The Addams Family
By Peter May
It’s been quite a few years since the spookiest family in entertainment have appeared but here they return to the spotlight as part of a touring UK musical. Surprisingly it took seven years to arrive on British shores after originally opening to rave reviews on Broadway.
Lilith from TV’s Frasier, Bebe Neuwirth and seasoned musical legend Nathan Lane played the original Morticia and Gomez there, but British audiences shouldn’t feel short-changed in being treated to Eastender star Samantha Womack and Cameron Blakely, as each play their respective characters brilliantly.
Womack slinks around the stage giving her best performance as the sultry and seductive Morticia, while Blakely has nailed the kooky and debonair Gomez characteristics including the accent down to a tee. The pair clearly shares the same chemistry as the original cast.
Aside from the return of all the memorable characters from Charles Addams’ morbid cartoons, there is story to follow amongst the craziness. Possibly a bit thin on the ground however and in the second act begins to show some sag. It is a comedy romance affair as Wednesday Addams has fallen in love – shock horror – with a chap from a normal respectable family. The fun kicks in when Wednesday’s beau and his parents are invited around for dinner to meet the in laws to be.
The excellent casting decisions made in this production continues as Les Dennis excels in donning a skullcap to play wacky Uncle Fester who shares an unhealthy obsession for the moon. Carrie Hope Fletcher playing teen-goth Wednesday has her chance to show off her excellent singing ability too even if some of the songs are not as memorable as they could be.
On the whole, this new musical is witty, engaging and very funny with great one-liners, all rounded off nicely with Andrew Hilton’s impressive eight-piece live band. The set is innovative, mostly taking place in the Addams mansion, it makes great use of holograms, vocal and visual effects particularly including moveable ghost paintings and really sets the mood throughout.
There’s never been a better moment to challenge conventional apple-pie ideas about “the real America” with something a shade sassier, violent and evil.
Until London on Sat 20th May in London, then touring