The Addams Family first appeared as a cartoon panel in The New Yorker in 1938. Along with the iconic TV series that aired between 1964 and 1966, there have been several feature films and an animated cartoon series showcasing the Addams’ macabre interests and bizarre behaviour in their attempt to fit into the modern world, and to make it fit them.
But who knew that The Addams Family also spawned a musical? Albatross Musical Theatre Company did - it's their latest production and it's an absolute hoot.
The narrative follows the love story of daughter Wednesday, who has fallen for the "normal" son of a "normal" family. What ensues is a riot of conceptions, pre-conceptions, and misconceptions, driven by the sublime characterisations of the lead and supporting players, more than ably backed by a ghoulish and spooky ensemble of the undead. This is the key to the success of this show; the casting is spot on and the production bounces from scene to scene with performances that have the audience constantly laughing out loud.
We're familiar with the eccentricities of patriarch Gomez and his oddball clan, where unhappiness is happiness, wife Morticia craves the cold embrace of the grave, and the perfect holiday is a trip to savour the sewers of Paris. Less familiar are the songs in the musical, but somewhat appropriately, this is the odd strength of The Addams Family.
You won't know the words or the tunes, but that doesn't matter. As with the dialogue, they are sprinkled with witty, poignant, and downright hysterical ruminations and observations, and it is this surprise factor that makes The Addams Family such a delight.
The vocals of Tylah Heany (Wednesday) and Beckie Zandstra (Morticia) are a highlight, and Darren Lester as Gomez Addams is superb in a role as demanding as any in musical theatre. Special mention also to Paul Fraser (Uncle Fester) and Kate Morris, (Grandma) who steal every scene in which they feature, and to the production designers, whose costumes, sets, lighting and sound add brilliantly to the kooky atmosphere of the show. Throw in the full orchestra who, as always with AMTC, are excellent, and you have another winner for a company continually challenging the notion that they are "amateur".
The Addams Family tackles the issue of what it is to be "normal", explores the difficulty of relationships, and delves into our inherent desire to fit in. Ultimately though, the show is about family and love - and that's not kooky at all. Go and see it!
("Thing" is quite handy too...)
The Addams Family opens Friday 1 November at the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre - click click here to get your tickets now!
- Max -