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Theater review: Spend a night with ‘The Addams Family’
By LUCIA ANDERSON
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Everything is miserable at the Addams family home, and that’s just the way they like it.
Except, what’s this? Wednesday Addams, heretofore as darkly weird as the rest of her relatives, is singing ditties and gamboling in the sunshine!
Turns out Wednesday has fallen in love. And the object of her affections is the son of a respectable (gasp) family from Ohio. And she’s invited his parents for dinner to meet her family. And made her father promise not to tell her mother that she and Lucas plan to marry.
Well, as one could have predicted, the evening does not go well. In fact, far from ensuring Lucas and Wednesday’s future happiness, the encounter creates fractures in the parents’ marriages. Both sets.
The plus of “The Addams Family,” onstage in the Kennedy Center’s Opera House, is that one gets to share the evening with those beloved Addamses. They’re all there—Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Uncle Fester, Grandma and Lurch.
There are lots of funny lines and sight gags. Morticia, when stressed, takes comfort in knowing that death is just around the corner. She soothes Pugsley to sleep by assuring him that there really is a monster under his bed.
One of the funniest bits is the growing relationship between Cousin Itt and the gold tassel from the stage curtain.
The minus of the show is the musical part. Many of the songs, written by Andrew Lippa, are less than inspiring, and Sergio Trujillo’s choreography is generally insipid.
There are exceptions. “Full Disclosure,” where Lucas’s mother discards her 1950s-housewife mask, is a hoot. The Rockette-style chorus line in “[Death Is] Just Around the Corner” brings a laugh, and Uncle Fester’s love song to the moon, “The Moon and Me” turns out to be hilarious after a dorky start. And Morticia and Gomez dance up a storm in “Tango de Amor.”
The whole song thing is not helped by an overloud orchestra and enunciation difficulties, which make it hard to understand the lyrics. Often the set-up comes through just fine, only to lose the punch line.
It should be noted that the Broadway version of the show was revised for the tour. Some of the Broadway songs were cut, as were some of the scenes, and a few new songs were added.
The cast does its best with the material provided. Notable voices include Douglas Sills as Gomez, Sara Gettelfinger as Morticia, Patrick D. Kennedy as Pugsley and Gaelen Gilliland as Alice, Lucas’s mother.
The set design by Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott deserves mention, particularly the wonderful red velvet curtains (to which the gold tassel used to be attached), which part now this way, now that way to frame different scenes.
Basil Twist’s puppetry also adds considerably to the show. (See tassel and monster, above).
Bottom line? Depends on how fond you are of the Addams Family. And the Kennedy Center is air-conditioned.
What: “The Addams Family”
Where: Kennedy Center Opera House, Washington, D.C.
When: Through July 29
Info: 800/444-1324; kennedy-center.org
Lucia Anderson is a writer in Woodbridge.