NODA Review - The Addams Family Musical
Everyone's favourite ghoulish TV family have made a recent transition to the stage in musical form and considering the number of amateur productions over recent years, a popular one too. This was a polished and impressive production which brought the TV characters to life in an engaging way, the show revolving around the culture clash between the Addams clan and the clean-cut Beineke family as Wednesday Addams falls for all-American boy Lucas: it's a slight tale but when well told as it was here, reasonably engaging. The standout feature of the show for me however was the really excellent orchestra under the baton of Helen Clarkson, who succeeded in making a fairly indifferent musical score sound fantastic.
Leading the gruesome family ensemble, Ashley Wade gave a solid performance as Gomez Addams, ably supported by Alex Townsend as Morticia: the relationship between the two characters was nicely handled by both performers and they worked well together. Their pesky daughter Wednesday was performed with real panache by Hannah McIver who brought a real spark of life to the stage in a very confident portrayal - excellent vocal work too. Adam Vause charmed the audience with an excellent portrayal of Pugsley: it was hard to believe this was his first ever appearance on stage, such was his confidence. Frank Butterworth was a very loveable Uncle Fester and Gilly Walker a comically feisty Grandma with Craig Dagnall ably completing the household as the butler, Lurch. Spectral assistance from beyond the grave came in the form of a rather nifty group of ghostly ancestors who also doubled up as items of household furniture (portraits, candelabra etc) and trees to boot, which was a clever touch. Alice and Mal Beineke were well played by Cara Novotny and Steven Hooper who contrasted nicely with the creepy Addams family with Max Anderson completing the line-up as Wednesday's 'normal' boyfriend Lucas.
An excellent set helped to keep scene changes smooth and slick with thoughtful lighting creating just the right mood. Where there were issues with lines lost or muffled/ garbled dialogue, the fault seemed to lie with the diction of the performers rather than any sound issues. It probably didn't help that I seemed to have ended up in a section of the audience which were rather noisier than one is used to: their high spirits may have meant that I missed a word or two here and there too. The costumes were particularly good with the whole cast looking just right with excellent makeup adding an extra touch of class to the production. The show moved at a good pace and managed to smooth over the rather limp first act (where not much really happens!) by keeping things snappy and driving things along; otherwise, Act One would have been not much more than a series of introductions: a fault of the show rather than this production but one which Rachel Rogers did well to navigate around with her cast. There were also a number of very well choreographed routines in the show, a particular highlight was the intense Latin spectacular in Act Two led by Gomez Addams - all flourishing flamenco and pounding paso doble! Well done to Alex Townend - and all the cast! - for creating some very memorable moments.
This isn't the show to go to if you're looking for weighty issues, sub-plots or rapid fire plot twists but it is an engaging little show in its own way. I did tire of the songs being rather 'one note' (rather more songs listing the quirky creepiness of the characters than were strictly necessary in my book) but the splendid Latin American thread which dominated the score was very well served by the orchestra who really did summon up a sumptuous sound. It would be difficult to imagine the show receiving a better treatment than the one it was afforded by the Todmorden team who really did pull out all the stops to create a great evening's entertainment - as usual. My thanks to all at the Hippodrome for your customary very warm welcome and I salute the theatre's ongoing commitment for continuing to produce shows of the highest quality.