Story: There’s hell to pay, which generally is OK with Morticia Addams, when she suspects that her beloved husband, Gomez, is keeping a secret from her. That’s not happened before in their boisterous, 25-year marriage, which generally has been a quarter-century of good times in their decrepit home hidden (somehow) within New York City’s fabled Central Park.
This time, though, is different. Seems that their daughter Wednesday has fallen in love with a lad named Lucas, and she’s invited him and his parents to the Addams manse for dinner. Lucas plans to announce at that time that he and Wednesday are engaged to be married. Wednesday tells her father this, but with the proviso that he not mention it to her mother, because she doesn’t want Morticia intruding.
So, while Gomez’s silly brother, Uncle Fester, doddering mother, son Pugsley and seldom-speaking butler Lurch go about their normal abnormal behavior, Gomez spends his time coming with ways to avoid Morticia’s suspicions, unsuccessfully, of course. When the Beinekes arrive from Ohio, it’s culture clash time on top of the increasing tension between Gomez and Morticia.
Highlights: It’s The Muny premiere of the musical based on Charles Addams’ long-running series of cartoons about the macabre Addams Family that ran for decades in The New Yorker. The musical originally opened on Broadway in 2010 and closed at the end of 2011.
Director Marcia Milgrom Dodge and her cast seem to relish their roles in The Muny’s version, serving up a heaping portion of ghoulish jokes and bizarre situations.
Other Info: The problems with The Addams Family musical have more to do with the original work than with The Muny’s production, which is faithful to the book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice.
First, it’s questionable how many people under age 30 even are aware of the original Addams cartoons and, if they are, probably most are more familiar with the 1960s TV series version or the two movies that came later.
Second, we’ve seen this ‘fiance’s family meets the unusual family of his/her betrothed’ before, such as in You Can’t Take It with You or La Cage aux Folles. It’s tired territory in that regard, no matter what transpires in The Addams Family musical. Alas, what does occur is the same routine, so the element of surprise isn’t apparent.
Andrew Lippa provides the music and lyrics, which are frequently forgettable but do include a couple of noteworthy numbers, particularly Morticia’s amusing lament, Just Around the Corner, that opens Act II.
Jenny Powers relishes her role as Morticia and plays it to the hilt. She’s sexy and demanding in equal portions, and can wither a flower at 40 paces with just a look. Sara Kapner as Wednesday seems to be following in Morticia’s footprints, every bit as commanding with her fiancé and also showing a deft touch with the crossbow as well.
Muny favorite Rob McClure (Shrek, Mary Poppins) has a grand time as Gomez, although he seems to go over the top a bit too often with the wearying Spanish schtick. Steve Rosen is a delight as wacky Uncle Fester, even coming out solo on stage to do a mini stand-up routine to start the second act.
Local child performer Michael Harp is a splendid Pugsley, who enjoys his sister’s punishments. Youthful Jennifer Cody camps it up humorously as Gomez’s (Morticia’s?) randy, rowdy and ancient mother, and William Ryall is a hoot as the slow-moving, slow-thinking Lurch, especially near the show’s finale when he kicks into dance mode.
Dan DeLuca has the hapless task of playing the bland Lucas, while John Scherer and Hollis Resnik get to stretch their thespian muscles a bit more as Lucas’ repressed parents, who eventually recapture their reckless youth. Josh Walden makes a brief appearance as Gomez’ independent shadow.
The cartoon-style set is courtesy of Michael Schweikardt, with lighting provided by Nathan Scheuer. Seth Jackson’s video design adds a humorous touch to accentuate Uncle Fester’s infatuation with the moon. Jason Krueger adds the sound design and Andrea Lauer’s costumes underscore the Addams Family’s penchant for the dark and dreary as well as the Beineke’s ‘hick’ attire.
Ben Whiteley’s musical direction gets the most out of the uninspiring Lippa score, while Vince Pesce adds choreography that effectively stretches out various numbers.
The Addams Family doubtless will appeal to folks unfamiliar with La Cage or You Can’t Take It with You, as well as fans of the TV series and movies, and maybe even the original cartoons themselves. Too bad the musical lacks that originality.
Musical: The Addams Family
Company: The Muny
Venue: The Muny in Forest Park
Dates: Through July 20
Tickets: Free to $85; contact 314-534-1111 or metrotix.com
Rating: A 3.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.
Photos courtesy of Phillip Hamer