Note: This review is for the 2022 UK Tour of The Addams Family.
They’re creepy and they’re kooky… and absolutely hilarious.
The weird and wacky Addams Family were on stage last night at The Alexandra Theatre, and if ever a show surprised me, it was this.
With music and lyrics by Tony Award nominated Andrew Lippa and Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, The Addams Family Musical tells the story of Wednesday Addams, now an 18 year-old woman who has a shocking secret: she has fallen in love and wants to marry Lucas Beineke, a sweet young man from a seemingly respectable family and only Gomez knows.
I had the opportunity to interview Kara Lane (Alice Beineke) before the show, and I remembered her description of the main cast while the performance was happening:
“…the family have really captured the essence of the characters… without impersonating them, they’ve been able to bring something fresh to the roles.”
She was completely correct. The Addams Family franchise has been the subject of comics, multiple TV series and Hollywood films since the 1930’s, and I doubt there was a single audience member who went into the show without some pre-conceived reference of characterisation and style. The cast, however, did indeed take the essence of their characters but made them completely their own, and it worked beautifully.
With the stage transformed into an extravagant creepy mansion, Wednesday (Kingsely Morton in her professional stage debut) pleads with the family for ‘One Normal Night’ as they prepare to meet the Beineke’s. Hilarity ensues as the sexy, sultry and highly sarcastic Morticia (Joanne Clifton), brilliantly partnered with her devoted Gomez (superbly played by theatre legend Cameron Blakely), glides around the stage while captivating the audience, and I was delighted that we got the chance to witness Clifton in action in a impressive full dance sequence. Blakely was just wonderful as the Addams patriarch, guiding us throughout with seemingly effortless timing as he is torn between keeping his daughter’s secret and betraying his wife. The sweet with just-the-right-level-of-sinister Grandma (Valda Aviks) and the jealous Pugsley (Grant McIntyre – who was brilliant and I wished for more stage time just so I could hear more of his vocals) prepare for a dinner party. A standout comedy performance was undoubtedly Uncle Fester (Scott Paige), who repeatedly had the audience roaring with laughter as he travels on his own romantic journey. And, of course, there’s the steadfast butler, Lurch (Dicken Gough). Who knew that a grunt could spark so much hilarity, or could be delivered in so many ways?
And what of the Beineke’s? With headstrong patriarch Mal (Sean Kingsely), downtrodden housewife Alice (Kara Lane) and the subject of Wednesday’s affections, Lucas (Ahmed Hamed), all is not as ‘normal’ as it seems as we witness some startling transformations throughout the show. I loved the chemistry between Lucas and Wednesday – both had incredible presence and vocal talent that were well beyond their years and experience and easily matched that of the more seasoned performers. The powerhouse of the night was Kara as she made audience members gasp out loud during her performance of ‘Waiting’ – what. a. voice.
I often find that in many shows there are a few ensemble cast members that stand out, but this crew were all sensational in their own right. Each in individual roles as Addams Family ancestors, absolutely everything was on point, from their choreography to their vocals and timing – there wasn’t a single error or misstep and I found my attentions drawn to them repeatedly.
I haven’t laughed out loud as much at a show in a long time. The entire cast had impeccable timing and were clearly loving every second, with a few corpsing moments just adding to the hilarity. The musical sequences were wonderful – from big and powerful whole cast performances of ‘When You’re An Addams’ to Uncle Fester’s sweet and soulful ‘The Moon and Me.’ I was also delighted to see Musical Director Bob Broad absolutely rocking out in the pit too!
Witty, charming and so funny that you will be rolling in your seats, the Addams Family Musical is a fabulous production that everyone will love.
An absolute must-see, and now one of my favourites.