Maryland performances including Theater, plays, ballet and opera
- Published on Friday, 13 July 2012 17:45
- Written by Valerie Dunn
Dead ancestors don jazz fingers, pallor leads to passion, and torture devices are permitted during intermission. With original direction by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, "The Addams Family" turns the creepy and kooky into a delightful musical comedy.
Staged for a short time in the Kennedy Center's beautiful Opera House, "The Addams Family" displays in full force the all-together lovable family from the mind of cartoonist Charles Addams. When the eternally dreary Wednesday Addams falls for normal boy Lucas Beineke, Gomez Addams faces the impossible task of determining the limits of love. Bursting with wildly entertaining musical numbers, "The Addams Family" leads the audience toward the darkness in the hunt for a happy ending.
As Gomez Addams, Douglas Sills is larger than life with charisma to wake the dead. Sara Gettelfinger as Morticia Addams matches Sills's passion with seductive darkness. As husband and wife, Sills and Gettelfinger provide a surprisingly optimistic symbol for modern marriage. The couple particularly shines and intertwines in Act Two's gothic "Tango de Amor."
Interacting directly with the audience, the moon and the deceased, Blake Hammond brings Uncle Fester to life with deadly humor. As Uncle Fester schemes to preserve young love, he bounds on and above the stage, sending the audience into constant hysterics. Pippa Pearthree is wonderfully ancient as Grandma, Patrick D. Kennedy's Puglsey steals the heart of even his soulless stage sister, and Tom Corbeil treats the lifeless Lurch with endearing simplicity.
The cripplingly normal Beineke family provides a necessary juxtaposition to the odd Addams. With Martin Vidnovic as father-figure Mal and Gaelen Gilliland as the rhyming and repressed mother Alice, the family struggles to maintain their restlessly weird son Lucas, played by Brian Justin Crum. Even when visiting the Addams family, however, the Beineke family members host their own array of quirks.
When these two very different families collide on stage, the effect dazzles with pleasant absurdity. Though the Addams and the Beinekes make varying degrees of effort to reach a mutual acceptance, finding such an understanding provides more hijinks than can fit in a manor. As the families feud, they ultimately leave the audience to sympathize with the strange and shy from the normal.
Lavish decay oozes from the set, providing the perfect backdrop for dancing dead ancestors. The costumes of these ancestors in particular show remarkable attention to detail. With every intention of exaggerating the dark décor of the Addams family, the creative team provides a vision that is thoroughly captivating. Perhaps the most remarkable feat of the musical's ability, then, is found in the miraculous lightheartedness that shines through this morbid appearance.
Though more modern than the original television show, "The Addams Family" musical resonates with family values. As Morticia Addams wisely notes, "Living or dead, family is still family." With song and dance that will entertain the entire family, "The Addams Family" proves a delightful marriage of the campy and the ghoulish.
"The Addams Family" runs through July 29, 2012 (Tues.-Sun.), at The Kennedy Center's Opera House, Washington, D.C. Tickets are available at kennedy-center.org.
Valerie Dunn is an English and drama double major at Washington College, Chestertown. In addition to writing reviews for the college's newspaper, Valerie is spokesperson for the Writer's Union and assistant artistic director of the Independent Playhouse. She enjoys tea and grammar.