The Addams Family

April 26, 2017 | By | Reply More

★★★★☆  Slick

Festival Theatre: Thurs 20 – Sat 29 April 2017
Review by Hugh Simpson

Hugely energetic, reliably tuneful and packed with more fun than could reasonably be expected, The Addams Family is always going to be a great success.

In among all of the jukebox musicals and films turned into musicals, it is refreshing to see a show based on a series of New Yorker cartoons – although, admittedly, Charles Addams’s Gothic inversion of the all-American nuclear family has featured in several other media in the interim.

The Addams Family. Photo Matt Martin

The successful Broadway musical is making its professional British debut here, presented by Aria Entertainment and Music & Lyrics in association with the Festival Theatre. Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s book features a somewhat conventional love story, as daughter Wednesday wants to marry her more commonplace boyfriend Lucas Beineke. This involves enlisting the help of father Gomez, much to the chagrin of mother Morticia.

There is a slightly self-referential air to the piece that evokes Spamalot at times in its knowing feel to how the source is treated, and to how the cliches and tropes of musical theatre are exploited.

There is certainly variety in the humour, however, and it is not necessary to be a fan of any of the previous incarnations of the family to appreciate it.

Cameron Blakely’s Gomez brings a springy, Marx Brothers-flavoured tone to proceedings, while Carrie Hope Fletcher’s Wednesday has a sparky presence and a powerful voice. Samantha Womack’s Morticia is a less energetic performance – until she hitches up her skirts for a sweet if overlong tango feature, she seems inhibited by a costume that proves less practical on stage than on screen.

outré charm

That most unfairly underrated of performers, Les Dennis, brings his trademark rapport with the audience to narrator figure Uncle Fester, a performance of outré charm. Valda Aviks and Grant McIntyre have a suitably dark air as Grandma and Pugsley, while Dale Rapley and Oliver Ormson are the more buttoned-down (at least to begin with) Beinekes.

Les Dennis as Fester with the Ancestors.

A ten-strong chorus of ‘Addams ancestors’ is well used by choreographer Alistair David, while director Matthew White ensures there is always something going on. Indeed, the eye is often drawn away from the main action, not least because of Diego Pitarch’s extraordinary set design, with the house constantly in motion and seemingly alive.

It is not quite the case, however, that the audience will go home whistling the scenery; Andrew Lippa’s music is perfectly good, even if there are few contenders for show-stoppers and his own witty lyrics often overshadow the music.

So much effort and so many resources have gone into the production that it cannot fail to impress. The only nagging doubt is that the musical itself falls just short of doing justice to the subject matter.

unexpected moments

The love-conquers-all storyline, and the musings on intra-family relationships, are just too sentimental for a family who embrace darkness. The whole thing also bears the unmistakable stamp of a show that has been revised, retooled and buffed up to within an inch of its life; it runs along as if on castors, but such slickness comes at the expense of originality and the quirkily independent life that the Addams should demand.

No surprise, then, that the highlights are the most unexpected moments – when Uncle Fester serenades his most unlikely of partners; when the excellent Charlotte Page gives full-throated voice to Alice Beineke’s frustrations; when Dickon Gough’s transfixing Lurch finally takes centre stage. The big production numbers also have a real pizzazz.

These, however, are far from being the only fun moments in a production that may surprise few, but will certainly entertain many.

Running time: two hours 35 minutes (including one interval)
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT
Thursday 20 – Saturday 29 April 2017
Evenings: 7.30pm.
Matinees Sat 22; Sun 23; Wed 26; Thurs 27 & Sat 29: 2.30pm.
Tickes and details: www.edtheatres.com/addamsfamily

The Addams Family Tour website: www.theaddamsfamily.co.uk
The Addams Family Tour on Twitter: @AddamsFamilyUK

To get the original series, the movie or the original cast recording of the musical on Amazon, click click on the images below:

The Addams Family on tour:
20-29 April 2017 Edinburgh
Festival Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
9-13 May 2017 Northampton
Royal & Derngate
01604 624811 Book online
16-20 May 2017 London
New Wimbledon Theatre
0844 871 7646 Book online
23-27 May 2017 Canterbury
Marlowe Theatre
01227 787787 Book online
30 May – 3 June 2017 Southend
Cliffs Pavilion
01702 351 135 Book online
6-10 June 2017 Birmingham
Hippodrome
0844 338 5000 Book online
13-17 June 2017 Bath
Theatre Royal
01225 448844 Book online
20-24 June 2017 Truro
Hall for Cornwall
01872 262466 Book online
27 June – 1 July 2017 Nottingham
Theatre Royal
0115 989 5555 Book online
4-8 July 2017 Bradford
The Alhambra Theatre
01274 432000 Book online
18 – 29 July 2017 Southampton
Mayflower Theatre
02380 711811 Book online
1-12 August 2017 Cardiff
Wales Millennium Centre
029 2063 6464 Book online
15-26 August 2017 Dublin
Bord Gais Energy Theatre
0844 847 2455 Book online
29 August – 9 September 2017 Salford
The Lowry
0843 208 6000 Book online
12-16 September 2017 Sheffield
Lyceum Theatre
0114 249 6000 Book online
19-23 September 2017 Bristol
Hippodrome
0844 871 3012 Book online
26-30 September 2017 Woking
New Victoria Theatre
0844 871 7645 Book online
3-7 October 2017 Belfast
Grand Opera House
028 9024 1919 Book online
10-14 October 2017 Glasgow
King’s Theatre
0844 871 7648 Book online
17-21 October 2017 Wolverhampton
Grand
01902 429 212 Book online
24-28 October 2017 Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes Theatre
0844 871 7652 Book online
31 Oct – 4 Nov 2017 Dartford
Orchard Theatre
01322 220000 Book online

ENDS

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