Arts » Theater + Dance

Review: The Addams Family

Beef & Boards’ rendition of The Addams Family is straight fun.

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4 stars 

Everyone in the Beef & Boards’ rendition of The Addams Family cast gets a solo and a star turn (including ancestors going way back to the beginning of time). It’s the collective delivery of the ensemble that lifts the “what every father fears” plot from humdrum to listen up because what’s unfolding on B& B’s intimate stage is close to the bone of every family — whose family is not a deviation from “normal,” what father doesn’t wince at giving up his daughter to ‘that boy’ and which mother is ‘old enough to be a potential grandmother?’

One can quibble that it’s nearly impossible to turn Charles Addams’ hundreds of 1938-forward cartoons (from The New Yorker magazine and elsewhere) into a 21st century musical, but the constraint placed on Andrew Lippa (music and lyrics) and Marshall Brickman and Rick Elise (book) was to stick to the evolution of a Spanish-heritage clan in a spooky Central Park mansion as rendered in black-and-white line drawings. Admittedly, most people in the audience on Oct. 10 were familiar with the television version and several told me they wished the show was “more like what I remember from TV.” That quibble aside, just enjoy this show for what it is — a family story with tenderhearted Uncle Fester at the center, vowing to keep us (along with the sprung from the crypt Ancestors) hostage until ‘love conquers all.’ Along the way everyone onstage grows and changes, and we too can become a bit wiser at the end.

The standout cast includes Eddie Curry heartwarmingly portraying a conflicted Gomez, Erin Cohenour delivering a magnificently icy Morticia, Shaun Rice winning our hearts as Uncle Fester, Amanda Butterbaugh proscribing a saucy Grandma, Samantha Russell evolving from Princess of Darkness into the girl of Lucas’ dreams (the ‘I can be crazier than you are’ Blake Spellacy), Simon Barnes showing what every little brother fears, Jeff Stockberger turning in one of his finest portraits as Lurch, John Vessels and Sarah Hund representing a classic ‘60’s lost our way marriage and, as the high stepping “dead, undead and undecided” sextet—Jennifer Ladner, Samuel McKanney, Amy Owens, Peter Scharbrough, Kenny Shepard and Christine Zavakos.

High praise to director Eddie Curry for an inspired use of the B&B space, Ron Morgan for choreography that neatly folds into and advances the storyline, and a super design team—Michael Layton, David Melton, Ryan Koharchik, Jill Kelly, Daniel Hesselbrock, Daniel Klinger; along with technical director Bill Mollencupp and stage manager Elizabeth Stark.

Continues through Nov. 22. Tickets at: 317-872-9664, more information at beefandboards.com.

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