note: entire contents copyright 2011 by Sheila Barth
They’re kooky and creepy, but that’s no reason to dislike “The Addams Family,” Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s two-act, two-hour touring musical production, starring Sara Gettelfinger, Douglas Sills, and a cast of 25 at the Citi Performing Arts Shubert Theatre. It closes Feb. 19.
The musical ran two years on Broadway, and the touring company has revamped songs, numbers, and choreography. This version attempts to target all ages, creating a wider spectrum of songs under a single plot, and should be taken at face value. It’s silly, nonsensical, peppered with techniques from other successful musicals - nuttiness of “Monty Python’s Spam,” a flash of Teyve’s stream-of-consciousness and paternal angst in “Fiddler on the Roof,” and flashy lighting, stage effects and puppetry prevalent in rock operas.
“The Addams Family” is based on Charles Addams’ cartoons, which were further popularized in the long-running TV comedy series of yore and movies. This version tackles the theme of what’s normal, and whether young love can survive under abnormal conditions.
Directors Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch designed the creepy set and costumes, and choreographer Sergio Trujillo engineered fun, not frightening, dance routines.
Basil Twist’s puppetry, especially young Pugley Addams’ dragon-type monster under his bed, along with dancing curtain cords and a hairy creature, are especially appealing to children.
Although Andrew Lippa’s songs and music aren’t outstanding, they’re hummable, with catchy lyrics, which conductor Valerie Gebert and orchestra punctuate nicely, especially during the overture and favorite number “When You’re An Addams”. The ensemble’s upbeat “Full Disclosure,” and cryptic, ancestral cadavers’ dance number, “One Normal Night,” followed by Gomez’s loving fatherly lament, “Happy/Sad,” and his and Morticia’s passionate dance, “Tango de Amor” are also noteworthy.
In fact, Douglas Sills as Gomez Addams is fantastic in every scene, supplying the right blend of sexiness, silliness, and sympatico, along with his splendid voice.
Sexy Morticia (Sara Gettelfinger) is vampiric, and her wacky husband, Gomez, is an incurable romantic. Their grownup daughter Wednesday (Cortney Wolfson) is pragmatic, yet bizarre; chubby young son Pugsley (Patrick D. Kennedy), a typical kid brother who enjoys his sister’s torture play sessions with him. Bald, chubby Uncle Fester (Blake Hammond), who’s also the narrator, looks fiendishly ghoulish but isn’t; wild 102-year-old Grandma, (Pippa Pearthree) runs around the place, carrying her huge pet rat and wheeling her cart of potions; while tall, thin butler, Lurch’s (Tom Corbeil) low, rumbling, deeply rich, operatic bass voice resounds in the crumbling residence.
When Wednesday meets Lucas Beineke of Ohio, after almost hitting him with an arrow from her crossbow, their courtship blooms. She invites him and his parents, Mal and Alice (who sunnily rhymes everything she says) to come for dinner and meet her family. Wednesday enlists her adoring dad to rally the family into behaving like normal folks - whatever that is. To ensure the couple’s love endures, Fester summons and enlists the aid of generations of grisly gray cadavers from the family crypt.
Fester’s in love, too - with the moon. He sings “The Moon and Me,” to the glowing white orb during a fantasy scene, surrounded by his ghostly ensemble, dressed in striped, old-fashioned bathing suits. Then, he flies to the moon, his face imprinted on it, while the chorus’ visages convert to singing stars. Yup, it’s as weird as it sounds, but the effects are eye-catching.
Cortney Wolfson shines during her solos, unearthing her fine voice. However, Brian Justin Crum (of “Next to Normal,” “Grease” and “Tarzan” fame), is underutilized as Lucas, while Crista Moore as Alice is a sunny foil to Gettelfinger’s morbid Morticia. Broadway’s Martin Vidnovic is also overshadowed as Lucas’ bland dad.
BOX INFO: Two-act musical comedy, book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, music, lyrics by Andrew Lippa, based on characters created by Charles Addams; appearing at the Citi Performing Arts Shubert Theatre, 270 Tremont St., Boston, through Feb. 19, with performances Tuesday-Thursday, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $33-$103. Visit www.citicenter.org, or call 866-348-9738.