Theatre Mirror Reviews "The Addams Family"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


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entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone

"The Addams Family"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Providence College's autumn show this year is "The Addams Family" which is based on the Charles Addams macabre characters from his single panel gag cartoons not the TV or movie versions. The Broadway musical ran for 722 performances and starred Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth as Gomez and Morticia Addams. This wild and wacky tale explores the deliciously dark world of Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Grandma, Wednesday, Pugsley and of course, Lurch and Thing. This weird and wonderful family comes to life in every story that is a father's nightmare. Wednesday Addams, the princess of darkness, has grown up and fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family, a man her parents have never met. And if that weren't upsetting enough, Wednesday confides in her father and begs him not to tell her mother. Now Gomez must do something he's never done before. keep a secret from his wife, Morticia. So everything will change on the fateful night they host a dinner for Wednesday's "normal" boyfriend and his parents. Terrific direction by Jimmy Calitri, topnotch musical direction from Lila Kane and superb choreography by Chelsea Cook enthrall the audience from start to finish in this spooky musical treat with their talented cast members.

Jimmy infuses his cast with high energy and clever shtick and bits of business to tickle your funny bone while Lila leads a seven piece orchestra while playing lead keyboards. She also taught the cast the many intricate lyrics and melodies, maintaining harmonic balance between cast and orchestra. Standout group numbers include "When You're an Addams", with their dead ancestors celebrating what it means to belong to this family, "Full Disclosure" which sounds like "They Both Reached for the Gun" from "Chicago", and "Move Towards Darkness" when they reunite as a family at last with Fester blasting off to the moon. The parlor game dinner song is reminiscent of Patrick and Gloria meeting each others family in "Auntie Mame." Some of Chelsea's phenomenal dances include the twist, the swim, the tango, the bunny hop, line dancing, Busby Berkley and soft shoe to name a few. The two story set with turntable compartments to change the scenes quickly is by resident scenic designer from 2nd Story Theatre, Trevor Elliott and the fantastic macabre costumes are by David Costa-Cabral who designed many musicals at Theatre by the Sea and next season will be designing "West Side Story" and "Wizard of Oz" for them.

Leading this cast is Brian Kozak as Gomez. He is marvelous in this role as he handles the many comic moments and lines with finesse. Brian has a topnotch Spanish accent and a strong singing voice. All of Gomez's numbers have a Spanish flair to them. Brian sings "Trapped" when he anguishes over keeping the secret from his beloved wife, "Happy/Sad" when he's glad Wednesday found the man of her dreams but unhappy that she will be leaving the family and sings the poignant "Not Today" to Wednesday. Gomez's duet with Morticia is "Let's Live Before We Die" where he expresses his undying love for her and especially outstanding is the sexy "Tango De Amor" with fantastic dance steps by Chelsea. I last reviewed Brian as the lead in "Imaginary Invalid" last year at Providence College. Courtney Olenzak plays the sexy and slinky, Morticia. She delivers the goods as this macabre character with her portrayal. Her voice is heard in "Secrets" with Luke's mother where they tell each other about their husbands and in "Just Around the Corner", a vaudeville type song which turns into a huge dance with the female ancestors that stops the show. Her duet with Brian and especially their tango numbers are where she also shines. I last reviewed Courtney in "Marie Antoinette" this past February. They have a lot of chemistry together.

The rest of the cast is as talented as the two leading players. Katrina Pavao is phenomenal as Wednesday. She delivers a tour-de-force performance with her enigmatic acting prowess. Her powerful voice is heard in "Pulled" where she has to decide whether to continue torturing her brother or marry her one true love, Lucas and in "Crazier Than You" where they declare their love for each other. The two of them and his parents join in on this song. Katrina did a marvelous job in "Blithe Spirit" as Elvira. Playing Lucas, the "normal" boyfriend is Billy O'Brian. He does a wonderful job with some great facial expressions when Lucas and his family meet the Addams family. As Lucas he finally lets his hair down when he allows Wednesday to shoot an apple off his head with a bow and arrow guided by the Addams ancestors. Billy 's strong voice is heard in "Crazier Than You" with Katrina. The biggest scene stealer in this show is Patrick Rogers as the wild and crazy, Uncle Fester. He narrates parts of the show and strums the ukulele. His two numbers are "But Love" with the ancestors and in "The Moon and Me", he does a show stopping dance with them. His antics are priceless.

Another scene stealer is Elizabeth Jancsy as Grandma. Her clever antics and comic one liners bring about gales of laughter. We learn she likes to smoke joints in her room and nobody knows whose mother she really is. One of her funniest lines is telling Pugsley to stay away from her shit or she'll rip his leg off. Josh Hanby shines as Pugsley. He is only an 8th grade school student but displays a strong acting prowess at a young age. His song is "What If?" where he worries about losing Wednesday torturing him to her new beau. The lyrics to this song are hysterical. Later on Pugsley steals one of Grandma's potions with hilarious and unexpected results. He has a bright future in show business. Veronica Murphy as Lurch has many funny moments when the butler first meets Lucas and his parents as well as when Lurch starts to sing near the end of the show. Rounding out the cast as Lucas' parents are Logan Serabian as Mal and Jennifer Dorn as Alice. He wants his son to marry Wednesday and she spouts funny poems but her best moment comes during "Full Disclosure" when she explains what is wrong with her marriage at the end of Act 1. Her powerful voice soars in "Full Disclosure." Mal and Alice eventually make up with hilarious results during "Crazier Than You". I last reviewed Jennifer as Ruth in "Blithe Spirit." The Ancestors do a bang up job with their dancing and vocal skills during the show. So for a trip back to the wild and wacky Addams Family, be sure to catch "The Addams Family" musical at Providence College before Uncle Fester blasts off to the moon. These college students do an amazing job on this musical entertainment.

"The Addams Family" (30 October - 8 November)
@ Angell Blackfriars Theatre, Eaton Street,PROVIDENCE RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide