Do you remember the 60’s – 70’s TV show the Addams Family, well it’s now a delightful Broadway Musical and currently playing its Australian premier season at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre. The orchestra strike up the overture which features that very familiar TV show theme and at once the whole audience clapped twice where the finger clicks come, setting us up for the next two hours of good old family theater fair.
It’s a lightweight musical comedy with a simple story line. Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, has grown up and fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family and who she plans to become engaged to. She confides in her father and begs him not to tell her mother, which nearly kills him as he has never kept a secret from his wife before.
Wednesday wants the Addams’s to meet her boyfriend and his family and has invited them to a family dinner at the Addams mansion. There all here the lovable larger than life spooky family: parents Gomez and Morticia, Uncle Fester, Grandma, Pugsley and the butler Lurch, who Wednesday wants to display as a ‘normal’ family. Of course when the Beineke Family of Mal, Alice and only son Lucas arrive the weird and wonderful all goes into fourth gear with nothing quite going to Wednesday’s plan.
The writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, who also wrote Jersey Boys, have captured the unique style of the TV show that combined the twisted, macabre and just plain weird with charm and wit into a slick and witty piece full of great one-liners and clever sight gags. The songs by Andrew Lippa are pleasant enough with their pop and peppy melodies, although you don’t leave humming them, do add to the story and keep up a great toe tapping pace.
This, it must be said, in Broadway Musical terms is a small and simple show, not a lot of spectacular set changing and everyone pretty much stays in the one costume throughout. But what makes this show so fun right now is the absolutely spot on casting. John Waters as Gomez is excellent and carries the weight of holding the whole thing together with all his depth of experience and wonderful stage craft. He can do it all, has a great singing voice and hams up every gag he’s given.
Teagan Wouters as Wednesday and Katrina Retallick as Alice Beineke and both perfect in their roles and young Liam Faulkner-Dimond as Pugsley Addams has just the right mix of trouble maker and angel - he’s’ delightful. Chloe Dallimore gives a fine performance and gets to show off her outstanding dance skills, which we first saw in the Producers and which made her a star, giving this Morticia great balance between shining showgirl and doting mother and wife.
Russell Dykstra as Uncle Fester all but steals the show; he takes the audience along on a very sweet and hilarious journey as he falls in love with the moon. Every time he’s on stage his antics supply so much of the show’s charm and fun. His big number, where he serenades the moon, uses some great theatre smoke and mirrors and got some of the best audience reaction of the night.
This night out is not what you might be used to in a ‘Broadway Musical’ and sure by the time you get home it’s almost a distant memory – but for the two hours in the dark it’s a charming and funny escape.