Reworked for national tour, ‘Addams Family’ has bigger snap
HEDY WEISS Theater Criticfirstname.lastname@example.org December 27, 2011 11:50PM
Douglas Sills stars as Gomez and Sara Gettelfinger portrays Morticia in the national touring production of "The Addams Family."
‘THE ADDAMS FAMILY’
◆ Through Jan. 1
◆ Cadillac Palace
Theatre, 151 W. Randolph
◆ Tickets, $39-$95
◆ (800) 775-2000;
Updated: January 30, 2012 10:02AM
Three times turns out to be the charm.
“The Addams Family,” now making what is sure to prove an all too brief national touring stop in Chicago, began life in this city. And while its subsequent (and considerably revised) Broadway version, which has run for 22 months, and comes to an end Saturday, has apparently failed to recoup its $16.5 million capitalization, the New York Times recently reported that it has been faring well on the road, most notably in Buffalo, where it reportedly “grossed $995,000 in a week, more than most shows pull in on Broadway.”
What that story failed to mention was that while national tours tend to be carbon copies of the Broadway edition, THIS touring production has been quite radically reworked and ideally cast. And in the process, the show has finally found its true self. Now, in something of its third incarnation, the show is far more involving, far funnier, far more charming, far sexier and far more focused on Morticia and Gomez. Best of all — and in the spirit of all those knotty contradictions so deftly embodied by the variously twisted members of the Addams family — it is at once more energetic and more relaxed in every way.
The musical’s creative team — Andrew Lippa (score), Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice (book), Jerry Zaks (the “doctoring” director, who built heavily on the original staging and visual design of Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch), and choreographer Sergio Trujillo — have apparently kept at it. True, there is still a surfeit of shtick at certain moments. But along with the grief, pain and ghoulish pleasure in all things dark and death-ridden, the very New Yorkerish Addams clan has an abundance of life. The family also has a real address (their mansion stands in Central Park), and they have freed themselves of an onerous octopus, if not their ghostly “ancestors.”
The story line has remained essentially the same, as the lives of the long-married Gomez (played with seductive panache by the dashing Douglas Sills, who has a touch of Kevin Kline about him), and his beloved wife, Morticia (statuesque Sara Gettelfinger, who easily suggests her character’s heat and humor) are thrown into chaos. The catalyst is the decision of their daughter, Wednesday (Cortney Wolfson, believably angry-crazy) to marry Lucas Beineke (an edgy Brian Justin Crum), the seemingly “normal” son of Ohio-bred Mal Beineke (Martin Vidnovic), and his unhappy wife, Alice (Victoria Huston-Elem, subbing for Crista Moore at Tuesday’s opening night performance).
Just what exactly IS “normal” in the realm of love and marriage? That, of course, is the big rhetorical question hanging over the show (and the drolly gothic Charles Addams cartoons that inspired it). But more crucially, as this musical explores two long marriages, and a third about to be entered into, it is the whole notion of truth and lies that takes on paramount importance here, happily supplanting the tired themes of midlife crisis and aging.
Blake Hammond brings a buoyant glee to moon-loving Uncle Fester. Patrick D. Kennedy is a zesty Pugsley, Wednesday’s chunky brother, who knows he will miss his sister’s torturous attention. Tom Corbeil, tall, reed-thin, and neatly catatonic as Lurch, the butler, happily gets a few more chances at what might be termed vocalization. And yes, quite fittingly, the bride wears a dress of black (and blue).