The Hothouse was in Edinburgh for the Beltane Fire Festival on 30 April so wanting to make the best of our trip we booked tickets for the closing night of The Addams Family Musical at the city’s Festival Theatre the night before.
Now I’m not a fan of the big broadway musical, I thought Phantom of the Opera was a hideously pompous and overblown show, I much prefer the subversion of shows like Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show and fortunately The Addams Family riffs more off O’Brien than Lloyd Webber. OK the songs by Andrew Lippa are full on Broadway, but they have some nice Proggy-Goth flourishes and macabre funny lyrics much in keeping with the tone of the much-loved 1960s sitcom, and there are some very topical gags thrown into Marshall Brickman and Rick Ellice’s book.
As to the plot, the grown up Wednesday (Carrie Hope Fletcher) has fallen in love with Lucas (Oliver Ormson) a normal chap she found wandering around Central Park and has invited her new boyfriend and his parents around to the Addams Home for dinner. Naturally Wednesday, as all daughters do, wins over Gomez (Cameron Blakely) and this cues misunderstanding and conflict with Morticia (Samantha Womack) who doesn’t think a ‘normal’ is good enough for an Addams and Pugsley (Grant McIntryre) who is scared he will lose his playmate. Fester (Les Dennis) enrolls the help of the Addams passed (a colourful set of dancers who double up as scene shifters) and Grandma is just Grandma (Valda Aviks) while the shuffling giant that is Lurch (Dickon Gough) ushers in Lucas and his family for a night that they will never forget.
Naturally much of the story concentrated on Addams patriarch Gomez as he fails to keep on top of the competing demands of his family. I found Cameron Blakely’s interpretation of the character interesting channeling more of a frenzied Chico Marx than the urbane charmer personified by John Astin or Raul Julia. Samantha Womack held her own as Morticia, but for me the show belonged to McIntyre’s devious Pugsley and Hope Fletcher’s Wednesday whose moves and facial grimaces in white-face and pigtails reminded me of both Siobhan Fahey and Lene Lovich at their most demented.But then Wednesday always was the coolest Adams
As you’d expect the show closes with an energetic dance number that mutates from a sensual tango to some kind of frenzied flamenco giving Womack an excuse to hitch up Morticia’s signature long skirts and strut her stuff.
A very funny show with great costume and set design we give it a 666/666 and its now touring the UK and Ireland, visiting Northampton, Southend, Birmingham, Truro, Cardiff and Dublin, before closing in Manchester 9 September.
Trivia: Bebe Neuwirth (Lilith in Frasier) played Morticia in the New York production, now that would have been interesting to see.
And just to prove Wednesday is the coolest Addams here she is dancing to Alice by the Sisters of Mercy.