July 16, 2010

Not all together Ooky

Because of my love for all things weird and satirical, I was a fan of the television series The Addams Family. (I always liked them better than The Munsters.) So I was most excited about the Broadway musical version. Especially when I heard Bebe Neuwirth was cast as Morticia. It was a treat to watch her. Her beauty, gracefulness, the Dr. Lilith Crane-like impassive delivery. Although she did have a tango number, I wanted to see more dancing from her. As a character though, Morticia undergoing some sort of mid-life crisis seemed counter-intuitive. We all know who's the real head of this family.
The plot borrows from La Cage Aux Folles: Boy meets girl and they fall in love. Parents get invited to dinner for a meet-n-greet. Odd family tries to pretend they're normal.
While you get an enjoyable time at the theatre, it wasn't the "creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky" family I love. Perhaps I didn't know what to expect. I imagine it's difficult to translate the ghoulish cleverness of the cartoons and sitcom onto the stage. Andrew Lippa's Tony-nominated score is nondescript. Some of the jokes verge on the corny, and one can almost feel the cast working hard for the laughs. The set design and special effects however, are very impressive. The cast members look like their cartoon counterparts and the mansion is eerie and elegant.
Nathan Lane is at his usual comedic best. Although there were times I felt I was watching Max Bialystock. With a vaguely Spanish accent.
Adam Riegler as Pugsley Addams, who just wants his normally abnormal sister back.
Krysta Rodriguez as Wednesday. I was expecting wittily deadpan. (Think Christina Ricci in the film version.) But then again, they made Wednesday older. And in love. And perhaps love made her moodier and ill-tempered.
Wesley Taylor as Lucas Beineke, the hapless normal boy in love with an Addams.
Kevin Chamberlin is Uncle Fester, who serves as narrator/observer/plot mover. Mr. Chamberlin was deservedly nominated for a Tony for Featured Actor in a Musical. His bizarre number, "The Moon and Me" was strangely entertaining and wistful.
Kevin's theatre dog. I think he said his name's Sam.
The hilarious Jackie Hoffman is Grandma, another brilliant piece of casting. I want to know how much ad-libbing she's doing.
Carolee Carmello as Alice Beineke, the straight arrow Mom/poet from Ohio. Her song "Waiting" is a highlight of the first act. Terrence Mann plays her husband Mal. (I was disappointed he slipped out early after the performance. I wanted to tell him how I loved his Javert.)
Zachary James as the man-servant Lurch. Mostly silent, he manages to steal quite a few scenes.
Lead stars Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth don't come out between shows.


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