Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

The Addams Family

A New Musical

Book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice

Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa

Based on Characters Created by Charles Addams

Directed and Designed by Phelim McDermott & Julian Crouch

Music Direction by Mary-Mitchell CampbellThe addams family-the musical

Choreographed by Sergio Trujillo

Produced by Broadway in Chicago

At the Oriental Theatre

The bizarre yet lovable Addams Family is a funny, tuneful spectacle

The Addams Family is a flat out hit show that finds a fresh way to re-introduce us to the bizarre world of our lovable finger-clicking Addams clan. Based on Charles Addams series of cartoons that ran in the New Yorker from 1938-88 and the hit TV series, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice have written a gag-filled hilarious book that aptly depicts their family values through a macabre lens.  Brickman & Elice keep that motif going deftly never bending from the family’s total unawareness that the frighten most people.

The Addams Family Cartoon by Charles Addams
The Addams Family Cartoon by Charles Addams

All Addams’ are here: Gomez Addams (Nathan Lane is funny, slick and charming)  eccentrically enthusiastic patriarch. Morticia Addams (the ageless and sensual Bebe Neuwirth) the family matriarch always dresses in sleek black is pale skinned and is self-adsorbed.

The addams family-the musical

The kids include Pugsley Addams (the talented Adam Reigler)  as the deliciously diabolical child who love to be tortured by his older sister Wednesday (Krysta Rodriguez in a star turn performance).

The family also features the hilarious pot-smoking Grandma (Jackie Hoffman breaks us up as the wacky senior);  Uncle Fester (the charming Kevin Chamberlin), the pure romantic and the shows narrator; the creepy butler Lurch (Zachary James) with a host of weirdos like Itt and an assortment of animal puppets and plants that complete the Addams’ freakish household.

The addams family-the musical

Designers and directors Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch have  terrific set designs as they have created an appropriate eerie house with fine lighting (by Natasha Katz) and unique special effects (by Gregory Meeh) that features wonderful use of puppets (designed by Basil Twist). With all these ingredients sets up the humor that works expertly the tuneful music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa.

The addams family-the musical

From the fabulous rousing opening number, “Clandango,”  we meet the Addams’ and their dancing chorus Ancestors in a march that set the tone for this cute romp. Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth as Gomez and Morticia quickly wins us  over while Kevin Chamberlin’s Uncle Fester narrates and introduces to his fixation with love in “Let’s Not Talk About Anything Else But Love” number.

Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane the addams family- the musical

The Addams kids lament their angst in “Pulled” as Wednesday emerges as a young lady. Next we witness the love/passion from Morticia and Gomez in “Passionate and True.”  When Wednesday tells her parents that she has a boyfriend–Lucas Beinke (Wesley Taylor) from Ohio, Morticia insists that the Beinke family come for dinner. Wednesday pleads for the family to have “One Normal Night.”  We see the two teens express their love and we meet the ‘normal’ yet uptight Mel Beinke (Terrence Mann) and his wife, Alice (Carolee Carmello) a horny wife who speaks like a rhyming Hallmark card.  We learn what “At Seven” means to the Addams as they teach the Beinke’s to express their passion.

the addams family - the musical

The dinner party is a hilarious scene where the Addams play their traditional family game of  “Full Disclosure” with the help of a herbal drink.  This mayhem-filled scene ends with Alice wailing her angst in the powerful “Waiting.”

the addams family - the musical

Act Two finds Morticia worried that she has lost her appeal in “Second Banana.” Nathan Lane is wonderful in “Happy/Sad” and Lucas and Wednesday frolick in the pop/rock tune “Crazier Than You.” Uncle Fester goes to his love–the moon in his love song-part 3. In “Teach me to Tango,” Gomez gives more than dance lessons to Alice.  The Beinke’s rekindle their love after Mel has an encounter with a squid as he belts “In the Arms.”  All is resolved as the family’s unite behind their siblings as love conquers all.

the addams family - the musical

The Addams  Family features a marvelous score and witty/funny lyrics by  Andrew Lippa whose score has everything from vaudeville, to power ballads, to tango/fandango, to patter songs,  to a pop/rock pastiches that deftly tell the story and enrich the characters.  Lippa score is the vehicle that drives this show–it has humor, panache and loads of heart. There are hummable take-home songs here.

the addams family - the musical

The Addams family is almost ready to capture hearts on Broadway. With some tightening and a few minor cuts, The Addams Family will be ready. It is so refreshing to see such a smart, well staged and thoroughly entertaining new musical that absolutely lives up to its hype. You laugh, you empathize, and love Uncle Fester and the Addams’ clan.  Get to the Oriental Theatre soon for this excellent holiday treat–you only have until January 10, 2010.  Morticia and Gomez will treat you with macabre and Lurch will take your hat.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

At the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St, Chicago, IL, call 800-775-2000, tickets $28- $105, To check out the schedule go to or , running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission.

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