Theatre Mirror Review "The Addams Family"


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2014 by Tony Annicone

"The Addams Family"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

> Steps Off Broadway's current show is "The Addams Family". The Broadway version of this musical ran for 722 performances and is a funny and sentimental tribute to Charles Addams' beloved characters. This macabre tale explores the deliciously dark world of Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Grandma, Wednesday, Pugsley and of course, Lurch, Thing and cousin It. This weird and wonderful family comes to life in a story that is every 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 to not tell her mother. Now Gomez Addams must do something he's never done before, keep a secret from his wife, Morticia. Everything will change for the family on the fateful night they host a dinner for Wednesday's 'normal' boyfriend and his parents. Excellent direction by Michael LaFleur brings out the comic and macabre moments of this spooky musical with fabulous musical direction by Esther Zabinski and marvelous choreography by Keith Mottola. The audience gives a thunderous ovation to reward these hard working performers.

Michael always obtains terrific performances from his cast members and this show is no exception to that rule. He blocks the show splendidly, making sure everyone is able to be seen at all times. The musical numbers are topnotch especially the choral sound in the chorus songs including "When You're an Addams" when they celebrate what it means to be an Addams with their dead ancestors,"Full Disclosure" a parlor game song where they disclose a secret they have and sounds like "Both Reached for the Gun" from "Chicago"and "Move Towards Darkness" when they sing about becoming a united family again. The dinner sequence is similar to Patrick introducing Gloria to his family in "Mame" which garners hilarious results when the families meet each other. Some of Keith's dance numbers include the twist, the swim, bunny hop, line dancing, soft shoe and Tango, to name a few. Michael designed the set and it is very impressive especially the two story staircase while the multitude of costumes are by Katie Crugnola and Raymond DiLuzio with terrific lighting by Jim Gardner.. The well known TV song with snapping fingers is utilized in this stage show, too.

Leading this cast as Morticia is gorgeous statuesque red head, Polly Seale, a professional actress from LA. She does an excellent job and commands the stage in this role. Polly displays her singing voice in "Secrets" with Lucas' mother, where they share some of their innermost secrets together and "Just Around the Corner" where Morticia feels that her family no longer needs her. This number turns into an energetic soft shoe dance with the female ancestors. Her duet with David as Gomez is "Let's Live Before We Die" where Gomez confesses his undying love for Morticia. The marvelous tango occurs during "Tango De Amor" when Gomez and his wife finally reunite. I look forward to seeing Polly in the fall in "Carrie" the musical at Steps. David Sackel is marvelous as Gomez, handling the comic moments splendidly. I last reviewed him as Billy Flynn in "Chicago" at URI. David has a marvelous baritone voice and fantastic Spanish accent. All of Gomez's songs have a Spanish flair to them. He sings "Trapped" where he feels badly about keeping this secret from his wife, "Happy/Sad" when Gomez is happy Wednesday has found the man of her dreams but is sad because she will be leaving them and sings the poignant "Not Today" to Wednesday. Polly and David do a terrific job in these roles and have great chemistry together.

The rest of the cast lives up to the high standards of their leading players. Cara DiPietro is phenomenal as Wednesday. She makes her into a strong willed girl who doesn't take any nonsense from anyone. Cara possesses a fantastic singing voice and she stops the show with it. Her songs include the dynamic "Pulled" where Wednesday needs to decide between torturing Pugsley or being in love with Lucas and in "Crazier Than You" with her boyfriend and family where they can't decide which family is more wacky. Nathan Krishnasawmi is wonderful as the 'normal' Lucas.  He sings "Crazier Than You" where he finally admits his love for Wednesday and lets her shoot an apple off his head. Nathan and Cara have terrific chemistry together as this young couple in love. Ryan Leverone is a hoot as the wild and crazy Uncle Fester. He shaved his head for this role and sings "But Love" with his ancestors, telling them what his secret desires are while strumming a ukulele and in "The Moon and Me" where he declares his love for the moon. His songs are reminiscent of vaudeville style numbers. One of his funniest lines is to the moon, Alice, a comic line from the Honeymooners TV show with Jackie Gleason.

One of the biggest scene stealers in this show is Heather Bodnar as the ancient Grandma. She is a gorgeous gal in real life but the make up makes her into an old crone wonderfully. Her comic antics and clever and hilarious one liners are stellar. The audience learns Grandma likes to smoke joints in her room and no one in the family knows whose mother she really is. One of her funniest lines is to Pugsley, "Stay away from my stash or I'll rip your leg off". Nicholas Levine shines as Pugsley. His song is "What If", where he worries about losing Wednesday torturing him because of her new beau. The lyrics are hilarious to this number. Later on Pugsley steals one of Grandma's potions to bring out Wednesday's dark side so she will keep torturing him. Nicholas displays his strong talent as an actor at the age of 13. Jim Kopycinski as Lurch has many funny moments when he first meets  Lucas' parents and when he finally sings at the end of the show. Rounding out the cast as Lucas' parents are Lou DiPietro and Lauren Pelland as Mal and Alice Beineke. He wants his son to marry Wednesday while she continually spouts funny poems. They have many comic scenes together especially funny is when she sings "Waiting" after she accidentally drinks Pugsley secret potion. She confesses what is wrong with her marriage. Mal and Alice make up in "Crazier Than You" with hysterical results. Kudos to the cast and crew for a topnotch job singing and dancing in this new and entertaining musical treat. So for a trip back to the mysterious and kooky musical, be sure to catch "The Addams Family" at Steps Off Broadway before they blast off to the moon with Uncle Fester. Tell them Tony sent you.

"The Addams Family" (14 - 22 June)
@ 799 South Main Street, BELLINGHAM MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide