Who knew? I was sure that The Addams Family: The Musical was based on the dark but beloved zany 1960s ABC television series “The Addams Family.” Nope! The series was based on Charles Addams’s single-panel macabre New Yorker cartoons, first published in 1938. Addams collaborated with David Levy and Donald Saltzman in creating a two-season television show. He gave the characters, names, back stories, and a dilapidated quasi-Gothic Second Empire-style museum-like family mansion, probably inspired by his home. In the 1990s, three films were also spawned: The Addams Family, Addams Family Values, and Addams Family Reunion, along with other adaptations.
In 2007, the Tee and Charles Addams Foundation insisted that to obtain the rights to stage a Broadway production, the producers must create an original musical based on Charles Addams’ black humor comics, not the television show. The lyrics for The Addams Family: The Musical were created by Andrew Lippa, the book by Marshall Brickman, and Rick Elice (Tony Award-winning writers for Jersey Boys). Before it hit the Broadway stage, it opened in Chicago in 2009. Nathan Lane starred as Gomez Addams, with Bebe Neuwirth portraying Morticia Addams. From there, it transferred to Broadway. It was nominated for two Tony Awards. It won the Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Set Design. Nathan Lane was presented with the 2010 Drama League Award for Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre.
Metropolis Performing Arts Centre at 111 West Campbell Street, Arlington Heights, Illinois, is opening its 2023-2024 twenty-fourth season with The Addams Family: The Musical. This kooky, mysterious, spooky, fun family comedy is just in time to put you in the Halloween mood. Robbie Simpson artfully directs this macabre musical hit, while Jeni Donahue is responsible for the original creative, fabulous choreography. Musical Direction by Jeff Award-nominated Aaron Kaplan is superb. The eleven-piece orchestra’s sound is first-rate, and their timing is precise. The Ancestor ensemble’s dancing and singing were impressive. They had rich, lovely, glorious voices blending perfectly. The many dance styles were executed skillfully, as well as the acrobatic moves. Emily N. Brink is an experienced costume designer and masterful crafts artisan. Kudos to her for her fantastic mood-appropriate, timeless creations. Jazmin Medina is responsible for the fantastic wig, hair, and make-up design. Scenic design by Eric Luchen, lighting by Sam Stephen, and sound design by Daniel-Etti-Williams successfully draw us into a ghostly, mysterious environment.
The premise of this story is Wednesday Addams, the daughter of Morticia and Gomez, has grown up. She has fallen in love with Lucas Beineke, a gentleman from a more normal, respectable family. The Addams are to host a dinner with a secret to be revealed after the dinner mayhem of two opposite families imploding on each other. We find different is not so bad after all, and love truly reigns.
Courtney San Pedro (Wednesday Addams) skillfully depicts the Princess of Darkness, wowing us with her gorgeous, powerful voice. She has star power. Enzo Donoso plays Gomez Addams, the suave Castillion father. He has a beautiful voice and graceful moves, but he was not what I expected Gomez to be. I did not feel he connected with the audience like other leads and supporting actors. Kaity Paschetto is stunning. Her entrance onto the stage was mesmerizing. She epitomizes Morticia, the elegant, sensual, haughty Mother of Darkness to Wednesday and Pugsley.
Elliott Mayeda ably plays Pugsley, the younger brother who loves the torture that Wednesday puts him through. He has his own evil, deceitful side, too. Josh Frink as Uncle Fester looks the part of someone completely despicable and a deranged monster. He is bald, frighteningly rash, and pot-bellied with an evil smile and laugh. Yet Frink is able to present him as both friendly and charming. As the family’s mysterious Grandma, Jenny Rudnick makes great eye contact and connection with us. She is a comic delight. Kent Joseph is an iconic (Lurch) and experienced performer. He is just as you expect Lurch to be until he amazes us with his solo finale.
Dru Loman fits the role of Wednesday’s new love; Lucas Beineke plays the part of an artistic soul afraid of change from the traditional. He is also able to transform into the dark side. Savannah Sinclair is a stand-out actress belting out her tunes while playing Alice Beineke, the bored middle-class wife and mother who finally finds herself with the Addams Family’s assistance. Christopher Johnson plays Mal Beinecke, a stiff control freak, missing-in-action father, and husband who finally learns to loosen up.
On Opening Night, Artistic Director Brendan Ragan stepped out onto the stage front and center with a hospitable welcome to the sold-out house. He thanked the sponsors’ supporters and gently appealed for funding by becoming a Friend of Metropolis. Ticket sales only cover 40-50% of the shows. After the finale, Ragan led a Question and Answer forum with seven of the performers-four lead actors and three Ancestors. It was informative about the process of producing this 2-hour with a fifteen-minute intermission show. I loved that the show’s opening began with Vic Mizzy’s theme song for the television show. The audience enthusiastically accompanied the actors and musicians with the expected percussive finger-snaps.
Metropolis was founded in 2000 and hosts more than 300 performances of more than forty different productions with over 70,00 patrons in attendance each season. There is a convenient multi-level parking garage adjacent to the Centre, along with many charming restaurants on Campbell Avenue. I had never been to the Metropolis and found it an exceptional, homey, cozy, intimate setting. There are 330 comfortable terraced seats with excellent stage sightlines and the finest sound and lighting technology. This is a wonderful venue, and I was awed by the professional talent in a surprisingly lavish production.
There were many families with children in attendance who were very well-behaved. The Addams Family: The Musical is recommended ideal for children 8 and above. The children were in giggle paroxysms over the Grandma’s incident at dinner. They found it hysterically audibly amusing. The campy, ridiculous black comedy was a delightful evening of professional-level entertainment.
Single Tickets – The Addams Family, 9 to 5, Million Dollar Quartet
Student: $20 w/ valid student ID *preview and non-preview.
Photos: Courtesy of Jennifer Heim