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!
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