Review: The Addams Family
Muddy Northants ed Anna-Lou loved the off-beat humour & Wes Anderson quirkiness of this kooky family musical. It runs at Birmingham Hippodrome, Tue June 6-Sat June 10.
I’m not often blind-sided at the theatre, but The Addams Family did it with bells on! It was the press night yesterday, and to be honest, I was mostly going for my job and Mini Muddy (I just didn’t think it would be for me). I was wrong (as were some of the audience, as Mudlet saw the lady in front of her had written a text to her friend saying: ‘OMG, I thought it was going to be crap, but IT’S SO AMAZING *note to self, must talk to daughter about privacy issues)!
So why was it so great? Well dear reader, it was everything (I know right?) The acting, the set, the music, the story…what a perfect storm. It had a real Wes Anderson (Hotel Budapest) quirkiness about it. Family is often at the centre of Anderson’s films, and there’s a similar theme of family in all of its dysfunctional glory here (I wonder if the director is a fan?). It was also reminiscent of a kind of Cats or Moulin Rouge production, and without a doubt, is Broadway and West End worthy (you could just tell by the audience’s reaction)!
What’s it all about then? I’d never really watched the shows or films (I obviously knew the characters as most of us do), but the UK tour isn’t the story of the film. Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, is all grown up now, and has a shocking secret that only Gomez knows; she’s fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family (played wonderfully by Oliver Ormson with the camp theatrical verve of John Barrowman mixed with one of the earnest missionaries from the Book of Mormon – Hello, my Name is Elder Beineke)! The story revolves around Gomez Addams and his dilemma of keeping the secret from his beloved wife, Morticia, and we watch as everything changes for the whole family as they host a dinner for Wednesday’s “normal” boyfriend and his parents. All the usual clan are here – Uncle Fester, Lurch, Pugsley et al.
First up though is Cameron Blakely as Gomez. What a spectacular performance! Comedic, energetic, heartfelt…he’s like a sexy Manuel from Fawlty Towers (weird much? ha ha). I felt like he was the linchpin who brought everyone together – the trunk of The Addams Family, connecting all the weird and wonderful branches. I could have watched him all night (unfortunately, I had to leave with everyone else at 10pm : )
Samantha Womack as Morticia Addams was beautifully understated, a perfect mix of cool elegance. There was definitely a twinkle in her eye though, with saucy glimpses of Sex And The City’s Samantha Jones (I do think there’s a Kim Cattrall quality to her). Mr Muddy said he was surprised by her performance and very impressed. He left smiling at the end, exclaiming her as having ‘true star quality.’ Mini muddy said she was Roxie or Ronnie in Eastenders, and unfortunately she’s now dead. Hmmmm, questionable TV viewing going on with my 12-year-old!
Les Dennis was a suitably bonkers Fester bringing some real depth and warmth to the character who helps the path of true love go smoothly while he himself falls head over heals for the moon (very Le Voyage dans la Lune, the 1902 French silent film directed by Georges Méliès). It was hard not to root for him every step of the way; he had all of the audience smiling.
Carrie Hope Fletcher’s Wednesday was excellent. Her voice wouldn’t be out of place with Idina Menzel in Wicked and since her roles include Eponine in Les Misérables and Truly Scrumptious in the recent tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, you know the girl has pipes. Special mention to Miriam Margolyes as Grandma (ok, it wasn’t really her, but she did a great impression), and the actors who played Lucas’s Mum (superb voice and great comic performance) and Lurch (I won’t spoil the end, but there was a bum wiggle that just cracked the audience up)! I don’t have time to mention all of the performances, but they really were all fabulous (best ensemble cast since Michael Jackson’s Thriller).
The story, music, direction, and dancing were all top-notch, I loved the off-beat, (sometimes) makes-no-sense, gorgeousness of the whole show. I honestly haven’t enjoyed a musical as much in a very long time (and as you can imagine in my job, I see a fair few). The only nit-pick that both Mudlet and I had was Thing (the hand). It was just too small and weirdly attached to a whole arm, but hey, it’s a tiny thing (quite literally), and didn’t take away from what was a truly brilliant evening, worth every penny of your English Pounds. The Addams Family is written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, the creators of multi-award-winning Jersey Boys, with music and lyrics by the Tony Award-nominated Andrew Lippa. Bravo, the lot of you!
The Addams Family runs at Birmingham Hippodrome from Tue June 6-Sat June 10, birminghamhippodrome.com