The Addams Family

Wolverhampton Grand


Just a few bars of the finger snapping theme tune - fingers supplied by The Thing which had found a new home behind a letter box - and I was a teenager back in the 60s again.

The Addams Family, based on Charles Addams New Yorker cartoons, along with its CBS copycat rival The Munsters, a sort of Addams family lite, were cult teenage viewing in the black and white days along with the likes of Dr Who, and the wonderful Telegoons – whatever happened to them?

The TV series was irreverent fun, a Gothic monument to humour of the most fetching shades of black, and this wonderful musical has captured the spirit of the Addams brood perfectly. They are a family who make merely weird look perfectly normal, all led by Gomez, with his Spanish ancestry, most of whom appear to be dead and well, and living, or whatever dead ancestors who can still sing and dance do, in a crypt in the garden.

Gomez is played quite superbly by Cameron Blakely. He is funny with some great lines delivered with impeccable timing, one moment moving around the stage like a Jack Russell on amphetamines, the next, singing a gentle ballad, such as What If – gentle being a relative term in a family where bricking your brother up in a wall is a sign of affection.

And speaking of affection, the object of Gomez’s undying, or in this case, dying love is his wife Morticia, in a delightfully dark performance from Samantha Womack who glides around the stage in “a dress cut down to Venezuela!”. It is a relationship based on trust and . . . tango – with a demonstration Len Goodman would have been proud of in the second act.

As for their children . . . first there is daughter Wednesday, who is, if not within touching distance, probably not more than a day’s train journey away from being normal, especially if you ignore the crossbow she carries around with her to shoot anything that moves.

gomez and Morticia

Love at first fright: Cameron Blakely as Gomez and Samantha Womack as Morticia

Carrie Hope Fletcher has some lovely touches in the role with some deadpan, matter of fact sadism in the regular torture of younger brother Pugsley, who, by lucky co-incidence, appears to be a masochist. There is a lovely moment as Gomez and Morticia show complete indifference carrying on their conversation as poor Pugsley languishes on the family rack.

Pugsley is played by Grant McIntyre, with that air of the frustrated younger sibling afraid of being left alone in the nest if big sister leaves. Who will play with him on the rack then?

And leave she might after she falls for Lucas Beineke, a regular teenager, played like, well, a regular teenager, by Oliver Ormson.  Lucas is normal, although as Valda Aviks as Grandma Addams says: “Define normal”.

Aviks plays the role by embracing that great sense of don’t care what you say fun enjoyed by only those of more mature years, along with sharing plenty of information, wanted or not, on her bodily functions.

Les Dennis was to have played Gomez’s brother Uncle Fester but was indisposed so up stepped young Scott Paige from his spear carrying role, literally, as a Roman ancestor, into the role of, in Fester’s own words, a fat, bald person of no specific sexuality, and, I am sorry Les, but you were not missed at all. Paige nailed it in spades with a terrific sense of fun and a good voice.

And speaking of voices, the cast can sport two operatically trained members and boy did it show. Andrew Lippa’s clever music and lyrics were well performed by the entire cast, with the essential element, the words with their jokes and asides, brought out well, but the music had two standout moments when first Charlotte Page, who played Lucas’s homely mum Alice, sang Waiting, and in the final scene when Dickon Gough, as Lurch, whose only utterances in his painfully slow movement around the stage, had been guttural grunts, unleashes his wonderful deep, rich bass voice to sing Move Toward The Darkness, a voice last heard in these regions in La Bohème at Coventry Belgrade.

And bringing up the rear is Dale Rapley as Lucas’s dad Mal, a once rebel rocker who is now so “normal” he is boring.

The crux of the plot is the meeting of the two families for the meet the parents dinner, when Lucas’s Ohio resident mother and father, who already think New Yorkers are weird, have their suspicions confirmed and then some when they meet the Addams.

The night leads to revelations and reawakenings, confessions and making up on all sides as we head for the inevitable happy ending to maintain the tradition of The Addams Family where despite all its ghoulish humour and macabre jokes, talk of torture and death, no one ever actually gets hurt.

The book by Marshal Brickman and Rick Elice is witty, funny and full of Ghoulish charm, if there is such a thing, while director Matthew White maintains interest with a good pace helped by the ever-moving Gothic set from Diego Pitarch which has staircases and walls walls, gates and tombs which drop in and out from the flies or are pushed into position by the 10 ancestors who act as stage hands and chorus – choreography Alistair David – with never a break in action.

Ben Cracknell’s lighting and Richard Booker’s sound design is effective with enough cues to keep the technicians on their toes while the eight-piece orchestra under musical director Andrew Corcoran give us everything from Hammer Horror scary music to comedy with equal panache.

The result is a slick, fast moving Broadway show, full of fun and laughs which is solid gold – or should that be shiny jet – entertainment from beginning to end. To 21-10-17.

Roger Clarke


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