Although the new Addams Family musical touts itself as an updated version of the popular 1960s television show, this 21st century version unfortunately does not live up to its name.
This version of the Addams Family is set in New York City with a simple plot. Wednesday, daughter of Gomez and Morticia Addams, has been aged from a child to a young adult, and is in love with a boy named Lucas Beineke.
The plot revolves around her attempts to introduce the two families to each other and get her family to understand her relationship. All Wednesday wants is for her family to act “normal,” which given the Addams personalities and habits, is something that the audience knows will be impossible, and the fun lies in getting to witness their kooky behavior.
Despite falling short of the hype surrounding the show, the actors definitely deliver. This is not surprising given the fact that the Addams Family stars two of Broadway’s best performers: Nathan Lane as Gomez Addams and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia Addams. Lane is known for his deft comic performances in other musicals like The Producers, and he does the best he can with the material he is given. Neuwirth is a gifted singer and dancer with a deadpan sense of humor, but she isn’t given any material where she can truly show off her skills.
The other actors also do a good job portraying their characters, even when the material they have to work with isn’t the greatest. Standouts include Krysta Rodriguez as Wednesday and Kevin Chamberlin as Uncle Fester.
In addition to the strong performances, the set has a very spooky vibe and the costumes are very well put together. But the majority of original songs are forgettable and the only piece of music audience members will walk away remembering is the Addams Family theme song.
While the actors utilize the material they are given, the script has many pop culture references that don’t add anything to the story and jokes that are based on goofy, physical humor. For example, at one point in the musical, Gomez and Morticia argue over the use of the word “bootylicious,” and instead of making audiences laugh, it just feels out of place.
On the other hand, the last scene before intermission, where the Addams convince the Beinekes to share their deepest secrets before eating dinner in what the Addams call their game of “full disclosure,” does a good job at illuminating the family’s perverse interests.
The show’s biggest flaw, however, is that the members of the Addams family are just too happy most of the time. Gomez and Uncle Fester in particular have many songs that revolve around love. It is disappointing that the dark humor that made the TV show such a classic hit was not recreated for this modern telling of the story. Ultimately, audience members looking for a replication of the classic TV show’s dark humor will be disappointed. But even though the play may not live up to expectations, it does feature a handful of great actors and a few catchy songs, which may be enough for some to enjoy it.