by Terrance Mc Arthur
Creepy. Kooky. Mysterious. Spooky. Altogether ooky. What else would you expect from the musical comedy version of The Addams Family? It finishes its run at College of the Sequoias March 22.
Yes, after years of the strange cartoons of Charles Addams, the 60s TV show, the 90s movies, the animated kiddie TV series, and a Canadian-American reboot series that had more episodes than the original show, The Addams Family hit the stage in 2009, singing and dancing all the way, with songs by Andrew Lippa, and book by screenwriter-director (worked frequently with Woody Allen) Marshall Brickman and Rice Ellis. The favorite characters are back, with a few extra characters added to a plot that has worked all the way back to The Munsters and up to La Cage aux Folles.
Wednesday Addams (Rebekah Robles), nicely grown up and sporting hair in a fetching bob, has a boyfriend (Caleb Robbins), and his parents (Stan Clevenger, Joanne Cook) are coming to visit. Wednesday wants her family to pretend to be normal, and you know that’s not going to happen, because this is The Addams Family. She makes her father, Gomez (David Lemon), keep a secret from mommy Morticia (Jordyn White) for the first time, and it might cause their marriage to collapse. Brother Pugsley (Trent Andrews) fears that his sister won’t torture him anymore if she gets married, so he concocts a plan involving a concoction belonging to Grandma (Elizabeth LaMar). Uncle Fester (Richard Morill) has a love that is out of this world, and Lurch (billed “As Himself”), the family servant, lurches. The chorus is made up of various Addams ancestors, representing eras from the Middle Ages to the Roaring 20s. Watch for Thing, Cousin Itt, and some clever puppetry.
Robles is spunky and feisty in love, and sadistic with her sibling. She has a strong voice and handles the confusion of love well. Robbins is earnest and forthright, with more depth than one would expect of a character who is supposed to be “normal,” and he gets to push the envelope in the “Crazier Than You” duet, (which has become the new theme song in my home).
Lemon seems closer to the Addams original than many of the Hollywood versions, smarter than people think and more in control, except where his daughter is concerned. White is limber and slinky, able to range from the Monty Pythonesque lunacy of “Death Is Just Around the Corner” to the funny-sexy heat of the “Tango de Amor” with ease.
James McDonnell directed, designed the costumes and make-up, and deserves medals for a production that glides along with spookiness and fun. The spectral appearance of the Ancestors is amazing, and their clothing has quirky touches that cause much finger-pointing and whispering. Choreographer and co-director Linda Amaral manages to squeeze in dance quotes from Fosse to “Thriller,” yet creates a work that steps along on its own power.
Morill is a cuddly version of the Master of Ceremonies from Cabaret with a short-nosed touch of Cyrano de Bergerac. Cook gets to pull out all the stops on “Waiting,” a lament for a marriage that has lost its zing.
COS doesn’t tread timidly on the stage. It is ambitious and pretty successful. See The Addams Family. There are even a few places where you’ll get to snap along with the old theme music. Have fun.
The Addams Family continues on stage at COS until March 22 at 915 S Mooney Blvd, in Visalia. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.
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