The Addams Family at New Wimbledon Theatre
It is an open secret that Broadway-minded musicals demand more of their cast and that American casts seem more adept at rising to the challenges. Fortunately, that theatrical axiom is only proved to be slightly true in Aria Entertainment’s delightfully jocose production.
The musical, in essence, reimagines La Cage Aux Folles via Hammer Horror. In The Addams Family, crossbow-toting goth Wednesday Adams (Kingsley Morton) brings boyfriend Lucas Beineke (Ahmed Hamad) and his conservative Ohio-dwelling family for dinner. Wednesday makes a melodic plea to her family that they conduct One Normal Night. One of Grandma’s (Valda Aviks) potions and a game of Full Disclosure ensures the evening is anything but.
No bones can be made about the plagiarised plot, though; in some respects, the drawbacks to the show might be due to the spatial restrictions of the venue – Alistair David’s choreography, particularly in ensemble moments, looks awkwardly confined. In addition, there are notable moments where the lighting casts shadows off the off-stage actors moving into position for their entrances and there are audience members in the stalls trying to peer around the protruding box seats that mask the towers that flank the set.
These practical issues are easily disguised by the wealth of comedy Brickman and Elice have worked into the piece – more so than Andrew Lippa’s musical numbers (though Kingsley Morton’s powerhouse vocals cannot go unacknowledged). It is no wonder the talented Nathan Lane played Gomez in the original production: the character is a constant comedian. One can feel prudish adults, who have brought along youngsters during the half-term break, palpably squirming at Cameron Blakely’s (Gomez) delight in over-exaggerating his innuendo, but he is a well-cast performer, though his comic cogs take a while to warm up.
Some, however, are less successful. Dickon Gough’s Lurch (a character that is responsible for much of the visual comedy) seems to have been cast on appearance rather than comic capability. That is also, disappointingly, the case for Strictly Come Dancing winner Joanne Clifton as Morticia. The character is supposed to be a font of wit and yet the jokes never feel naturally or deftly delivered, unlike those in the hands of Scott Paige’s waggishly camp Fester, Valda Aviks’s gross Grandma and the double-act delight of Sean Kingsley and Kara Lana as the pseudo-Republican, emotionally-repressed Mal and Alice Beineke.
It is the performances that cover the show’s lack of tricks and make this production a musical comedy treat.
Photos: Pamela Raith
The Addams Family is at New Wimbledon Theatre from 15th February until 19th February 2022 and on tour thereafter. For further information or to book visit the show’s website here.