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Goats, gripes, and grasping for greatness
Musicals: The Addams Family Musical 
23rd-Jul-2012 11:13 am
Goat-laugh
As a part of my continuing birthday month celebrations, Achaosofkittens took me to see The Addams Family Musical at the Kennedy Center Opera House. CK picked really nice orchestra seats right in the center rear of the house, and I know he got a good deal on the tickets too because I sent him the sale notice. ::grin:: (Quixotic_Goat and a non-LJ friend J came to round out the party and make it two-and-two.)

Let's start with the good stuff. The musical was fun to watch. It was cute, lively, witty, and self-aware. Gomez and Uncle Fester both broke the 4th wall deliberately and continuously. The set design was nearly perfect. And right from the opening commentary, the two-liners were fabulous, There were a couple of specific-to-DC comments early on that were very well timed. "Caught in the middle like the moderate right-wing... I'm trapped." /// "We're the Addams! And they're... from Ohio." "Ohio, eh? A swing state."

Wednesday Addams was a very believable older teen in the first throes of love. She did a reasonable job of presenting a determined front of a psychopath with a crossbow who was suddenly enjoying unicorns and rainbows. Her beau, Lucas, had a more difficult part to play as the infatuated-but-normal young man falling into strangeness, and he pulled most of it off. His teeter-totter act was harder to believe because of how much older he looked and sounded, but his Dramatic! Last! Stand! was well done.

The musical succeeded as entertainment, but failed to use its total time to full advantage. The opening acts were fun, if a tad forced, and the opening setup provided plenty of dramatic tensions for the show to use as leverage. Unfortunately, after Wednesday's big number about wanting "One Normal Night!," the strong start didn't last, and the musical kind of... slowed down...

I think the biggest problem with the musical plot line was a lack of problems. Gomez was caught between his daughter and his wife, and everyone was caught between being true "Addams" and dealing with the normal Beineke family. And that was it. The "issue" that Uncle Fester created with the Addams ancestral ghosts was never exploited except to support the main plot and provide chorus lines for the big musical numbers. Really, that might be my biggest disappointment because that was hammered so much in the radio ads: "Wednesday's in love and Uncle Fester's in trouble."

There was a lot of what felt like filler towards the end of Act 1 and the beginning of Act II. All of Uncle Fester's big numbers were irrelevant to plot line, and some of the dance numbers were there just as excuses. Morticia even said so as she introduced the dance number during "Secrets." And oddly, the music for two of those numbers sounded like "All He Needs is Love" and "It's True" from Chicago, which caused me even more mental distance from the real lyrics. ("Where'd you come from/Mississippi").

The redemption of Act II from doldrums and Uncle Fester's randomness started with the one seriously believable song in the show. Gomez's "Happy/Sad" was beautiful. And then the dramatic contrast from that slow hug to the explosive energy between Lucas and Wednesday as they argued and made up in "Crazier than You" was solid. "Crazier..." was a bit slow getting off the mark, and then picked up until I felt like I was watching something from Rent, complete with the little skipping step as they circled each other. I loved the song/dance/argument/commentary as Lucas broke out of his shell. That quick story arc was probably my favorite part of the whole second act.

Even with both of the "teenagers" doing so well both apart and together, my hat is off to Patrick Kennedy, who played Pugsley, for the purest singing presentation of the whole group. His solo was difficult both because the orchestration fell away at the end rather than filled out, and because he was left - literally - on a high note. Mr. Kennedy absolutely nailed it. I was so pleased for him! I hope for his sake that puberty is kind to him and he comes out the other side with as strong a voice as he has now.

The weakest link in the cast was actually Morticia, and because she was so weak, the finale lost a lot of its punch. Played by Christy Morton, this Morticia was too... modern?... physical?... for the Morticia Addams that I was expecting. I was looking for someone more distant and ethereal yet sensual at the same time. Ms. Morton did a fine job with the singing and the seated actions (which can be difficult!), but her walking and large dramatic flourishes were just not what I was expecting. And while she certainly fit the physical type for dark and sexy, her dancing was only mediocre at best. During the big resolution/makeup scene with Gomez, we were supposed to see a sensual tango that morphed into the finale flamenco. What I saw was a guy trying really hard and a gal who never learned to be sexy when she danced. She was all angles and windmilling arms. They never closed distance between each other, and never made me interested in what they were doing. Even as I applauded the effort, I was shaking my head.

Would I recommend you go see it? Yes. Cortney Wolfson did a wonderful Wednesday, and I have hopes for her continued success. Brian Justin Crum as Lucas had a slow start and an excellent finish. The two of them together have great chemistry and excellent energy, and redeemed the plodding Morticia dancing and random Uncle Fester scenes. The dialog is snappy at beginning and end, and the set was fun to see. The "Crazier than You" scene is not your usual romantic interlude, and that really sold it for me.

So go and see it, but understand that this is not a consistently good show. You will find that you are either checking your watch or wincing during some of the dance numbers. But you will also be laughing and clapping too.
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