A couple of years ago I found myself in New York with plenty of free time to explore Broadway. Always the theatre-nerd, I had heard about “The Addams Family” and that it was starring true modern-day Broadway royalty – Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth. So of course, I found myself with ticket in hand excited at the opportunity to see these two amazing talents on stage.
The Broadway production was full of glitz and glamour and certainly had its share of “creepy and kooky,” but there was a lot within the show that just didn’t make sense. The music didn’t really fit the show, for one, and there was a bizarre scene with a song sung to a giant squid that really made no sense at all. Of course the main reason I was there – Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth – were worth the price of the ticket alone, so I certainly had a wonderful time.
Luckily, the writers of “The Addams Family” were all-too-aware of the issues with the show and it has undergone a full re-write before the national tour was launched. Gone is the giant squid, much of the music has been changed to fit the “Addams Family” vibe, and the changes have truly been for the better.
The revised story of “The Addams Family” centers on Wednesday Addams, now a young woman and engaged to a nice, young, “normal,” boy. Wednesday confides in her father, Gomez, all about the engagement just hours before the “normals” are coming over for dinner and begs him not to tell her mother about the engagement. Gomez then has the dilemma of keeping a secret from his wife, Morticia, or honoring his promise to Wednesday. It’s a simple plot, but one the flows smoothly and allows for some nice tension between the usually “too-in-love-for-words” Gomez and Morticia.
In its essence, “The Addams Family” is a wonderful production that is perfect for those that remember the comic strip and television show fondly. However, it is also a great deal of fun to introduce a whole new generation to the joy of this “altogether spooky” family. Douglas Sills is a superb Gomez Addams, deftly zinging the audience with one-liner after one-liner and inspiring a cacophony of chuckles and laughter from the crowd. Also stealing the show is Tom Corbeil as Lurch, though mute for most of the show, his physicality is perfectly reminiscent of Ted Cassidy, who played the role in the original television series.
Sara Gettelfinger provides an impressive singing voice and a great deal of motherly warmth to Morticia Addams, however her dance numbers felt low-energy and lacked the passion that the character of Morticia is so well known for. The same can be said for Cortney Wolfson as Wednesday Addams – a fantastic voice, charming character, but lacking in passion or commitment to the larger numbers.
Blake Hammond is utterly delightful as Uncle Fester and, in the biggest, most surprisingly fantastic number of the production he steals the show as he sings and dances while professing his love for the moon. Finally, Gaelen Gilliland is another standout as Alice Beineke, Wednesday’s mother-in-law-to-be.
Visually, “The Addams Family” does everything right – the moving curtains used to frame the scenes, the hilarious puppetry work, the tremendous costuming, and the layered and deeply detailed set. Choreography is also a great deal of fun. The ensemble portrays different Addams Ancestors and they bring unique and spooky movement to the impressive larger numbers.
While “The Addams Family” may not break any grounds or change any lives, it is really very funny and delightful to watch. As the lights go down, and the familiar theme starts to play, you too will find yourself snapping along with the music singing “They’re creepy and their kooky” in your head.
Denver Center Attractions presents:
“The Addams Family” A New Musical Comedy
Playing through July 1
At the Temple Buell Theatre
Tickets start at $25
Call (303) 893-4100 or online at www.denvercenter.org