I had my final university exams in May 2017, so I didn’t make it to very much theatre. In fact I went to see one thing in the whole month, which is the least I’ve been to the theatre all year. That said, what I went to see was great, and I’m so glad I went, even though it was less than a week before my finals. I went to see The Addams Family Musical at the New Wimbledon Theatre on the 19th May at 8.30pm, and came out, after a fun evening, thinking that it was a wonderful production of a mediocre musical.
I had a really fun night, and really enjoyed the production, which was colourful and detailed, and the performances which were mostly very strong. The set was striking, and impressive in its variation and slick movements, though it felt on the edge of being a little crowded on the stage when the full company (about 20 actors) were onstage. (This may well be because it is designed for a UK tour, and is going to theatres of varied sizes, and needs to fill stages significantly bigger than the New Wimbledon, I don’t know.) The costume design was definitely a huge, strong aspect of the show’s aesthetic, and it was spot on. Colourful and varied: I loved it.
The performances were all excellent, as far as they could be in fairly two-dimensional characters. I particularly enjoyed Cameron Blakely’s extravagant Gomez Addams, and Carrie Hope Fletcher’s forceful and alluring Wednesday Addams: the performers gave excellent renditions of the most interesting characters in the show. Blakely dominated the production with his charismatic rendition of Gomez and great comic timing, as well as the ability to bring in a little heart-wrench in Happy/Sad, a number he shared with Fletcher, about the complex emotions of watching children growing up. Fletcher’s singing was powerful and her presence was striking, though she, along with several other cast members, sounded a little vocally tired, perhaps due to the decision to have two evening performances in close succession (5pm and 8.30pm), which would exhaust anyone.
Samantha Womack’s Morticia was excellent, her singing was beautiful and her characterisation on-point for what she was given, but, unlike the characters of Gomez and Wednesday, she was less developed, leaving Womack seeming less inspiring than the other two lead characters, not through any fault of her performance.
The strongest supporting performances for me came from Grant McIntyre, as a childish but endearing Pugsley Addams, and Charlotte Page, as Alice Beineke (Wednesday’s boyfriend’s mother), who was endearingly uncertain until she drank the potion intended for Wednesday, and revealed a fantastic, feisty attitude. Les Dennis’ Uncle Fester was endearing and entertaining, though his singing left a little to be desired in the tuning department, and Valda Avik’s Grandma was enjoyable and amusing. Dale Rapley and Oliver Ormson as Mal and Lucas Beineke gave convincing performances of Ohioan Americans interacting with the unusual Addams family with horror and fascination respectively. Dickon Gough’s Lurch deserves special praise for excellent comic timing (slower than I would ever dare, but it worked!) and for some beautiful basso profundo singing in the final number.
The chorus of ancestors were strong singers and engaging dancers, though they occasionally seemed out-of-place, which I think is due to the musical’s writing leaving something to be desired, rather than the chorus themselves.
I did enjoy the musical itself, to some extent: it was funny in lots of places, and endearing in a few, but I don’t think it should make it onto your list of best musicals. It takes familiar characters, ages them a few years, and a familiar plot line (two families with opposing values meet because their children are romantically involved, awkwardness ensues, then everything ends happily ever after), which just feels a little lazy, compared to some of the other, outstanding musicals out there. There are some good numbers (Happy/Sad, Pulled, and Crazier Than You, were my favourites, in that order), but the musical as a whole felt, to me, a little bit too commercial and aimed at pure, meaningless entertainment, rather than discussing anything more serious. (The possible exception is the song Happy/Sad, which may be why it was my favourite.) The performers seem almost too good for the script, even when vocally tired, which is a shame.
That said, I encourage you to go and see it – I had a fun night, and am thrilled I went. You will get lighthearted amusement and fun, an amazing production in terms of design and excellent performances.
That’s all for this week, thank you as always for reading! If you’ve seen The Addams Family UK Tour, I’d love to hear what you thought in the comments! If you’ve seen any of the US versions, it would be fascinating to compare, so please tell me about those as well! Please like the post if you enjoyed it, and share it with your friends and family if you think they’d like it! I’ll be back next Friday with a post about the other thing I did on the 19th of May: a workshop about producing run by the National Theatre and Fuel. There will also be a bonus post in the middle of the week; make sure you follow the blog if you haven’t already so you don’t miss anything!