The Henegar Center’s production of “The Addams Family,” photo by Dana Niemeier.
By PAM HARBAUGH
The affectionate undead gleefully haunt the Henegar’s spirited production of “The Addams Family: The Musical.” It begins during the overture when the familiar music from the 1960s television show starts. The audience immediately gets in on the act and “snap snap” before you know it, you’re hooked.
Truly. Before arriving at the theater, the memory of what came decades before takes over all reason and you have willed yourself into thoroughly enjoying this musical, despite its weak story line. Indeed. When the curtain rises on the deadpan Addamses standing as still as the tombstones around them, the audience responds with thunderous applause.
This is nostalgia, baby, and we want it just like we remembered it. And that’s what the Henegar gives us — a wonderfully realized recreation of the kooky and spooky and ooky Addams Family.
Directed by Hank Rion, the production lives and breathes not because of Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s thin storyline, but because of the talented cast, musicians, designers and crew who give their all…especially on an opening night with electrical outages plaguing downtown Melbourne and the Henegar, adding an uninvited bit of the macabre.
This production of “The Addams Family: The Musical” is different from the one which opened on Broadway in 2010. After some pretty harsh reviews, the show was re-tooled for touring and regional productions. Basically, the story revolves around Wednesday wanting to marry a normal guy named Lucas. She tells her father, Gomez, who agrees to keep the secret from Morticia. Eventually, the Addamses invite Lucas’ parents to a dinner, which here evokes DaVinci’s “Last Supper.” Pugsley spikes some special wine, which — you see coming a mile away — is consumed by Lucas’ mother. That’s about it. The show is just this side of a musical revue, moving characters around to set up Andrew Lippa’s songs.
Rob Landers finds more than the sexy Latin lover in Gomez, he hits the genuine core to the man, imbuing him with humor and tenderness, especially in “Two Things” and “Happy Sad,” which he sings flawlessly. Shane Frampton goes step to step with Mr. Landers as she brings out the sexy in Morticia in “Tango de Amor.”
With the quintessential forbidding glare, Gabrielle Marchion carves the perfect dismal look to Wednesday. She brings a lot of life to the stage in “Pulled,” in which her character tortures her younger brother, Pugsley (a wonderful Aidan Holihan). Daniel Grest delights as Lucas and is especially strong in the duet “Crazier Than You.”
Dana Blanchard nearly steals the show as Fester, the odd man who falls in love with the moon. In fact, in the second act, his “Moon and Me” is a piece of sublime theater magic which you really cannot miss. It will probably end up in Brevard community theater legend along with the old Phoenix Theatre flying an Angel onto the small stage in “Angels in America.” (Big help here from Joseph and Liz Lark-Riley of miR Theatre.)
In “Waiting,” Monica Toro Lisciandro lets her hair down as Lucas’ uptight mother Alice. She has accidentally taken some potion cooked up by Grandma (hysterical Leslie McGinty) and has her way with Lurch (an unforgettable Pete Jacobsen) before giving a piece of her mind to her closed-minded husband, Mal (a fun Aaron Karnes).
Conductor Staci Cleveland leads the very good pit orchestra, which sets a lively tempo to the show. But on opening night, more volume was needed from the singers as the orchestra frequently drowned out the voices. Choreographer Heather Mowad brings some fun energy, especially in “Full Disclosure.” Kate Sauer’s makeup design is terrific, as is Andrew Cline’s costume design.
No doubt, you will have fun at this show. You’ll thrill at the music, delight over the visuals, giggle at the characters and laugh at the Addams’ odd approach to family values. Oh yeah, and you’ll snap your fingers. Twice. Resistance is futile.
SIDE O’ GRITS: “The Addams Family: The Musical” runs through Nov. 2 at the Henegar Center for the Arts, 625 E. New Haven Ave., Melbourne. $16 to $25, service fee may apply. Call 321-723-8698 or visit www.henegar.org.