Review: 'The Addams Family' is Frightening Fun at the Muny

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

Creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, all together ooky, the Addams Family has taken up residence on the Muny stage for a madcap romp that’s sure to put a tortuous tickle in your funny bone. The strong cast is headed by Rob McClure as Gomez, and from the opening defibrillating number—“When You’re An Addams”—through its finale, you’ll be zombified into submission with non-stop gags, guffaws and gut-busting grotesqueries.

"The Addams Family" at the Muny Courtesy of the Muny/Phillip Hamer

“The Addams Family” at the Muny
Courtesy of the Muny/Phillip Hamer

Based on the one-panel cartoons by Charles Addams that appeared in The New Yorker from 1935 to 1988, the characters were first given life in a television series (that, surprisingly, ran for only two seasons) and then in the movies. The stage musical—which opened on Broadway in 2010—was created by Andrew Lippa with book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, and is based on the one-gag cartoons, not the TV show or films, so don’t be surprised to see the characters behave in ways you might not have imagined. Let it go, accept it and revel in it, along with the cast who appear to be having the time of their lives.

"The Addams Family" at the Muny Courtesy of the Muny/Phillip Hamer

“The Addams Family” at the Muny
Courtesy of the Muny/Phillip Hamer

The plot revolves around Wednesday (Sara Kapner) who falls in love with normal-boy (Dan DeLuca), a member of a prototypical straight-laced, conservative family. Naturally, the two worlds will collide when the boy’s mother and father (Hollis Resnik and John Scherer) come to meet the macabre Addams family. Many sub-plots arise, including Morticia (Jenny Powers) threatening to leave Gomez, Pugsley (Michael Harp) plotting to keep Wednesday from falling in love (because who would then torture him?), and Uncle Fester (Steve Rosen) falling in literal love with the moon. There’s also a generous and delightful dose of Grandma “Jennifer Cody,” and the somnambulant butler, Lurch (William Ryall). Cousin It doesn’t make an appearance until the curtain call, and Thing wasn’t there, but if he was, I’d have to give the Muny a hand (see what I did there?).

"The Addams Family" at the Muny Courtesy of the Muny/Phillip Hamer

“The Addams Family” at the Muny
Courtesy of the Muny/Phillip Hamer

The entire cast is superb, and the music—with its tango and Latin rhythms—is surprisingly enjoyable. Director Marcia Milgrom Dodge and choreographer Vince Pesce get the most out of their cast, from McClure’s tour de force performance and Powers’ slinky seductiveness through Wednesdays powerhouse vocal number, “Pulled,” and Steve Rosen’s genial ebullience as Uncle Fester. Not to be overlooked is the delightful take on Grandma by Jennifer Cody. It’s both a hoot and natural that after Gomez and Morticia discover she may not be either of their Grandmothers, they keep her around anyway. Anybody would. Michael Harp as Pugsley delights here again, after his outstanding performance in Billy Elliot (where he and Billy performed one of the most enjoyable numbers in the show). Even William Ryall as stoic Lurch gets his due, delighting the audience when he bursts out in his rich Lurch-like baritone.

Rob McClure as Gomez and Jenny Powers as Morticia in "The Addams Family" at the Muny Courtesy of the Muny/Phillip Hamer

Rob McClure as Gomez and Jenny Powers as Morticia in “The Addams Family” at the Muny
Courtesy of the Muny/Phillip Hamer

“The Addams Family” continues through Sunday, July 20. For tickets and information, visit the Muny website.

Follow Christopher Reilly on Twitter @ChristoReilly

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