Time to Remember
Theatre Review: Creepy, Kooky, and Beautiful ,"The Addams Family" a stellar offering from Rivertown Theaters (Kenner, LA)
From the moment the lights went down in the theatre and a single spotlight shone on the rich red rippling grand drape where a hand appeared with the pre-show messages scrawled ominously on large cards, I knew I was in for a treat. From the initial rise of the curtain which revealed the cemetery gates to the actual cemetery itself, complete with gnarled tree (with a noose) , crypt, sparkly star backdrop, and a beautiful glowing low hanging moon, my eyes were wowed with the sheer beauty of the set.( Many years ago one of my directors had told us that in musicals, the opening numbers had to grab the audience or you would lose them. Trust me, this grabbed me and never let go. ) Did I mention the perfectly cast Addams? Every actor bore a striking resemblance to the Charles Addams cartoons on which they were based, Many theatres could rest their laurels on that fact, but this amazing cast had beaucoup talent to spare. But I digress.
Based on the New Yorker cartoons by Charles Addams, the musical is light on story but heavy on chuckles and nostalgia. Daughter Wednesday has met a boy and invites him and his parents to meet her family. One slight problem: they are typical milquetoast ""normal". Her mother Morticia would never approve. Father Gomez tries to smooth things over, inevitably fibbing to keep the family peace, which of course blows up in his face. Younger Brother Pugsley is saddened by the chance of his sister leaving (who would torture him if she goes? I mean , literally torture, like on a rack) Meanwhile, eccentric (even by Addams standards) Uncle Fester has found the love of his life- the MOON- which results in a magical song where he floats(?!?!) through the air trying to catch his love.
Director Gary Rucker streamlines the already streamlined version of the Broadway show, cutting the fat to present a tighter narrative and brisk pace. He adds touches of the TV series not in the script (the aforementioned character "Thing"- a disembodied hand that pops up magically to offer...well, a helping hand.) that enhance the sense of nostalgia. The whimsical touches abound with the cameo appearance of cousin It and a skittering curtain tassel. The set design by Ron Goldberg is stunning- From the family graveyard to the two tiered house festooned with various masks and stuffed animal heads, the details are delicious. Choreographer Michelle Macicek guides the nimble cast with graceful ease. The "chorus" are the ghosts of deceased family members (Addams have been around since the dawn of man as there is everything from a caveman to a flapper in this merry band of family ghosts) and their ghostly white appearance pop in the dark surroundings. The costumes by Sara Bandurian perfectly capture the iconic looks of the comics (so much so I thought they could have been rented.).
The cast was sublime. Johnny Lee Missakian imbued Gomez with such Joi de Vivre and charm matched perfectly with his rich booming voice. In fact, every voice in the show was pitch perfect and beautiful! Trina Becks' Morticia was the picture of sensual calm and grace. The youngest member of the cast Christian Collins (Pugsley) held his own with his seasoned castmates, as did Madison Kerth (Wednesday). The lumbering , muttering, moaning Lurch (Matt Read) grabbed attention (which was difficult with this cast) with hilarious results. Tracy Collins' Grandma had little to do yet managed to keep me giggling every moment she could. Alan Payne as Fester (with double duty as the musical Director) was awkwardly charming and disarmingly goofy. The "Normal" family shone as well (particularly the lovely Carrie Black as the mother , Alice Beineke. Her potion induced breakdown was hilarious!)
I could go on and on, but the bottom line is this was an amazing show from top to bottom . Thank you Mr. Rucker for reminding me what NOLA (and Kenner )Theatre is!
"Who are you supposed to be?"
For a second I didn't know how to respond. Sure, I had gotten that question several times that day, but each time the answer seemed inadequate. Earlier that day, everyone seemed to have their own ideas (Papa Smurf, blue man group, the Beast from X-men, or just "scary") and who was I to tell them they're wrong. I know I should have answered with "Who do you think I am?" but instead I replied "The ghost of myself. " and shrugged.
He cocked his head and squinched up his eyes as he studied me. "I like it!. He said, nodding his head and smiling.
We were bar acquaintances who only knew each other peripherally- over the many years of seeing each other across various bar in the area we had shared few words.After a few minutes of chit-chat I patted him on the back and told him it was nice talking with him. He reached out and brushed my arm as I started to move away , an awkward attempt to pat me back. I smiled before turning, waved and said "Later, man." and ambled off to my stool on the deserted back patio.
It was early Halloween eve, and the bar was starting to fill with patrons. Unfortunately for me, besides the lone guy I had briefly talked to, I knew not a soul. Also, besides myself, no one else was wearing a costume. Sure, it was the day before Halloween, but in the past there would be costume revelers throughout the weekend. This year the actual holiday landed on a Saturday and this particular bar was having its' party that night. Picture if you will, a forty-eight year old man slathered with blue paint and a rumpled suit amongst a sea of well dressed people enjoying a pre-dinner cocktail. Kind of scary, and not in a good or intended way.
Maybe it was the time - it was only 8:30. The ghouls don't show up until much later I told myself, but my anticipation for my favorite holiday had inspired me to slather on my makeup before going to work, so at this point I had been painted for well over eleven hours. Amazingly my makeup was in solid shape (the sheer will power it took to not scratch my face was immeasurable) but the thick blue greasepaint was suffocating and making me a little nauseous. Slamming back several margaritas seemed to be the best medicine for it, but then I was just sleepy.
Past Halloweens flashed before my eyes, spent at this very bar with my friends, drunken revelries all. This had been one of my favorite haunts but the past couple years had brought much change. Where before I had no witching hour, now my mornings came early and my energy faded well before midnight. My circle of friends have changed (or evaporated) and now my infrequent sojourns to this fine establishment were spent alone in the corner sipping my cocktails and hiding behind my phone until the battery died and I would leave.
Chalk it up to age or life choices, this was now my life. I knew I would not return the next night for the party- the moment had passed. The realization that I had no one to come with (or babysit or take care of) hit me and a quiet night at home actually sounded...comfortable. I'm not sure if this is progress or just tragic, but I am okay with it. I am the ghost of my self. It doesn't mean that I'm not corporeal. It just means I've "passed on" from that former life.
I think that is who I'm meant to be.
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