REVIEW: National tour of 'The Addams Family'

May 14, 2014
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The folks at Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre, Beef & Boards, Footlite Musicals and other regional musical theater producers should be happy to learn that “The Addams Family,” the oft-rewritten musical, is now in pretty good shape.

fester.jpgAfter a troubled run in Chicago and a critically bashed stint on Broadway, the show has been rewritten yet again by its creative team for its road tour (playing Clowes Hall through May 18). And these diligent folks have finally come up with a funny and coherent-enough book and a tuneful-enough score to place “The Addams Family” in the company of good-enough, commodity shows such as “Legally Blonde” and “Shrek.” It will never be declared a masterpiece, but the show should provide a diversion for many years to come.

Alas, those future high school and community theater productions may well be graced with stronger casts than the one being offered in this tour. Apart from powerhouse vocalist Jennifer Fogarty as Wednesday and Shaun Rice in the charm role as Uncle Fester, these Addams’ give grave performances, indeed. (One of the dubious advantages of such non-Equity tours is that you don’t have to waste much time reading the program since none of the actors have done much that’s remotely interesting.)

The plot mixes elements of “La Cage aux Folles” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” with Wednesday bringing home a “normal” boyfriend and his parents for dinner. A little white lie Gomez tells Morticia leads to a friction in the family.

But the Addams’ were never big on plot, so it’s no surprise here that most of the pleasure comes from one liners (there’s a classic about Grandma) and visual surprises (including a joyfully buoyant scene for Fester). Andrew Lippa’s score includes a few merely functionable exercises but also catchy upbeat music for such songs as “One Normal Night,” “Crazier Than You,” and “Full Disclosure.”  There’s also a lovely song, “Happy/Sad,” that would be a wedding staple by now if it came from a less eclectic show.

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  • Decent, but entertaining
    We saw the show on Tuesday. The first act was full of fun and ended well. However, I felt the second act was ill-derived. They didn't seem to know how to end it. The Uncle Fester scene seemed random and out of place and the Tango (which could have been really cool) was terrible. The end scene was very weak. I'd have preferred them to rewrite it and end with a crazy strong and killer (pun intended) Tango.
    • Was there Tuesday
      We stayed for the first act. I laughed in my head thinking about how those line would have really funny if delivered by Bebe and Nathen - These two not so much. I wonder do the Producers and creators really think that if it flops in New York we will always have those high school royalty checks to support us when we get old
    • Thank goodness
      If you didn't care for Act II at Clowes Hall here in Indy, you should've seen the World Premiere in Chicago. Act II is the part that has been reworked the most since its premiere and Broadway run. Thank goodness they got rid of that whole love affair with a squid malarkey.
    • Mediocre
      We saw the play last night. The first act was pretty good and had several funny lines. The second act was slow and choppy. The woman who played Morticia was not very good...no chemistry between Morticia and Gomez. The man who played Gomez did a decent job. The strongest character was definitely Wednesday. I would give the play a "C" rating.
    • Nice backhand!
      "Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre, Beef & Boards, Footlite Musicals ... should be happy" funny and coherent-enough book" "tuneful-enough score" "good-enough, commodity shows" "never ... a masterpiece, but ... a diversion" Very effective review combined with brilliant backhanded encouragement to local troupes obviously seen as lesser. Hard to do, but you're good!
      • A complement--and not a backhand one
        Not a Fan, My point is that "The Addams Family," while not a great show, should have some fun life in regionals, community theaters, and high schools. And that those casts are likely to be stronger than most of what you see on stage in this production. I'd bet any of the companies mentioned would do a stronger overall job on this show. Seems like that's a complement to local companies, which are often capable of exceeding what's done in non-Equity tours. For instance, I'll happily take Civic's "Drowsy Chaperone" (granted, a far better show than "Addams") over the alleged "Broadway" tour that played Bloomington. And, at the risk of complicating things further, none of this is to say that a non-Equity tour can't work. Last season's "American Idiot" was, in my view, one of the highlights of the season. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, Lou
      • Wednesday
        Was the only redeeming factor in that show. And some of the jokes were just not funny. Obamacare? Is this a nationally touring Broadway American show or just plain 'Merica. Our Thursday night showing was 1/3 full, at best. Many seats in the front were empty.

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