally excellent in this one, even though he had only one number to really show off his gorgeous vocal chops. But his comic performance was superb.
There were really not many weaknesses in the whole show, on any level, although I wasn’t a fan of two of the performances. I recognize that Sara Gettelfinger was good as Morticia, but she just wasn’t my cup of tea, especially because of her “sh” rather than “s” lisp. And Martin Vidnovic, as the potential father-in-law to Addams daughter Wednesday, left something to be desired. He was the only cast member who didn’t shine on his own.
But everything else was so outstanding that I doubt those two bothered many other audience members.
One other slightly negative note: During the whole show, I was wishing that Morticia’s wig wasn’t so ratty. It was just so distracting. I always thought she was supposed to have gorgeous hair. (I may have to give up my plan to eventually cut my own luscious locks to donate to Locks of Love, and rather give it to this character instead.)
But everything else about it is a plus, including that there was a female conductor!!! I really never saw that before, in my hundred years of going to musicals!
And I loved the sets designed by Phelim McDermott, who I believe was also responsible for wonderful look of the “ancestors,” which is what they call the basic back-up ensemble. That troupe really added a lot to the show, especially with their “dead” looks, which were done beautifully, from their costumes to their hair and make-up, which were just perfect on every level. They really let us know these were dead people, without being gory.
My last thought on The Addams Family musical is: what a fun show to be in, I imagine! I have never had that thought about any other show ever, except perhaps one with Hugh Jackman. (Only because I love him, not due to the funny-ness of any show.) It’s great to the cast having as much as the audience.
So, as I said up front, run, don’t walk, to see this production as the Pantages in Hollywood as soon as you can. And bring your own family! They can’t be as crazy as this one, but hopefully for you, they are just as loving.
Addams Family running through June 17, 2012 Pantages Theatre 6233 Hollywood Blvd. 800-982-2727 www.BroadwayLA.org
Note: join me on Sunday night while I live-tweet the Tonys, (@KarenSalkin,) east coast time. (If you don’t want to know any results live, just check put my tweets later on.) (I may not even brag about which funniest female in the world told me to do it, but if you read my Celeb Sightings column next week, you just may be able to figure it out!)