“The Addams Family” was created by artist Charles Addams in the 1930s, the characters originally appearing in a series of cartoons published in The New Yorker magazine. The cartoons were popular and eventually led to a television series, which aired from 1964 to 1966, its cast including John Astin, Carolyn Jones, Ted Cassidy and Jackie Coogan.
The interactions between a family of macabre ghouls and the “normal” world create both conflict and comedy. Gomez, patriarch of the family, is a Latin lover with an affinity for the undead. His wife, Morticia, is a vampire. Their butler, Lurch, is a zombie. Their children, Wednesday and Pugsley, have their own chilling quirks. Uncle Fester and Grandma Addams round out the core of the oddball family tree.
Two feature films followed in the 1990s, and the popularity of the Tim Burton series “Wednesday” on Netflix has reinvigorated interest in Charles Addams’ characters.
“The Addams Family” musical was created in 2009, written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. This loose adaptation of the cartoons and films tells its own original story, in which Wednesday Addams has fallen in love and wishes to marry a normal boy, Lucas Beineke, meaning the two families must meet.
Starring Nathan Lane as Gomez, and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia, the musical premiered on Broadway in 2010. It was nominated for two Tony Awards. Subsequent revisions have made the show even more appealing to audiences.
The musical is full of humor, heart and catchy songs. It is a celebration of the Addams characters’ unique and kooky ways, while underscoring that family is the most important thing in the world, no matter how different you are.
The Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights continues its rebranding efforts with its revival of the show. Under the exquisite direction of Robbie Simpson, the musical is a bona-fide home run.
The Metropolis version features phenomenally impressive production numbers with big voices and precision dancing. And while there are striking performances throughout the cast, the three leading ladies steal the show.
Kaity Paschetto simply owns the role of Morticia Addams. Her every nuance is planned and calculated – from the way she short-steps her walk in a form-fitting black gown to the way she elongates her fingers to tap her arm in moments of impatience. Paschetto’s Morticia is a work of art. And when she breaks out in song and dance, she takes the entire show to a whole new wow factor.
Courtney San Pedro adds to the legacy of great performers tackling the role of Wednesday. San Pedro has the deadpan delivery of Wednesday down pat, including some hilariously dry reactions. And she is an incredible vocalist. Her delivery in the numbers “Pulled” and “Crazier Than You” is simply divine.
The third actress to make a stunning impact is not so much an Addams as an Addams in-law. Savannah Sinclair plays Alice Beineke, mother of Wednesday’s betrothed, Lucas. Thanks to a mix-up with magical potions, the character’s emotions are explosive at the end of Act I, and she channels all the mania of a psychotic break. Sinclair’s passionate rendition of the song “Waiting” is one for the ages.
While the female leads threaten to run away with the show, the cast also includes some very talented performers in male roles. Enzo Donoso instills exuberance into his high-energy performance as Gomez. Understudy Joey Pretty subbing for Josh Frink on the reviewed performance is fittingly kooky as Uncle Fester, who, in a fit of delusional thinking, decides he wants to date the moon. Kent Joseph gives Lurch the requisite stiff-knee treatment, and adds more animated expressions and verbalizations than seen before.
On the night of this review, understudy Dani Goldberg did a fantastic job as Pugsley – you would never know they weren’t the original actor cast (that honor going to Elliott Mayeda). Jenny Rudnick is also impressive as Grandma Addams – a bizarre old mystic who may or may not be an actual family member.
Dru Loman is appropriately strait-laced as Lucas, Wednesday’s opposites-attract love interest. Christopher Johnson is equally good as Lucas’ father, Mal.
The musical features a strong ensemble that the director uses brilliantly. Choreographer Jeni Donahue and music director Aaron Kaplan have the actors passionately filling the stage for maximum effect. The ensemble includes Nikki Ahlf, Jenny Couch, Angel Diaz, Maya Hillman, Alex Iacobucci, Ciara Jarvis, Will Leonard, Shaun Peters and Joey Prette. Swings are Logan Friese and Noelle Jay.
I enjoyed all the members of the ensemble. Will Leonard, playing a caveman ancestor of the Addams, practically absconds with all of the audience’s attention despite having no dialogue. I love seeing such in-depth characterization by ensemble members.
Costume designer Emily N. Brink and scenic designer Eric Luchen have done excellent work. Brink’s costumes, in particular, are spot-on perfect, and represent many eras of history with authenticity.
Lighting design is by Sam Stephen, sound design is by Daniel Etti-Williams, props are by Patrick McGuire, and hair and makeup are by Jazmin Aurora Medina, with assistance from Miguel Ramos Jr. The stage manager is Kyle Aschbrenner.
“The Addams Family” is a classic and beloved franchise, and the Metropolis musical is a delightfully entertaining show. The cast is talented and enthusiastic, and the production values are top-notch. The show even features an unscripted cameo by one of the most beloved characters from the television series, as well as a few other surprises.
If you are looking for a fun night out, I highly recommend seeing this family-friendly musical extravaganza, offered just in time for Halloween.
The Metropolis production of “The Addams Family” is running now through October 8, 2023. The performing arts complex is located at 111 W. Campbell Street in downtown Arlington Heights. For tickets and more information, visit www.MetropolisArts.com or call the office at (847) 577-2121
IF YOU GO
WHERE: Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights
WHEN: Through Oct. 8
INFORMATION: www.MetropolisArts.com, 847-577-2121
A variation of this review is published by Northwest Herald/Shaw Media.
Photo credit: Jennifer Heim
Peace. Love. Trust.
Rikki Lee Travolta
For more reviews visit: Theatre in Chicago – your source for What’s on Stage in the Chicago Area
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