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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"The Addams Family" Musical Brings Frightful Fun toThe 5th Avenue Theatre—A Review With Video

When it comes to families, there is no such thing as normal. But if you think your own seems more bizarre than most, just spend an evening with TheAddams Family. You can meet its macabre but loving members in a new musical comedy by that name, playing at The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle Oct. 24 – Nov. 11, 2012.

Patrick D. Kennedy (Pugsley), Pippa Pearthree (Grandma), Sara Gettelfinger (Morticia), Douglas Sills (Gomez), Tom Corbeil (Lurch), Cortney Wolfson (Wednesday) and Blake Hammond (Uncle Fester) in THE ADDAMS FAMILY.
Photo: Jeremy Daniel

In all began back in 1938. In that year, The New Yorker Magazine started to feature the cartoons of Charles Addams, the man who created this fictional family whose calendar seems stalled on Halloween. Anyone old enough to have watched television during the 1960s will remember the TV show called The Addams Family. It premiered on ABC in 1964 and lasted for 64 episodes. In 1991, Paramount released a motion picture version. Then, after three years of development, the musical The Addams Family opened on Broadway on March 8, 2010. The talented team of Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, who also did Jersey Boys, wrote the book, and the music and lyrics are by Andrew Lippa. This run at The 5th Avenue is the show’s Seattle debut, during its first national tour.

I greatly enjoyed becoming reacquainted with the lead couple, whose romance is still as hot as a crematorium, after all these years: Latin lover and husband Gomez (Douglas Sills) and morbidly sexy wife Morticia (Sara Gettlefinger).  The length of her straight, black hair only slightly exceeds that of the plunging neckline of her equally black dress. Remember their plump and mischievous son Pugsley (Patrick D. Kennedy) and darkly disturbing daughter Wednesday (Cortney Wolfson)? Don’t forget Uncle Fester (Blake Hammond), Grandma Frump (Pippa Pearthree), and the towering butler, Lurch (Tom Corbeil).
Blake Hammond (Uncle Fester) in THE ADDAMS FAMILY
Photo: Jeremy Daniel
This musical won’t change your life, but it offers a lighthearted good time. I went to the theater like a trick-or-treater who was skeptical about the treats being worth the trip, only to be surprised by this deliciously offbeat entertainment. At times, the show felt a little like vaudeville, with all its song and dance along with good old-fashioned physical comedy, always executed with skill. Corbeil, as Lurch, inspired many bursts of laughter from the audience with his movements.
Pippa Pearthree (Grandma) and Patrick D. Kennedy (Pugsley) in THE ADDAMS FAMILY.
Photo: Jeremy Daniel
The Addams Family, while hardly profound, does manage to communicate worthwhile messages using charm, wit, whimsy and plenty of hilarious one-liners. Satire relevant to current events adds spice. Sills’ delivery kept Gomez’s most sentimental lyrics from turning into syrup and Gettlefinger gave her character, Morticia, enough sarcasm and cynicism to balance their personalities as a couple with good chemistry.
Douglas Sills (Gomez) and Sara Gettelfinger (Morticia) in THE ADDAMS FAMILY.
Photo: Jeremy Daniel
The story revolves around a familiar theme: a young person introducing their sweetheart to the family for the first time, prior to the announcement of an engagement. But when the betrothed female happens to be the cute but creepy Wednesday Addams—and her boyfriend, Lucas Beineke (Curtis Holbrook), is from a so-called “normal” family—the weirdness factor raises the level of conflict. The Beineke parents—Alice (Gaelen Gilliland) and Mal (Martin Vidnovic) are in for some surprises when they arrive at the Addams family’s home for dinner. But in the end, both parties come to new realizations about themselves as well as about each other, reminding us to reconsider the meanings of words like normal and family.
Photo: Jeremy Daniel

This show offers plenty of visual appeal, from the heavy, red velvet, draped stage curtains to some intriguing special effects. The orchestra sets just the right mood, delivering those chilling organ strains and dance numbers with finesse. I greatly admired the stage sets, lighting and costumes, especially the graveyard scenes. They featured a leafless tree silhouetted against the sky, where a huge full moon looked down upon the dancing ghosts of some interesting ancestors who were still involved with family matters.
The Ancestors of THE ADDAMS FAMILY.
Photo: Jeremy Daniel

It’s tame in terms of horror, yet twisted enough to satisfy the desire some have to dwell on images of death, torture, pain, and fear. In this case, however, we find those images framed in genuinely funny humor and surprisingly realistic relationship issues, involving trust, loyalty, confidences, letting go, and forgiving. Some situations might involve your darkest fantasies, if you remember torturing your pesky younger siblings. In the case of the Addams children, it involves real medieval tools of torture. But don’t worry. The recipient enjoys it.
Cortney Wolfson (Wednesday) and Patrick D. Kennedy (Pugsley) in THE ADDAMS FAMILY.
Photo: Jeremy Daniel

The Addams Family might not represent your definition of normal domestic life, but even as warped as they are, they’re good company and more fun than many families I know. In a time when gore-filled and terrifying horror movies rank as entertainment, this simple spookiness felt good. However, there is one question for which I’d like an answer. With all her dancing and movement, how does Morticia keep her feminine charms from escaping that dress?
Sara Gettelfinger (Morticia) and Company in THE ADDAMS FAMILY.
Photo: Jeremy Daniel
Copyright 2012 Candace J. Brown

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