The Addams Family - New Wimbledon Theatre
I came, I saw, I rather enjoyed it. It appears to me that the naysayers who didn’t care much for The Addams Family stage musical adaptation don’t like the changes from the motion picture. Now, I couldn’t tell you what those changes are, not having seen the movie, and to be honest, I saw this production mostly out of geographical convenience (the New Wimbledon Theatre, not really ‘new’ but rather refurbished in the 1990s, is walking distance from my front door) and partly out of loyalty to one of the co-producers, whose work I have supported previously.
I was, therefore, popping my Addams Family cherry with this production. I’d heard the opening number before, of course, complete in this touring show with the finger clicks. You know the one – creepy, kooky and altogether ooky. (Ooky? What is ‘ooky’?) The fantasy world in which an aristocratic family indulges in all things dark and gruesome never particularly appealed to me (quite honestly, it still doesn’t) – isn’t the world miserable enough as it is? But I found this production light-hearted enough, and this rendering of the Addams clan was more quirky than spooky. Could it be that there have been scarier portrayals of ghastly activity since the Addams Family debut as a comic strip in 1938? It also seemed that the musical is deliberately geared at a family audience, though again, with even children exposed these days to things more shocking and startling than Pugsley (Grant McIntyre) sleeping in a coffin-like chest.
The musical numbers are, on the whole, likeable but not all that memorable. Andrew Hilton impresses as musical director, as does the eight-strong band. The absurdly named Wednesday (Carrie Hope Fletcher) is a convincing moody teenager, with a lovely singing vocal – yes, a contradiction in terms, I appreciate, but I stand by it. Her relationship with boyfriend Lucas (Oliver Ormson) reminded me of the one between Jean-Michel and Ann in La Cage Aux Folles, a production of which I saw earlier this year in the same theatre.
Lurch (Dickon Gough), the butler, gets a late showcase musical number, having spent most of the time ‘conversing’ in monosyllabic grunts or otherwise deliberately taking longer than necessary to move across the stage. Les Dennis as Fester is surprisingly spot-on, doing even better than his supporting role in She Loves Me at the Menier Chocolate Factory, which I saw in late December 2016. It’s Gomez (Cameron Blakely) who steals the show for me, however, providing a demonstrably decent rapport with the audience. Only occasionally, as in ‘Full Disclosure’, does this production go full-out, and even then the intermingling spoken dialogue gives it a frustratingly stop-start feel, as though the song were stuck in a traffic jam. ‘Crazier Than You’, in Act Two, is worth waiting for, though even that is a tad too repetitive.
It’s not a show I would put in the West End, but it should do well on tour – at the Saturday matinee I attended, the theatre staff made a point of making clear ‘all three levels’ were open (more often than not, the upper circle is closed), and the evening performance was virtually sold out, with the theatre requesting patrons collecting tickets to arrive early as queues were likely. A display of weirdness, I suppose, is more interesting than a display of mundane normality.
On tour until 4 November 2017
Canterbury Marlow: 23 May to 27 May 2017
Southend Cliffs Pavilion: 30 May to 3 June 2017
Birmingham Hippodrme: 6 June to 10 June 2017
Theatre Royal Bath: 13 June to 17 June 2017
Hall for Cornwall, Truro: 20 June to 24 June 2017
Nottingham Theatre Royal: 27 June to 1 July 2017
Alhambra Theatre, Bradford: 4 July to 8 July 2017
Mayflower Theatre, Southampton: 18 July to 29 July 2017
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff: 1 August to 12 August 2017
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin: 15 August to 26 August 2017
The Lowry, Salford: 29 August to 9 September 2017
Sheffield Lyceum: 12 September to 16 September 2017
Bristol Hippodrome: 19 September to 23 September 2017
New Victoria Theatre, Woking: 26 September to 30 September 2017
Grand Opera House, Belfast: 3 October to 7 October 2017
Glasgow King’s Theatre: 10 October to 14 October 2017
Wolverhampton Grand: 17 October to 21 October 2017
Milton Keynes Theatre: 24 October to 28 October 2017
Orchard Theatre, Dartford: 31 October to 4 November 2017