Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Arsht Center: The Addams Family (3 reviews)

The national tour of The Addams Family opened at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on October 25, 2011.
It's every parent's nightmare. Your little girl has suddenly become a young woman, and what's worse, has fallen deliriously in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family. Yes, Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, has a "normal" boyfriend, and for parents Gomez and Morticia, this shocking development will turn the Addams house downside up.
Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch (with help from Jerry Zaks) directed a cast that included Douglass Sill, Sara Gettelfinger, Blake Hammond, Pippa Pearthree, Patrick D. Kennedy, Cortney Wolfson, and Tom Corbeil.

Camille Lamb reviewed for the Miami New Times:
While watching The Addams Family musical last night... we were struck by the realization that the entire pop culture phenomenon is basically an extension of the idea of "opposite day." Bad is good, gloom trumps happiness, death is preferable to life, weird is normal, and hideous is beautiful.

In keeping with this theme, we'd have to say the play was just terrible (as in great). It was witty, socially relevant, and sometimes surprisingly racy (we'd feared it'd be Disney clean). Its subtle stage stunts and zombie-like choreography -- all set to a decent musical score -- made for a simply disgusting theatrical debacle. The audience was so appalled, it took to its feet for three minutes at the end of the show, pounding its hands together in an aggressive display of disapproval.
Douglas Sills played the lovably goofy and macabre Gomez Addams, milking the exaggerated Spanish accent that is the character's signature...  The actor's performance -- and his singing -- became more vibrant (more gruesome?) as the show went on.
Sara Gettelfinger, who plays Morticia, ...capably channeled her character's mix of gal and ghoul, lamenting the loss of her daughter when not delighting in dreams of death and destruction.
A darkly nerdy comedy, probably suitable for the whole family (the sparse sex jokes would go over any 8-year-old's head), The Addams Family musical would make a good way to usher in Halloween with a laugh.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
...if you go to see The Addams Family during its pre-Halloween run at the Arsht, you’ll probably have a good time. But you won’t be seeing a fabulous, flawless musical.
The Achilles heel of many a musical is the script, aka the book. Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice... haven’t figured out a way to mine similar gold from the kooky travails of the comically creepy Addamses. Sure, there’s the occasional delicious zinger... But overall, the revamped story is a weak way of stringing together Lippa’s musical numbers.
Sills is simply masterful, with impeccable comic timing, a booming Broadway voice and first-rate dance skills, particularly on the sparklingly seductive Tango de Amor. Unfortunately, he has a less-than-ideal partner in Gettelfinger’s Morticia. Though she looks fresh-from-the-crypt sexy, the actress here puts the “dead” in “deadpan.”
The talented Vidnovic and Moore are constrained in clich├ęd roles, though Moore gets a breakout losing-her-mind number on Waiting. All three “kids” are terrific (Kennedy is especially cute-plaintive as Pugsley sings What If), and Pearthree’s Grandma and Tom Corbeil’s basso, string-bean Lurch are rock-solid funny.

But the show’s sweet, playful heart is Blake Hammond’s Uncle Fester. He’s utterly adorable... serving as the show’s narrator, he’s completely upbeat, excited and engaging. Wish I could share his enthusiasm.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine:
Plot wise, (blah blah blah - ed.)....  Well, now that that's out of the way, on to the acting, dancing, singing, and they're all pretty damn good.
Douglas Sills is a standout as Gomez, his comic timing perfect as he stretches the silences after even the corniest of topical jokes, and believe me, there are a few of those.   Blake Hammond, as Uncle Fester, tops his performance with “The Moon and Me” and Patrick D. Kennedy as Pugsley grabs everyone's hearts with his “What If.”  Crista Moore... shines in “Waiting” as does Sara Gettelfinger as Morticia in “Death Is Just Around The Corner.”
The many sets... are cleverly designed and presented and unique use is made of the act curtain to frame each scene.  Lighting, costuming and puppetry are all excellent, but the sound is overpowering when the full company sings.   Solos are okay, but when everyone is in full belt it all just becomes noise.
...The Addams Family works well as musical comedy.  It's mostly funny, the songs are good and the performances are all they should be.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
If you saw the misbegotten mess on Broadway that was the musical The Addams Family, you may have heard the creative team tweaked the material for the road show that opened at the Arsht on Tuesday.

It’s a lie. This show wasn’t tweaked; it was overhauled from its cracked cranium to its rotting toenails. It may mark musical theater history: the first time that a road show was superior in nearly every department to the Broadway edition.
...this improved version is an unreserved delight. Get your tickets quickly; it’s only at the Arsht through Sunday and then moves to an equally brief run at the Kravis Center.

The humor is sublimely silly – in a good way – and it’s carried off with just the right combination of deadpan delivery and winking at the audience.
The re-animator of the show is “production supervisor” (meaning play doctor) Jerry Zaks. He was hired to rescue the 2010 show after its disastrous tryout in Chicago... Zaks has an artisan’s skill in crafting humor. You could see it after the short time he had to administer first aid to the Chicago production and it’s even more evident in the Frankenstein surgery he oversaw for this edition.... scores of arch looks and trenchant pauses, the precision timing of lines and the perfect pacing of the show, all reminiscent of George Abbott. More than most, his cast knows how to wait just long enough for the audience laughter to begin to subside before they resume the dialogue.
The Broadway cast contained solid troupers, but none of them other than Lane were as effective as anyone in this company. Every single performer here has a strong, polished voice and an assured skill delivering the comedy.
...Sills as Gomez – tall, dark, handsome, with a sex appeal that swashes and buckles with every flash of his eyes and rumble of his baritone. Sills... led the crew in dead perfect timing, intonation and uninhibited hambone-ey-ness. Students of musical comedy performance should take in the show just to see how it’s supposed to be done.
...the willowy Gettelfinger has a strange kind of reverse energy, which is perfect for the part. While she didn’t radiate much charisma, she slipped her punch lines into the proceedings like a scalpel.
Blake Hammond (remember his Alexander Woollcott in Florida Stage’s musical about the Algonquin Round Table, At Wit’s End?) makes an endearing narrator in Fester and, like everyone else, he has a rock solid singing voice plus a vitality to propel the evening. ...watching this tall roundish clown float around the stage is Lewis Carroll’s brand of whimsy.
...I never thought I’d write these words: Celebrate the holiday season and visit The Addams Family.
The Addams Family plays through October 30 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.  It opens November 8 at the Kravis Center in West Palm, where it plays through November 13.

No comments:

Post a Comment