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Theatre Review: The Addams Family Delivers a Fairly Tame Production

Lisa Much Lisa Much Theatre Review: The Addams Family Delivers a Fairly Tame ProductionAmanda Bruton (Grandma), Jennifer Fogarty (Wednesday), Dan Olson (Lurch), Jesse Sharp (Gomez), KeLeen Snowgren (Morticia), Shaun Rice (Uncle Fester) and Jeremy Todd Shinder (Pugsley) in the 2013-2014 National Touring Company of The Addams Family. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
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The Addams Family-A New Musical opened on Broadway in 2010. This came with a surge of other annoying, pre-existing character-themed shows including Elf the Musical, Spiderman, Catch me if you Can, and Sister Act to name a few. Now, for its second national tour, The Addams Family found its way to Columbus’s Palace Theatre.

The show draws the characters from the cartoon rather than a movie or television show. This allows for a lot of liberty, and, as a result, produces one of the sappiest love stories I have ever seen. Wednesday Addams, the eldest child of the macabre family, meets a boy—a “normal” boy, Lucas—and they get engaged. Before they tell their parents, the young couple decides the families should meet. After panicking over the inevitable embarrassment they will feel because of their families, the teens make their respective relatives promise to “act normal.” Cue dinner party where this predictably does not occur. Also, after the Addams family opens the show with a fairly tame and routine opening number, one where the family raises their ancestors from the dead, Uncle Fester locks the deceased out of the afterlife. He enslaves them in the physical realm to ensure Wednesday and Lucas fall in love. They sing some back up in songs and dance, a ghost chorus, if you will.

Jennifer Fogarty as Wednesday Addams and Jeremy Todd Shinder as Pugsley Addams in the 2013-2014 National Tour of The Addams Family. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Jennifer Fogarty as Wednesday Addams and Jeremy Todd Shinder as Pugsley Addams in the 2013-2014 National Tour of The Addams Family. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Basically, The Addams Family illustrates some producers wanting some money, taking some popular characters and veiling a vague plot over them, ala many campy musicals. This show feels older than the Addams ancestors. It proves wildly predictable and rarely funny, other than cheap, predictable shots.

The innuendo becomes a bit challenging at times. I even overheard a toddler ask during the show, “What’s a grandma sandwich?”

The acting is a caricature of itself. It tries as a happy, campy musical, but feels so awkward because of the characters. Poor writing leaves the performers in a terrible position to spout their one-liners as comedy routine and then recite the remainder of the lines and songs. Perhaps, the most obnoxious issue comes with the re-creation. The playbill mentions the original director and choreographer (which playbills usually do), but then lists E. Cameron Holsinger as the direction re-creator and Jonathan Ritter as the choreographer re-creator. Why re-create? Why not direct something new, recognizing a different director, choreographer and actors? That would inevitably improve this production and its cheesy performances. I am baffled beyond belief.

At its core, it remains a tired quasi-love story about some teenagers wanting their families to not embarrass them, a sibling growing sad over the older one’s departure, and marital honesty. These are ironically the most normal stories the writers could choose.

This production does feature some nice puppets by Basil Twist and a really cool chair. I even laughed a couple times at surprising jokes. Other than that, I personally, found this show the epitome of greed and an illustration of nearly every irksome habit of theatrical endeavors.

The Addams Family is in town through April 13 at the Palace Theatre, 34 W. Broad Street and plays Wed.-Thurs. at 7:30 pm; Fri.-Sat. At 8 pm; Sat. at 2 pm; Sun. at 1 pm & 6:30 pm. Ticket prices range. More information can be found online at CAPA.com.

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