Of all the love stories this planet has generated, Morticia and Gomez Addams are among the most admired and coveted. I know for a fact I am not alone in that thought. They are honest and passionate and we love their undying commitment to each other and that they do not waiver or stray from their individuality. We should all be so lucky to find such a partner in the dance of life. Palo Alto Players brings this couple and the rest of the beloved TV fam to the stage in the Broadway musical, The Addams Family, and with it they bring all the best parts of the series along with new, fun theatrical twists. I was pleasantly surprised at the generous doses of humor, talent and the heart of this production.
This is a show that does not take itself too seriously in many ways, yet still manages to have a deeper message involving relationships and families. It’s exactly what you would expect with lots of laugh out loud moments, a plethora of camp and numerous takes to the audience and it’s also maybe NOT what you’d expect with regard to the sweet sentiment at the center of the plot.
Catchy songs, several with a fun Spanish flair to them, were well sung and well accompanied by a solid orchestra. Really, the entire cast comprehends comic timing VERY well and everyone gets at least a chuckle. They all have a clear chemistry with each other and a keen awareness of the audience, which are both essential for (pardon the expression) execution of this show. Forced to pick, Pugsley steals the show for me, with Lurch and Gomez tied for a close second. Pugsley absolutely nails his vocals along with his character, but all three in particular convey so much funny with so “little.” A mischievous smile, a precisely inarticulate groan, a simple hand flourish, the perfect length of pause are all it takes to bust up the audience. It’s so innate for these actors I get the sense they might not even be aware of half the humor they are actually delivering. Morticia is divine, playing a pure representation of the matriarch we all secretly want to be, Grandma is a hoot and a half, Fester brings it, Wednesday works it like a serial killer, the 3 Beineke’s elicit their own snorts and guffaws and the hard-working ensemble ties it all together. It’s some great local talent clearly having fun on stage, and that fun is certainly contagious.
This is actually a huge, HUGE show and a big undertaking (as is the current trend for Palo Alto Players) for this space. There are moments where that enormity gets away from the venue/company to be sure but nothing too severe. Some not-so-insignificant sight line issues, some unwanted stage hands visible, sound/balance challenges and a cumbersome set change here or there were certainly unfortunate, but there are such delightful moments throughout, that it’s hard to critique this show too harshly.
Visually the show requires a specific, effective, sufficiently gothic feel and the production delivers that consistently technically. Costumes were fantastic and tied in well with the visual ambiance led by the set and lighting design and supported by props and makeup. There are some fun moments of stage craft and magic too; most the corny and kitsch variety, but some of it worth an actual “wow.” Choreography over all was really creative (the complexity and variety paired well with the talent tasked with the dancing) aside from the one big tango scene which I wanted to be even more over the top and dramatic.
While nearing 3 hours with the intermission, the show doesn’t feel long at all and I’d actually recommend for a Friday or a week night as it really is an uplifting, silly, and cute show. In the end, clever lyrics, hummable music, wit and talent make this a wickedly pleasurable romp. A smiling 4 out of 5 jewels in the review tiara for an amusing evening of solid entertainment. The Addams Family plays through May 10th at the Lucie Stern theater in Palo Alto.
**The theater was a tad chilly for me so bring a coat just in case.
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