Produced by: San Jose Stage Company
Featuring: Johnny Moreno, Allison F. Rich, Courtney Hatcher, Zac Schuman, Donna Federico, Will Springhorn Jr., Scott McQuiston, CJ Blankenship, Nicole Frydman, Brian Herndon, Adrienne Herro, Brittney Monroe, Jordan Sidfield, Edward Hightower, Elise Youssef, Jeffrey Brian Adams
Directed by: Tony Kelly
When: June 3 through July 26, 2015
Where: San Jose Stage Company, 490 South First Street, San Jose, California
Tickets: $20-$65 (discounts available). Call 408-283-7142 or visit www.thestage.org
in 'The Addams Family'?
"Show me the normal man and I will cure him," said Sigmund Freud. And the same could probably be said of the "normal" family.
Except the Addams family appears to be anything but normal! And yet, beneath the façade of dilapidated Victorian architecture, a few ghostly ancestors and a somewhat disconcerting fixation with death, they actually seem to be as normal as any other family, as Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice's entertaining musical comedy, with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, clearly demonstrates. They have the same family quarrels, the same family issues, and the same family characters. Oh come on, don't you have an Uncle Fester somewhere on the family tree?
And yet "normal" is what daughter Wednesday (Courtney Hatcher) craves, for just one night at least. She has met Lucas Beineke (Jeffrey Brian Adams) and wants to marry him. But first she must introduce his parents to her family, and she fears the worst. This is love story #1. Mal and Alice Beineke are your typical middle-aged parents whose youthful energy and get-up-and-go has gotten up and gone. Though Alice still speaks in rhymes … This is love story #2.
After dinner Morticia, played darkly and yet seductively by Allison F. Rich, insists on playing "The Game." In The Game, everyone around the dinner table has to disclose a secret. This is rather tricky, as not only does Wednesday hold the secret of wanting to marry Lucas, but she has told her father Gomez, and not her mother Morticia. So secrets abound.
I have always liked Gomez's character and Johnny Moreno plays him to a tee. "My ancestors came over on the Spanish Galleon Pico de Gallo," he informs us, among many other cheeky one-liners. Gomez is interesting. In his sharp, tailored suit, he is a link to the outside world, and yet he is clearly the head of the family. Gomez and Morticia are good together, and constitute love story #3.
Morticia wonders about Gomez's rather strange mother, Grandma Addams (played by Donna Federico) who lives in the house with them.
A fairly "normal" dinner takes place, but when it is time for The Game, Wednesday's brother Pugsley (Zac Schuman) disrupts the proceedings. "Who will torture me when Wednesday is gone?" he laments. Without giving away the plot, stuff happens and there is much disruption. In particular we discover that Uncle Fester (played with just a touch of lunacy by D. Scott McQuiston) is in love with the moon (love story #4) and sings about it in "The moon and me."
Although the main characters don't dance much, there is a fair amount of choreography from "the ancestors." This is a motley group of ghosts who are around most of the time, and add some good dynamics to the stage.
And talking of "The Stage" or the "San Jose Stage Company" to give it its full title, this was my first time there. It's a cozy, intimate theater with excellent views from all seats. I felt close to the action all the time and the acoustics were wonderful.
I thoroughly enjoyed Andrew Lippa's music and lyrics; he often captured exactly what I was thinking. The band was excellent. I should also give a shout out here to two minor characters – Lurch, the butler, played with a menacing undercurrent by Will Springhorn Jr, and "Thing," played by, err, a hand.
This is a thoroughly entertaining show for the whole family and really brings the characters to life. And if there is a takeaway, it is that "normal" is just an illusion. What is strange to some people is quite normal to others. Vive la difference.
Email Tony Lacy-Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org