Patrick D. Kennedy (Pugsley), Pippa Pearthree (Grandma), Sara Gettelfinger (Morticia), Douglas Sills (Gomez), Tom Corbeil (Lorch), Cortney Wolfson (Wednesday), and Blake Hammond (Uncle Fester) in THE ADDAMS FAMILY, Photo by Jeremy Daniel.
There's one reason to see The Addams Family running June 5-17, 2012 at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, CA: Douglas Sills. Sills' personification of Gomez Addams is sexy, yes, sexy, delightful, playful, bawdy, and touching; yes, touching. In fact, the strength of his personality and skills coupled with a strong supporting cast makes The Addams Family an interesting case study: It's a musical comedy that doesn't need to be.
That's not the say that the play shouldn't exist; on the contrary, it's a fun romp of theatre. In fact, it's so fun and the characters so beloved in the American lexicon that many of the songs could be cut; they're not bad, they just get in the way of what we came to see -- the Addams FAMILY.
"I came out of the womb as Gomez," Sills joked at the cast party held at the swank and festive Beso on Hollywood and Ivar in Hollywood, CA. "Seriously, though, if anyone had told me growing up that I would play Gomez one day I would have laughed out loud. I'm old enough to have seen the original and it is a dream for me," he concluded.
The original he referred to was the black-and-white TV show starring Carolyn Jones and John Astin loosely based on characters created by Charles Addams. Addams was an American cartoonist who lived from 1912-1988. When he was 21 in 1933 his work was published in "The New Yorker" where he published for over six decades.
"Carolyn Jones was one of the most beautiful women to ever live," Sara Gettelfinger exclaimed at the party. Gettelfinger personifies Morticia in this production, including every bit of the cleavage and sex appeal. "Moritica was fabulous, as strong, sexy, quirky woman in control, loved by her husband, devoted to her children and her family, trying to get by in the modern world. There's a little Morticia in us all," she laughed.
Blake Hammond as Uncle Fester has several show-stealing moments, especially his love sonnet to the moon which employs some fun special effects and campy staging.
Camp is what the play is about; that, and our love for these kings and queens of quirk. When Cousin It or Thing appears, there's uproarious applause. Cortney Wolfson and Patrick D. Kennedy as Wednesday and Pugsley hit the mark, although it's hard to beat Christina Ricci's personification in the original film. Wolfson has to manage being an insane Addams in the body of young girl that wants a sane life. Her romance with Lucas Beinke (the REALLY handsome Brian Justin Crum) is the focal point of the play and the "our parents must get along or we can't marry" subtext is what drives the whole vehicle. Gaelen Gilliland has a great number about releasing repression and Pippa Pearthree as Grandmama is just the right amount of crazy.
But it's Sills who holds together the play and commands every scene he's in. His comic timing is perfect, he plays Gomez as a typical family man in love with his wife and son and daughter, despite the dungeon, torture devices and sword play.
Tom Corbeil as Lurch may not say a word but his presence is huge in the play, so much so that at the end when we find out he has an incredible operatic voice it shocks us out of our seats.
The cast is what makes The Addams Family so much fun. The script is predictable and some of the numbers seem to be there because they're "supposed" to be, when in fact, this cast, with a stronger comedic script could carry and entire night without one note sung. However, it is great fun to see Gomez and Morticia cutting a rug, rose minus the bud clutched in the teeth.
The play, movies, TV shows, they all examine the idea of what is a monster, what is normal, what is strange and that those that seem the most absurd are often the most normal, the most loving, the most...well, boring in some ways and those that may appear to be normal or what society accepts often are more bizarre than the overt..and that hideous is a point of view.
The Addams Family works because the actors know how to make it work. Their enthusiasm and strong performances as individuals and as an ensemble took what could have been an all right night of theatre and made it great fun. Laughter was the language of the evening with audience and cast alike having a great time with characters that are as strangely American as, well, as Herman Munster or The Vampire Lestat. We do love the strange.
Also, it's a perfect play if you have kids or young adults, with only one profane word in the entire production.
Yes, they're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, they're all together ookie...still. Catch the tour in Los Angeles and them moving on nationally until the year's end with stops in Seattle, DC and points in between. Check http://www.theaddamsfamilymusicaltour.com/ for tour details. For the Los Angeles engagement and tickets go to http://www.broadwayla.org
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