addams fam cast

Picture: Pamela Raith

The Addams Family

The Musical Comedy

The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

*****

It’s a rare thing to be completely satisfied with anything these days; we have come to live in a world where finding fault in just about everything has become a social media pastime.

So, to walk out of a theatre and have some reserves or issues or the feeling of it all not quite being right on the night is a natural thing. However The Addams Family, The Musical Comedy, sets a level of entertainment quality that other companies could only dream of.

On the face it, some might think transferring the TV and film antics of a ghoulish family might seem farfetched but then there’s The Rocky Horror Show. Or maybe odd to have dancing ghosts, well how about Michael Jacksons Thriller. Or even a gothic tale of dark evil deeds, well how about Sweeney Todd? In fact it’s all of these references and many more that make this musical so special.

Let’s start with the Marshall Brickman and Rick Elise script which has been edited down to perfection. It’s clever, witty and not one word feels superfluous but even then it allows for the tailoring of it to be brought bang up to date.

The music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa are on par with that of any other piece of musical theatre .Every song and minor segues is a delight, even when hearing it for the first time. Director Matthew White must have been pinching himself at acquiring such a highly skilled team of both technical staff and performers. The set by Diego Pitarch is one of the best I have seen, effectively allowing complex changes to happen yet never once affecting the flow of the stage action. Complemented by Ben Cracknells lighting design, the overall setting was flawless and showed exactly what is capable with a touring show.

A common mistake with musicals is the poor sound production but no worries here. Musical Director Bob Broad brought a precision to the live orchestra /band and for once the front of house sound, under the control of Richard Brooker, was West End quality with every nuance clear and loud enough to be heard.  

Choreographer Alistair David manages to add visual delight to even the straight dramatic scenes with dialogue adding set pieces involving the ghostly ensemble that are forever present. The full routines are spectacular.

Then there is the cast. Cameron Blakely might not to some seem at first glance to be the visual match for a Gomez, the slick Latin father of the household, but boy does he make the role his as there’s charm, wit and experience in his performance. His chemistry with Joanne Clifton, who plays Morticia, was a delight and Miss Clifton poured every ounce of herself into a very captivating performance both as her character, and when singing and dancing.

Kingsley Morton as Wednesday Addams delivered an impressively powerful musical theatre performance and knocked you out with her control and vocal range. Kara Lane as Alice Beineke manages to transform from the poetic mild housewife into the raw power of a female temptress in one solo spot that must be exhausting for her. Grant Macintyre as Pugsley had little to do vocally but then when presented with his own song proved what a great voice he had too.

Uncle Fester played by Scott Paige gets a fair amount of the centre stage and several pivotal songs and his slightly camp take on the character was highly entertaining. For much of the show, Lurch the Butler ,played by Dickon Gough, is reduced to mere groaning as his replies, yet in the final moments he comes to life and delivers a very emotional song and it’s a moment that surprises everyone. Ahmed Hamad as Lucas Beineke and Sean Kingsley as Mal Beineke also provided great supporting roles.

If this review seems a little over top then so be it. I would challenge anyone to go see this show and not come out saying they were not fully entertained and had more value than the price of their ticket.

Every word, song, action, and segue is honed to precision and the detail of the individual performances from everyone and overall staging is exceptional. The Addams Family is a genuinely funny, yet often touching, beautifully crafted family safe musical to which other productions will in time come to be judged by. To 22-01-22.

Jeff Grant

18-01-22

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