Wednesday, May 12, 2010

When you're an Addams.

The critics haven't been terribly kind when it comes to The Addams Family Musical which recently opened on Broadway. And I can see why.  This show is far from perfect. Some characters come across as flat. Some of the dialogue is forced and awkward. And there are songs that are less than inspiring.  On the other hand, I can also see why audiences are in love with this show.  There's plenty to make this a fun night out.

Yes some of the characters don't work all that well.  Like Wednesday who's all grown up, distancing herself from the parents, and hoping to marry a nice normal boy.  Unfortunately that means she's a lot less interesting than the original, dark and moody version.  And while Uncle Fester has his moments (I loved the weird performance of The Moon and Me), overall his character just doesn't make sense; but maybe that's the point.

On the other hand, there are some impressive performances.  Jackie Hoffman as Grandma is awful; and I mean that in the best possible way.  She's mean. She's creepy. She's offensive.  And you love her all the more for it. Bebe Neuwirth is great as Morticia.  Her restrained performance just makes her sensuality scorch up the stage even more.  And Nathan Lane is fantastic.  Even when his songs and his dialogue leave something to be desired, he still stands out as the star of this show.

Some of the music in The Addams Family is completely forgettable.  But there are some songs that get stuck in your head long past the time you've left the theater.  When You're an Addams is a great way to start a show and I'm stilling humming its friendly melody. Full Disclosure isn't perfect but it's close enough to make it a bit of a show stopper.  And even some of the more sentimental songs worked for me.  I loved Nathan Lane's performance of Happy/Sad, about life's strange contradictions.  The beautifully crafted lyrics gave me the occasional goose bump, particularly the closing sentiment, "I'm happy, happy, happy; and just a little bit sad."

I can't leave this review without talking about the curtain.  The rich, red theater curtain with gold trim that greets the audience as you enter the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre is practically a character in and of itself.  It morphs and transforms and reveals throughout the show, helping to guide the audience through the story line.  Add a magical gold tassel and I was in love.  It may not be as technologically impressive as crashing chandeliers or emerald cities, but this was one of the best theater effects I've seen. 

Even with the problems, I'd still give this show a thumbs up.  But a positive review from me may not mean much.  Last year in my Witches vs. Bitches Broadway Smackdown I chose Nine to Five over Wicked.  And we all know how that turned out.  Here's hoping The Addams Family fairs better.

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