Play review: 'The Addams Family' Photo by Courtesy photo
Two teenagers meet romantically in a park, and it’s love at first sight. As they introduce their families to one another, both try to avoid embarrassment and gain the blessings of the parents. It sounds like a plot fit for a high school drama, not one featuring a semi-undead family of monsters. But 5th Avenue Theatre’s new musical, “The Addams Family,” pulls it off well.
Chances are you have seen the ghastly Addams Family in at least one form of media. Since their creation by Charles Addams in 1938, the family has appeared in cartoons, television series, movies, video games, and pinball machines. Following the next logical port, “The Addams Family” became a Broadway musical in 2010, and is now making the national rounds.
The daughter of the family, Wednesday Addams (Cortney Wolfson), falls in love with Lucas Beineke (Curtis Holbrook) after meeting him in Central Park. As the relationship progresses quickly and the two plan to get married, both families become uneasy. However, this causes both the Addams family and the Beineke family to examine their own marriages more critically. The teen angst in Wolfson’s and Holbrook’s performances is palpable, giving plenty of humor to the characters.
The plot may seem like a familiar one, and it indeed feels sluggish at times. Particularly in the second act, plot lines move slowly after an overly packed first act. Such pacing creates a choppy feel, but “The Addams Family” succeeds because of its constant humor. There are plenty of zombie jokes to be had, and the shock of the “normal” Beineke family becomes increasingly hilarious. Choreographed songs and dances featuring the zombie butler, Lurch, particularly stand out as crowd-pleasers, as actor Tom Corbeil does a good job of staying in character and not breaking out of rigor mortis.
But the musical applies its humor in various ways, and avoids being repetitive. The script jabs at the upcoming election, toward both liberals and conservatives, and especially at undecided voters. The play also makes fun of numerous pop-culture icons. Everyone from Charlie Sheen to Tyler Perry to the entire state of Florida is referenced in a humorous way. One of the most memorable one-liners comes when head of household Gomez Addams (Douglas Sills) confuses his ghostly wife for Cher.
With its bright and vibrant interior, the 5th Avenue Theatre is almost perfect for “The Addams Family.” The dark and creepy sets are well-done throughout the play, from the haunted mansion of the Addams’ house to a sinister Central Park. Coupled with excellent makeup, the ambiance adds a definite boost to the play by its juxtaposition with the humorous characters.
None of the acting performances stand out as excellent, but they are solid across the board. The best performance is from Sills as Gomez. Sills commands the stage well throughout the play as the main character. Many of the jokes told are downright crude, but the cast as a whole does a good job of playing along with them.
However, those annoying pacing issues inhibit the play. “The Addams Family” starts out fast, but the plot often stalls out. By the end, the run-time felt too long. Still, “The Addams Family” is very entertaining if not taken too seriously.
“The Addams Family” runs at 5th Avenue Theatre until Nov. 11.
The verdict: A well-crafted set and constant humor make “The Addams Family” a fun watch.
Reach reporter Nathaniel Reeves at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @njr3701
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