The Addams Family musical offers a fun evening of singing, dancing, laughing, and live music. The titular family are known for their morbid tastes, and the musical portrays them as one would expect, except for the central love story that is at odds with their reputation.
The story revolves around the family’s reaction to daughter Wednesday’s love interest, a “normal” boy from Ohio. From their initial distrust to their acceptance, this storyline doesn’t seem to fit with their image, particularly the happy ending which seems to unfold too smoothly for the Addams family.
The boy, Lucas Beineke, has caused Wednesday to feel things she has never felt before. In one funny moment, Wednesday shows an unfamiliar fondness for “cute” things; she even welcomes a bird into her hands before she unceremoniously snaps its neck.
The musical certainly brings to light questions of what it means to be a family. Each family is different and they all have their own quirks, and sometimes it is important to accept the qualities that make them unique. Although the premise may be Wednesday and Lucas’ relationship, the story follows the multiple relationships of the other characters, including Gomez and Morticia Addams, Mal and Alicia Beineke, and Fester and his desire for the moon.
The Addams are eccentric but function like any well-meaning family. They are caring, in their own unique manner, and harbour no fewer traditions or quirks than any other family out there. For example, Pugsley becomes concerned that his sister’s love will affect their own relationship and that she would never torture him again. In this version, Pugsley is depicted as the younger sibling rather than the older brother.
The family often does not see themselves as different, but in one scene, Wednesday acknowledges their eccentricities and differences when she asks the other Addams to “act normal.” On the other side, Lucas also displays the same behaviour, when he asks his more conventional parents to behave “normally.”
The production involves a number of large musical numbers, often using the Addams ancestors as the ensemble and including well-known gestures from the television show, such as the trademark two snaps. The presence of the Addams ancestors successfully complements the soloists rather than overshadowing them; their grey monochrome costumes were both individually unique yet stylistically uniform.
It is evident that a lot of work, time, and money went into making this production. In many ways it was successful: the presence of the large musical numbers, the detailed costumes, the flashy lighting design, and the ever-changing set pieces fit the Broadway aesthetic. There were, however, times when the use of spotlights on the individual soloist would dilute some of the lighting design in the background.
The result further emphasized the theatricality of the piece rather than one with more realistic components.
This atmosphere of a created environment may take away from some of the authenticity the production is aiming for. The result is a rather common love story with a few quirks, and a family that is familiar to the audience in fundamental sense, if not in nature.
For fans of the Addams family cartoon, television series, or films, or those wanting a small taste of the quirky Addams family and a simple, well-meaning family drama, this production is for you.
The Addams Family runs from February 6–21 at the Michael J. Fox Theatre. For more information, visit michaeljfoxtheatre.ca.