The Addams Family first began life as a cartoon strip in The New Yorker magazine in 1938, and in later years spawned a hit TV series and film. It followed the lives of a Gothic American family; charming Gomez, his sleek wife Morticia, daughter Wednesday, her scheming brother Pugsley, zany Uncle Fester, a feisty Grandma and Frankenstein-style butler Lurch. Despite their delight in all things macabre, at the heart of it all was a family, with all the trials and tribulations that any normal family life entails.
The stage show opened on Broadway in 2010.Though it has never enjoyed a professionalrun inthe UK, it has recently become a favourite of the amateur circuit, and I was very much looking forward to seeing WLOS production of it at The London Oratory School in Fulham.
Overall this was an impressive effort, with some strong performances from the leads, and good support from the chorus. This musical comedy version tells the story of a dinner party held by Morticia and Gomez for Wednesday’s beau Lucas Beineke and his “normal” parents Mal and Alice. As you would expect, things do not go according to plan, but the path of true love and understanding is eventually smoothed for the young lovers, with a little help from some Addams ancestors, and a bonkers Uncle Fester, played by Will Prescott. Will’s performance was a little stilted to begin with, but he had really got into the role by the second act, and the audience warmed to the crazy, but loveable Fester.
Alejandro Lopez Montoya and Naomi Fieldus took on the roles of Gomez and Morticia. Though I felt the sexual tension and chemistry that should exist between the two characters was a little lacking, each turned in a fine performance, with Naomi as an incredibly sexy Morticia, and Alejandro wowing the audience with his rich and velvety voice.
Sally Reeve took on the role of the couple’s sadistic daughter Wednesday, who on falling in love with boyfriend Lucas (played by Mark Stanford) is pulled away from her natural inclination to all things dark. These two gave a great performance as the mismatched couple, both with powerhouse voices, and Sally’s underplayed, deadpan delivery contrasted well with Lucas’ all American enthusiasm.
Jess Clift as Lucas’ giggly rhyming mother, accidentally taken to the dark side in an hilarious number that saw her climbing on the table with admirable dexterity, and Jason Thomas as Lucas’ uptight dad were both delightful and extremely watchable. Jomay Pilenquinga as twisted Pugsley and Angela Daniel as Grandma were a great double act and provided some nice comedy moments. Finally who could forget Lurch, the ever present butler played by Oliver Southgate, who having only grunted through the show (must have made the line learning easy!) surprised us all with a sweet solo at the end.
There are some lovely chorus numbers in this show. “When You’re an Addams” makes a rousing opening, and the catchy “Full Disclosure” (which is still going round my head) were two particular highlights. I also enjoyed the choreography of the Tango number in the second act. However, some of the numbers seemed to end rather abruptly, which left the audience unsure whether they were actually finished.
The chorus provided some excellent support as Addams ancestors, and were often used to dress the stage as statues or pictures, which worked really well. Friesa Schuil’s choreography moved the chorus round the stage well; no easy task for such a large cast, though some of the chorus numbers looked a little squashed when the full ensemble were onstage.
Unfortunately, on the night I saw the show there were some sound issues, which meant some of the chorus numbers were barely audible on occasions, and some dialogue was lost. As I saw the show on opening night, I hope this is something that can resolved through the week, as it can detract from the energy of the performance, and the audience’s enjoyment, and there is much to enjoy in this show. Director Janet Huckle has done a great job on bringing this iconic family to life on stage, and from the opening 4 note bass line of the instantly recognisable theme tune, which had us all clicking along, there was much laughter and enjoyment from the audience. The action was complemented with some wonderful costumes (I was extremely envious of Morticia’s dress!) and well directed music from MD Sandra Horne.
So if you fancy an evening of ghoulish delight, I suggest you get yourself down to The London Oratory School for a fun filled evening in the company of everyone’s favourite Gothic family.