Originating as a comic strip by cartoonist Charles Addams in 1938, The Addams Family has been redrawn in varying forms ever since, from cartoons, a TV sitcom to a trio of films. 2010 brought the Broadway musical, and treating the Addams Family Musical as an entirely separate beast from the iconic 1991 and 1993 film adaptations does do this reincarnation a favour.
Most of the show’s downfalls seem to come from the story rather than the cast or their performances. A basic plot with minimal tension throughout, Wednesday is agonising over introducing her straight-laced, All-American boyfriend Lucas to her cadaverous family, who rattle around in their gothic mansion in Central Park. Family tension is rife from all sides, running parallel to a lunar love story for Uncle Fester and all against a backdrop of the Addams’ ghoulish ancestors, who have escaped their tombs for the night. Wednesday’s relationship with her father Gomez brings more intrigue than that with her boyfriend and as a whole, the story seems to belong to Gomez. Pulled constantly between his loyalties to his wife and his daughter, he struggles in ways loosely reminiscent of Fiddler’s Tevye.
There also seems to be friction between the showy nature of a musical production and the dark and twisted nature of the characters with the comedy often leaning very close to pantomime, which, although very well delivered and received, lacks the subtle biting wit of previous Addams comedies.
Glimpses of the famous click click refrain peeked through Andrew Lippa’s poppy score, which again, while very catchy, never fully settled with the production as a whole. However, Diego Pitarch’s crooked, creaking design, Alistair David’s offbeat choreography and the vocal strength of the cast as a whole are to be applauded. Cameron Blakely in particular shone as the hilariously theatrical Gomez, and Carrie Hope Fletcher, as usual, filled the theatre with her incredible voice.
The Addams Family now up sticks and leaves for a stint in Singapore. One hopes they will be able to cast an Asian actor to play the Addams Geisha ancestor for this leg of the run. In a time when issues of diversity and representation are at the forefront of the theatre industry’s focus, this oversight is wholly inexcusable.
Overall the Addams Family Musical proved to be a fun, amusing production despite the shortcomings of its book, brought to life by full-bodied, catchy numbers and performed by a very enjoyable cast.