By Dale King
The Addams Family has been around for just over 80 years, whether featured in single-panel cartoons by New Yorker artist Charles Addams, on television, in film, animated or on Broadway. Even folks not born when the TV series with John Astin and Carolyn Jones was broadcast from 1964-66 are likely to recognize the iconic theme – da-da-da-dum, snap, snap.
Even though they have a zombie for a butler, a cousin covered in hair and a dismembered hand named “Thing” in a box, among other macabre creatures around the house on Cemetery Lane, the Addamses are still a family, a group that anyone who has lived in a family can relate to.
The Addams Family: the Musical, has risen from the graveyard of retired Broadway shows to spend the Halloween season in Delray Beach, presented by members of Entr’acte Theatrix. It opened last weekend at the Crest Theater, where the audience broke out in giggle fits. The addled Addams family can be seen at the Crest through this Sunday.
Entr’acte brings a stage full of characters to the Crest proscenium. In addition to the originals, the show features Mal, Alice and Lucas Beineke (Mark Kirschenbaum, Nicole Stav and Robyn Eli Brenner). Wednesday Addams (Mary Grace Tesoriero) is now 18, and Lucas, son of Mal and Alice, wants to marry her. That’s the basic plot that spins this Addams update into a funfest that would put a grin on the Great Pumpkin’s face.
As we might expect, there’s friction between the Beinekes and the Addams over the latter’s eccentricities. Not to mention some disagreements within each of the families. In fact, Gomez (Carlo Sabusap) must promise Wednesday to hide her plans from his “cara mia,” wife Morticia (Ashley Alexander). And lying to her is something he’s never done.
The ensemble also includes a group of Addams Family ancestors, who visit from their graves for the nuptials. When the likelihood of a wedding goes dim, Uncle Fester (reliable actor John Costanzo) decrees that none of the dead can go home until love prevails.
Let’s not forget the music. Composer/lyricist Andrew Lippa said he wrote most of the score to match each character’s personality. This included giving Gomez flamenco-style Spanish music, Wednesday a more contemporary song style and Fester a vaudevillian flavor. Fester’s “Let’s Not Talk about Anything Else but Love” is jazzy and swingy, and “Happy/Sad” is a near-tearful ballad shared by Gomez and Wednesday late in the show.
The Latino music line is evident in a number of tunes, including the first song, “When You’re an Addams,” with the company setting down the family initiative with a south-of-the-border beat.
The song “(Death Is) Just Around the Corner” is a softshoe that opens Act II. That moves straight into “The Moon and Me,” Fester’s love song to the lunar orb. Later, when Fester appears on stage with a rocket pack on his back, Mal’s wife asks, “Where are you going?” Fester tosses back a classic line, “To the moon, Alice.”
With 19 cast members, this show has a lot of action. The music is great, and the vocalists are top-notch. Director Jeremy Quinn manages to keep the players in check and choreographer Daniel Nohrden shares some excellent steps. The man behind the music is Roger Blankenship, who keeps the show right on track.
Sabusap is excellent and elegant as the sophisticated man-of-the-haunted-house Gomez. He pairs perfectly with Ashley Alexander, whose slinky, stage presence will keep the audience – at least the guys – distracted. The pair fits in one last dance – “Live before We Die (Tango De Amor)” before the stage clears to “Move toward the Darkness.”
Tesoriero portrays Wednesday with much more life than some of her celluloid depictions. Classical training in voice and acting are obvious in the young lady’s stylish delivery. Pugsley (Greg Halmos) is sometimes overlooked, but he adds enough oomph to make his character live.
The Addams Family: The Musical continues Friday and Saturday at 8, Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Crest Theatre, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach. Tickets are $35 and $45. Call the Crest at 561-243-7922.