Get Kooky with Uptown’s Spectacular Hit Musical Comedy ‘The Addams Family’

There are professional theaters that could serve as prime examples of how to run an entertainment organization. There are also professional theaters where the administration has no clue what they are doing and there isn’t much “professional” about it.

Similarly, there are community theaters that are run by dedicated board members who administer things with top-notch execution. And, there are community theaters that haven’t quite found their way yet.

Uptown Music Theater Highland Park is a young company, but it is an example of a young non-equity professional theater that is doing everything right. From an administration standpoint, they are professional and well-organized. From a quality standpoint, they are also hitting on all cylinders. Under the leadership of board president Jamie Davidson, Uptown Music Theater Highland Park has a bright future.


The Addams Family has been around longer than many of us have been on this planet. A comically morbid family consisting of Gomez and Morticia, children Wednesday and Pugsley, live-in relatives Uncle Fester and Grandma, and butler Lurch, The Addams Family was introduced to the world as single-panel comics in The New Yorker starting in 1938.

Later the Macabre family became fully entrenched as a part of Americana with the launch of the live-action 1964 television series starring John Astin as Gomez and Carolyn Jones as Morticia. Although the series only ran for two seasons, it thrived in syndication (unfortunately before contracts gave actors residuals for such rebroadcast of their work).

The franchise gained new popularity in 1991 with a film adaptation starring Raul Julia and Anjelica Houston. Also starring Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester and Christina Ricci as Wednesday, it spawned an equally popular sequel two years later. Had it not been for the death of Raul Julia in 1994, who knows what other film adventures we would have seen?

There have been several other film and television incarnations of Gomez and Morticia and their brood, including the recent hit Netflix limited series Wednesday starring Jenna Ortega as the title teenage character.  From the mind of Tim Burton, the series has been immensely popular, receiving Golden Globe and Emmy nominations. Fans will be delighted to know it has been renewed for a second season.

Nestled in the history of The Addams Family somewhere between the first comic appearance in 1938 and the most recent television phenomena on Netflix, is a 2010 Broadway production starring Nathan Lane as Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia. Featuring music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, it had a popular run and picked up a few award nominations.

Uptown Music Theater Highland Park is now presenting their lively, well-done, and intensely fun version of The Addams Family through August 6 at the Northwood Theater. While the script and music are that of the Broadway production, director Matt Canon has his creative team show homage to many of the incarnations of the characters in all the various forms of media they have appeared in. The talented team has even thrown in a few of their own new ideas.

For those not familiar with the Addams, they are a kooky group of supernaturally-inclined oddities living in contrast to the Beaver Cleaver world around them. Think of them as the Goth O.G. If you were invited to a family reunion, black would be an appropriate color. In fact, if you were invited to a wedding, black would be an appropriate color.

The role of Gomez has been played by some great actors. John Astin will forever be the standard by which all future Gomez performers are judged. Raul Julia was phenomenal. Even Tim Curry did some enjoyable work in the straight-to-video Addams Family Reunion. Aaron Rumack has earned his place among those who have done the character of Gomez Addams right.

Rumack has the accent down. He has the look down. He has the comic timing down. He even has a sexy-Spaniard way of moving that is unique to the character. He is the biggest bright spot in a show that is overflowing with delightfully entertaining qualities.


Trillium Falotico is divine as the dark beauty Morticia Addams, the ghoulishly alluring wife of Gomez. She is a great singer and an exquisite dancer. Her form is breathtaking and her shimmy is heart-stopping.

Leah Jacobson throws a lot of Jenna Ortega into her Wednesday, and why not? The Netflix series is on the top of everyone’s mind right now. And, it works. But what Jacobson does on stage that Ortega doesn’t do on television is belt out songs. Jacobson is an incredible singer who owns the material. Wow!

In this Broadway version of The Addams Family, Wednesday has fallen in love with a normal boy and wants to get married. To facilitate the announcement, they are having Lucas and his parents over to the Addams’ house for dinner. It is the first meeting of the normal and the abnormals, and as you might imagine – there are challenges.

Lucas Beineke is nicely played by Justin Katin. His parents are also a ton of fun. Larry Mason is a stitch as Mal Beineke and Tiffany Melvin is a force of nature as Alice Beineke. Melvin brings down the house with her all-out vocal performance at the end of Act 1.

Michael Kirby is a very different Uncle Fester than previous versions, but different doesn’t mean bad. Not by any means. He is very funny and a fine singer. Kirby’s Uncle Fester reminded me a bit of famous wrestler turned B-movie actor Tor Johnson who was featured in Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space. I’m always a fan of giving a character a new twist.

While I really enjoyed all of the fine performers in Uptown Music Theater’s production of The Addams Family, one talent that really stood out was young Nathaniel Vodak as Pugsley Addams – Wednesday’s devilishly deviant brother who loves to be tortured. Vodak is a wonderful singer and dancer, and nails every comedic opportunity there is with his character. It’s always impressive when a child actor can hold their own with all the talented adults in the cast.


Among the other leads, Brock Hayden and Anita Silvert also provide a number of really good laughs as Lurch and Grandma, respectively. The tight ensemble includes Samantha Kroening, Madison Taylor Breford, Massimo Manfredini, Olivia Daly-Short, Max Perkel, Abby DeRosa, Betsy Pennington Taylor, Christopher Finch, Anna Widlowski, Bill Gordon, and Madison Jaffe-Richter.

While choreographer Sarah Makkawy Canon really hits a home run with the way she keeps all the players moving in a way that entertains and still further shows off their unique characterizations, it is the voices of the cast that will take your breath away. There is not a sour note in the show. Every singer is rehearsed and showing off their best work at all times

Music director Isabella Isherwood deserves credit not just for the fine form she has her singers in, but also for conducting a stellar orchestra. The musicians include Jason Hill and Tanner Jackson on keyboards, Raquel Navarro on violin, Matt Wolf on cello, Sachio Nang and Jocelyn Goodwin on reeds, Jon Rarick on trumpet, Tanner Jackson on trombone, Michael Lockler on guitar, Ethan Davila on bass, Ben Heppner on drums, and Noel Streacker on percussion.

Recognition also goes out to costume designer Lucy Ekin, set designer Bob Silton, sound designer Rich Neumann, lighting designer Joel Zishuk, and props designer Christopher Finch and associate Sue Vandi.

This is a really high-quality community theater production. Everyone in the audience seemed to be having a great time, and you could tell how proud they were of the cast. I know I had a great evening and was thoroughly entertained from start to finish.

The Addams Family has a short run, so make plans to see it right away. It plays through August 6 – Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM, with matinees on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 PM. You won’t be disappointed.

Performances take place in the Northwood Theater in the Northwood Middle School at 945 North Avenue in Highland Park, IL.

For tickets visit the Uptown Music Theater Highland Park website at

Another great show to put on your calendar is THE PRINCESS STRIKES BACK. This hit touring comedy is coming to Chicago for two performances. I highly recommend you catch at least one!

The Princess Strikes Back answers that question in a way everyone can relate to. It will make you smile until your cheeks burn and laugh like you haven’t laughed in years.

Coming to Chicago’s North Shore at the historic Skokie Theatre on Friday August 11 and Friday August 18,

For tickets:

Peace. Love. Trust.

Rikki Lee Travolta


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  1. What a great review! What a great compliment to Uptown Music Theatre! Bravo to the Addams Family cast and staff!

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