by Terrance Mc Arthur
Have you ever tried to write a musical based on 150 single-panel cartoons?
That was the job faced by playwrights Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, and songsmith Andrew Lippa, fifteen years ago, and it turned into The Addams Family. Now, the quirky musical is on the equally-quirky Reedley Opera House stage in a River City Theatre Company production through July 24.
One of the limits for Brickman/Elice/Lippa: they could not use plots from the TV show or the movies. The plot had to be inspired by the original Charles Addams artwork. However, they did get the rights to use the snap-snappy theme music that people remember (“They’re creepy and they’re kooky, Mysterious and spooky…”). Even though the original Broadway production racked up more than 700 performances, the creative team thought they could do better, so they revised it before taking it on the road. [The current version of the script no longer has a giant squid in it.]
R. L. Preheim is a jolly Gomez Addams, who has never kept a secret or told a lie to his wife, Morticia (Alina Marie Gonzalez) until his grown-up daughter, Wednesday (Hannah Aubrey), tells him why a family of “normals” are coming to dinner, and begs him into secrecy. His torments and subterfuges are delightful to watch, and he dances a mean tango.
Gonzalez is sleek in a gown that steers away from the traditional black sheath to a deep-blue form-fitter with black-patterned overlays with striking effect. She is cool, she is alluring, and her deadpan delivery puts the snap in the snappy patter.
Aubrey is brutal and domineering with her brother Pugsley (Jacob Alvarado), spunky with her boyfriend, Lucas Beineke (Jhony De Oliveira, who tries to get his parents to act normal), and as demanding as a Morticia-to-be with her father.
Mal Beineke (Eric Bailey) and Alice Beineke (Courtney Myers) are Lucas’ parents. He is aggressive and opinionated, and she is passive and rhyming…until she is given a potion that unleashes all her frustrations with her marriage in a tour de force.
Alvarado endures his sister’s torturing because he likes it. April Valle is a grubby-but-lively Grandma. Jeff Lusk towers over everybody and moans incoherently until he…..Trust me. just wait for it. It’s worth it.
The gem of the cast is Stevie Barnett as Fester. In Barnett’s care, Fester is a benign sprite, an innocent soul who believes in the power of love. Fester narrates, makes things happen, and has an object of desire that is beyond reach…or is it? On top of their acting duties, Barnett is the costumer for the show, and will co-direct the RCTC’s upcoming production of Arsenic and Old Lace.
The chorus of “Addams Ancestors” roam the theatre in ghostly attire of various eras, from the Stone Age to the 20th Century. They move scenery, are scenery, watch the living characters, and they take action when necessary. Erik Valencia’s directing rolls the show onward, and Beth Ashley Campbell’s choreography ranges from “Thriller”-esque line dancing to the sublime ‘Tango de Amor.”
The Addams Family is silly, and it knows it. Go along with it, and you’ll have a great time…and get to snap your fingers.
The Reedley Opera House is at 1720 10th St., Reedley, CA. For ticket information, check the RCTC website.
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and also on podbean.