Review: ‘The Addams Family, A New Musical’ conjures ghosts and guffaws

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They’re creepy, they’re kooky and now they’re at the Wade James Theatre.

Directed by Carissa Meisner Smit, The Addams Family, A New Musical debuted Thursday, April 12 to a full house in the Edmonds Driftwood Players’ adaption of the Broadway production by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice.

Based on cartoonist Charles Addams’ satirical take on the modern American family, The Addams Family, A New Musical takes creative leeway with the frightening family in a way that is fresh enough to surprise while being comfortably familiar.

The story opens with the Addamses dancing a ghoulish gambol in the graveyard to summon their ancestors who guide the characters throughout the performance. All is well in the family’s macabre mansion until Wednesday Addams (Megan Acuna) confides in her father Gomez (Doug Knoop) that she is engaged to be married. The problem? The eldest Addams child’s fiancé, Lucas Beineke (David Naber), is a normal boy with well-to-do, conservative parents — Alice (Hayley Baudrau Gaarde) and Mal (Jeff Strom). To make matters worse for Gomez, Wednesday asks him to do the only thing the man living with a disembodied hand is afraid of: Lie to his wife Morticia (Tamara C. Davis) and keep Wednesday’s secret until the young couple can announce their engagement at dinner with both families present.

Those familiar with the Addams family from the 1991 film starring Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston will find Davis fits comfortably in the role of Morticia that was curated by Houston. Her stoicism is balanced by Knoop’s take on Gomez, who is as quick with a quip as he is with a sword.

Meanwhile, Acuna and Neiber offer night-and-day portrayals as star-crossed lovers — Wednesday’s doom-and-gloom persona contrasts with Lucas’ chipper personality, making him the human embodiment of a playful puppy. The couple’s chemistry is not dissimilar to April Ludgate and Andy Dwyer from the television show “Parks and Recreation.”

Standout musical performances include “Pulled” — a song of longing performed by Wednesday, who laments her identity crisis while torturing her younger brother Pugsley (Catherine Craig). During the engagement dinner, the two families play a game of “Full Disclosure,” which is similar to Truth or Dare without the “Dare” and features a show-stopping solo performance of “Waiting” by Alice (Gaarde).

The play’s supporting characters do not have to try hard to command the spotlight. Jennifer Price delivers a side-splitting performance as Granny and begs the question as old as the original comic — just whose mother is Granny? Is she Gomez and Fester’s? Morticia’s? Or is she, as Morticia says, just a squatter smoking pot in the attic all day.

Uncle Fester’s (Richard Wright) love for the moon (yes, the moon) provides the right amount of nonsensical silliness for a story about a family living in a Central Park mansion given to them because an Addams ancestor pleasured a queen.

Though the story is an unconventional take on the Addams Family known by most, the message consistently conveyed is that “normal is an illusion.” The Addams Family, A New Musical also maintains what the comics, television show and films intended — providing social commentary about the American family. On a set decorated with medieval weapons and candelabras, the play’s dialogue includes modern-day, slapstick references to pop culture and politics that is just bipartisan enough to entertain everyone.

The dialogue between the two married couples — Gomez and Morticia, and Mal and Alice — is heavy with relatable references to and jokes about marriage. Additionally, the newfound love between Wednesday and Lucas helps breathe new life into the decaying parts of their parents’ marriages.

Will the church bells be tolling for a funeral or a wedding? The Addams Family, A New Musical will run through May 5.

Tickets are $28 for general admission and $25 for juniors (18 and under), seniors (over 60) and military. They can be purchased here. Tickets are for reserved seating, and all sales are final.

For more information, contact the Edmonds Driftwood Players office Tuesday-Friday between noon-5 p.m. by calling 425-775-9600 or visit www.edmondsdriftwoodplayers.org.

The Addams Family, A New Musical

April 12-May 5

The Wade James Theatre
950 Main Street
Edmonds

Performances Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m.
Sundays, 2 p.m.
Special Saturday matinees on April 20 and May 4, 2 p.m.

American Sign Language (ASL) performance on Saturday, April 20 at 8 p.m.

— By Cody Sexton

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