Charles Addams’ cartoons have been adapted numerous times for TV, film and as an animated series. Thanks to longtime Hollywood composer Vic Mizzy, it also has one of the most recognisable theme tunes in popular culture, so was an obvious candidate to be adapted for a stage musical. When it opened on Broadway in 2010, it became one of those rare beasts – a hit musical that the critics hated. This production from the Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group is clearly a hit, and I definitely didn't hate it but, much like the Addams Family themselves, it was a mixed bag of oddities.
A highlight of the show is Gomez song for Wednesday, “Happy/Sad” which is beautifully sung by Meenan and backed up by a subtle and emotional performance by More.
The weight of the show rests on the shoulders of Scott Meenan as Gomez, the fiery Latin lover and head of the Addams Family. Meenan relishes the role and gives his Gomez a boyish charm and enough enthusiasm to lift every scene in which he appears but we lose some of his witty asides to fast delivery and sound problems. Unfortunately, his scenes with the rather flat Morticia, played by Melani Carrie, cool down his performance when their interactions should be red hot.
Asheigh More is a revelation and her Wednesday Addams is both vicious and vulnerable. She has a fine voice and manages to hold a perfect “resting bitch face” for the entire production even during some of the more energetic dance routines. I certainly hope to see her perform in many more productions in the future. A highlight of the show is Gomez song for Wednesday, “Happy/Sad” which is beautifully sung by Meenan and backed up by a subtle and emotional performance by More.
Gomez’s brother Fester acts as narrator and instigator of the story, and Campbell Keith throws himself into the part; his Fester is the playful anarchist of the cartoons and the audience roars with laughter whenever he in on stage.
The rest of the cast and ensemble give it everything with particular praise going to Esmee Cook's Alice, the suburban mother who finds her voice and Holly Marsden’s Pugsly who is clearly just having such a great time that you can’t help but like her.
Where the production falls down is in the direction. There are too many moments where lines are delivered in a way that kills the joke and the actors move across the stage in a way that abandons the clear physicality of their role. While the minimal set is perfect for the show, with sweeping velvet and plenty of stairs. the different levels are not well utilised and too much of the action happens on a flat plane at the front of the stage. Placing the band onstage made the space seem crowded and should have been a feature of the staging rather than a distraction. There were also some serious sound issues with missing sound effects and principals voices drowned out by both the band and ensemble on the bigger numbers.
The Addams Family is a production that, despite its problems and failings, still manages to be creepy, kooky and an entertaining and engaging show.