The audience’s excitement was palpable, the music was mysterious and creepy, punctuated by the howls of a werewolf and lightning flashes ... Welcome to the WSRep’s “The Addams Family” currently onstage at a The Raue Center.
A musical comedy, “The Addams Family” was written by Marshall Brickman (“Jersey Boys” fame) and Rick Elice with music and lyrics by Andrew Lipa. Although well known to us through TV and movie adaptations, this is an original story based on the cartoon characters created by Charles Addams.
The Beinekes, a “normal Ohio family” are coming to dinner at the definitely not normal Addams Family’s mansion. It seems that daughter Wednesday Addams has fallen in love with “a normal boy” and they want to get married-talk about opposites attracting! Wednesday also wants to keep it a secret from her mother, but naturally things are complicated and made even more treacherous by Morticia’s insistence that the traditional game of Full Disclosure be played after dinner.
Director Kevin Wiczer has mounted a superbly non-stop entertaining production, aided and abetted by the flawless musical direction of Bryan McCaffrey and the multi-styled energetic choreography of Kristine Burdi. Victoria Jablonski’s costumes are gloriously appropriate and the scenic work of Adam Crinson and William Schmiel is macabre and effective.
And the casting is exquisite. Leading “with the sword as well as the heart” is the magnificent, suave and handsome William Marquez as the patriarch Gomez. Perfectly accented and facially expressive, Marquez is a wonder. Amanda Flahive is a slinky, gorgeous Morticia with an incredible vocal range (wish she had more songs) and extraordinary expressive acting ability. Flahive and Marquez are the impeccably matched couple with delicious chemistry.
David Blakeman is the narrating scene-stealing lovable weirdo, Uncle Fester, the best mix of sincerity and comedy and champion of love. Claire Latourette is the “perfect princess of darkness,” Wednesday, another incomparable songbird, especially when she soars in her solo “Pulled”.
The rest of the Addams Family is composed of Jacob Balm, the ramrod straight, slow moving wonderful Lurch, Monica Szaflik as the definitely looney Grandma, and Tyler Hart’s as the naughty but ultimately sweet Pugsley. They are all talents! And all 12 of the ghostly ancestors are eye-poppingly if not grotesquely beautiful in their different personifications dancing and singing throughout the two acts.
The Ohio Beinekes are portrayed by stoic and charming Travis Greuel as Mal, (watch out for his dad dancing!), the wonderful Colette Todd as Alice, the poetry-obsessed mother (her part in “Full Disclosure” brought down the house) and preppy boy-next-door Joe Lewis as Lucas (“I can be impulsive but I just need to think about it first”).
Surprisingly, this musical comedy holds many touchingly sentimental moments and songs, particularly Gomez’s “Happy Sad” and Uncle Fester’s staircase climbing “The Moon and Me”.
From the moment the overture begins and The Hand appears, you are captivated by this production. There are no missteps, no imbalances and no resistance to the cleverly delivered one liners and ongoing hilarity of situations delivered with precise timing and pacing. I’m afraid I have to glow like Uncle Fester’s lightbulbs; this is a spectacular production-treat yourself and see it!
• After 35 years in education and theater, Regina Belt-Daniels continues to do what she loves best: teach, travel, theater and write reviews.