Review by Jono Oates
The Addams Family Musical
The Sutton Coldfield Musical Theatre Company
Lichfield Garrick Main Theatre
Monday 4 July 2022 – Dress Rehearsal
When I was growing up, in the 1960s, one of the most familiar theme tunes on the TV was the Addams Family…’They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re altogether ooky…The Addams Family’. On Monday morning breaktime all the kids at my school would rush round singing it at the top of their voices before coming to a halt and furiously snapping their fingers and clicking their tongues before setting off on another frenzied lap. So, when I heard that the Sutton Coldfield Musical Theatre Company (SCMTC) were putting on the musical version of the Addams Family I couldn’t wait to see how the ookiest family in TV history transferred from the small screen to the big stage!
The musical is based upon the main characters from the iconic TV series but was an entirely new show, with script from a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. First performed on Broadway in 2010, it has been touring in Britain since 2016. Although all the old favourites are featured: Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester etc the writers introduced a new family, the Beineke’s, who come from the mid-West of America, are rather middle-class, and who are totally unaware of just how spooky, and ooky, the Addams family are.
The plot revolves around the growing romance between the Beineke’s son, Lucas, and the Addams daughter Wednesday. The two mix-matched families are brought together at the Addams bizarre mansion, mysteriously situated in the middle of New York’s Central Park. Despite Wednesday threatening the rest of the family to ‘act normally’ this is just not possible and Mal and Alice Beineke soon realise that their son is potentially marrying in to a ghoulish, and very strange family. As both families struggle to come to terms with each other’s very different backgrounds, a post-dinner challenge game gets out of hand, and soon both the Beineke’s, and Addams realise that they may have to completely re-evaluate their outlook on love, marriage and recognising different cultures before Wednesday and Lucas can find true happiness together.
Although the Addams family definitely have some unconventional ways, and some disgusting and brutal personal habits, there are also a lot of laughs, practical jokes and spiky one-liners in this very colourful, engaging and darkly-humorous show. The musical numbers are very catchy and although I had never seen the show before, the tunes seemed very familiar.
Mark Skett as Gomez is excellent throughout, with a wonderful phoney Spanish accent, and desperately trying to keep the lovely Morticia in love with him. Morticia herself is played by Kate Pilling, a regular SCMTC performer with a lovely clear voice and a svelte and alluring dancing performance! Another regular is Charlotte Jervis as the troubled Wednesday, trying to move away from the black arts and towards the fresh new yellow colours of teenage love. Louis Patterson was Wednesday’s love interest Lucas, the all-American boy who loves her so much he is prepared to put his head on the line…quite literally. James Fisher plays the barking-mad Uncle Fester, a truly devoted performance as no temporary bald skull-cap for him, but a 100% number one all-over head shave which will last well after the final show final curtain has fallen! Simon Smith is the straight-talking and visibly shaken Mal Beineke and his wife Alice is played by Sarah Corden who turns from mild-mannered poem-quoting mumsy-mum to a scene-stealing diva after accidentally downing a spiked drink. The role of mischievous younger son Pugsley, with a disturbing demand to being tortured at all times, was played by two young actors, Alfie Stevens and Jack Smith, both very assured performances. The foul-mouthed not-so-kindly centurion Grandma is played by Paula Lumsden, with the help of make-up and costume. Finally, Tony Orbell as the larger-than-life non-communicative Lurch. With a very limited vocabulary he is put on the spot when Mal Beineke asks him about himself. Lurch’s response is truly bizarre and bewildering leaving Mal, and the audience, completely dumbfounded and non-the-wiser – a very funny comic cameo.
Now you know that I cannot write a theatre review without a mention for the ensemble. They are the ghostly relatives of the Addams family from across the generations and move across the stage unseen by the non-believer Beineke’s – think Dawn of the Dead mixed with the BBC comedy Ghosts – hilarious!
Choreography by Maggie Jackson, is sharp, clever, electric and dazzling, the ensemble pieces are wonderful and just such great fun, and with their ghostly costumes and faces you just cannot help thinking about Jackson’s Thriller. Musical direction is by Sheila Pearson, a perfect blend of lively dance numbers and smooth ballads and the Stage Manager is Hellie England.
The director is Chris Stanley, who I’ve known for many years, both as a theatre reviewer and in our previous ‘day jobs’ and this production is right up his street. Funny, quirky, wacky, seeing the funny side of even the dark and the macabre, it’s a very happy and professional cast who do, as ever, seem to be enjoying it just as much, if not more, than the audience.
Finally, a huge shout-out to the costumes, make-up and the set design – just fab-u-lous as someone says. Truly stunning, sensational and funny, the whole cast look incredible. As I walked out of the theatre after the dress rehearsal they were streaming into the auditorium for the ‘wash-up’ and actors who I have known for ages walked past me without me recognising them at all – brilliant.
The Addams Family Musical is just how I remembered the original 1960s series – although now in full dazzling rainbow colours compared to the black and white monochrome TV I watched it on – and it is just as kooky, spooky and ooky as ever. A witty script, sing-a-long song book, some very clever stage props and tricks, a slick professional performance of a musical that has the weirdest collection of characters you will ever see on stage – and towards the end the finger-snapping tongue-clicking closing moments of that iconic theme tune make an appearance which I couldn’t help joining in with – and, for a fleeting moment I was my 7-year-old self, running round the playground with my mates at Four Oaks County Primary…and that has to be a good thing, right? Oh – and if you were thinking I had forgotten about The Thing…well, look very carefully and you may just spot an appearance or two….
The Addams Family Musical runs at the Lichfield Garrick Main Theatre from Tuesday 5 to Saturday 9 July, performances start at 7.30pm, with a matinee at 2.30pm on Saturday 9 July. Ticket prices start from £20 and can be purchased at the Garrick Box Office, ring 01543 412121 or book online at: www.lichfieldgarrick.com/whats-on/all-shows/the-addams-family-presented-by-sutton-coldfield-musical-theatre-company/2937#schedules