Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not Creepy and Not Kooky

"8:00 p.m. (Ch 7) ADDAMS FAMILY - Wednesday asks her parents to act "like normal people" because her new boyfriend's parents are coming to dinner. Gomez: Nathan Lane, Morticia: Bebe Neuwirth."

As a slightly-early anniversary treat, Laurie got us tickets to see "The Addams Family" musical on Broadway last night. Had it been a half-hour episode of the 1960s TV series, I'm sure it would have been quite funny. Unfortunately, as a two-hour musical, it doesn't work; the jokes are few and far between and what there is of a plot is stretched thin in the first act and becomes all but nonexistent in the second act.

Bebe Neuwirth is a worthy successor to Carolyn Jones as Morticia and the play makes use of her skills as a dancer by giving her a big number in the second act. (Laurie commented that one of the back-up dancers was actually better than Ms. Neuwirth. I did not notice, as I was watching her dance rings around Nathan Lane.) As Gomez, however, Mr. Lane is no John Astin. His accent was some odd conglomeration of Spanish, Yiddish, and Lane-ish and, despite his flair for the outrageous, he never reached the level Astin did every week on TV.

As Uncle Fester, Kevin Chamberlin does a fine job channeling Jackie Coogan and Zachary James is an appropriately stiff and inarticulate Lurch. Jackie Hoffman is an amusingly wacky Grandma, while Krysta Rodriguez and Adam Riegler are okay as Wednesday and Pugsley. On the other hand, Terrance Mann is wasted as the boyfriend's father, given only one song in the second act.

And speaking of the songs, there was nothing memorable among them. In fact, while listening to the lyrics to two of them ("Crazier Than You" and "In the Arms"), I found myself thinking that these could not be the real words, that they were so ridiculous they sounded like a MAD magazine parody rather than part of the actual show.

On the positive side, the set reflects a Charles Addams sensibility, particularly the scenes with staircases that cross and seem to go nowhere but up and down in the same room. And costuming and make-up were spot-on, particularly for the ghostly Addams ancestors.

Finally, for those who came as fans of the TV series, the Overture hints at the show's theme song. It leaves one hoping that the show will end with the cast singing it, but unfortunately it never gets past the finger-snapping.

While Laurie and I agreed that the show left a lot to be desired, there were some fellow passengers on the train home who had also seen it and they thought it was "hilarious" and "one of the best shows ever." I'm sure the producers are hoping for more audiences like them and not too many like us.


  1. The show is based on the comic strips from the New Yorker, not the TV show that you compare it to.

  2. I've read most, if not all, of the collections of Addams' cartoons from The New Yorker. There are a few jokes -- most notably, "I thought she was YOUR mother." -- that came from them. But since there was no continuity in the single-panel cartoons (and certainly no music), saying the show is based on them is like saying "Jesus Christ, Superstar" is based on DaVinci's painting of "The Last Supper."

  3. Im not saying anything. The show's official site and representatives are. I just mentioned it because your post compared the show to the TV show - the former of which is supposed to bear no relation.

  4. Bob,
    "Successful" remakes of the Addams Family TV Series are difficult to make. The script and performances flowed so well, but more significantly, I think, the main characters of TV series showed us that we can be genuine without apology for our uniqueness which does not fly so well these days. Today, there is a prevailing expectation that our differences need to be understood and categorized before they can be accepted. I am confident that I could enjoy the play you and Laurie saw, but I would not expect it to promote the ideals of the original show.