The First Family of morbidity goes Broadway.
The last couple of years have seen the successes of Evil Dead the Musical, and Night of the Living Dead Live on Toronto stages. Now, enter The Addams Family Musical. Playing a short run (December 1-5) at the Annex Theatre, it features the graduating class of the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts.
Naturally, when young theatre groups tackle existing Broadway productions, there is an expectation that they will fall short. But this is not the case here. Without exaggeration, every member of the 19-strong cast brought something special to the performance. Each demonstrating impressive vocal and dance skills, the onstage talent far outshone the thin story line, and lackluster script. The ensemble—while very loosely tied to the plot—were the bright part of each scene in which they participated, providing comic relief, rich vocal harmonies, and engaging choreography.
Working within the parameters they were given, this production excels in the fine details. Intricate costumes and a variety of neat set pieces—including a few torture devices—bring personality to the show. However, fans of all things creepy may find that this incarnation disappoints when it comes to the macabre—or lack thereof.
The inherent problem with this venture is the very idea of bringing The Addams Family to the stage itself. Having to project oneself in a theatre setting, while singing show tunes, isn’t the easiest way to depict a clan best described as morose, deadpan, and brooding. Due to this, most characters seemed slightly off their mark. Only Lurch, the family’s zombie-like butler, was able to retain his natural stoicism. Most shocking is Wednesday Addams, who has fallen in love with a “normal” boy and is about to be married. Girlish and whimsical, her character is a huge departure from Christina Ricci’s iconic, ultra-sullen depiction in the early 1990s films. That being said, a wonderful darkness descends towards the end of the first act, as Wednesday’s mother-in-law begins to embrace her inner demons—throwing both families into turmoil.
While this production may not measure up to the Goth quotient set up by its predecessors, nor does it have the guts and gore of recent horror musicals, it is in no way a failure. The sheer talent among this group of actors is reason enough to check it out. It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll see them on other stages very soon, regardless.