Theatre

The Addams Family – Birmingham Hippodrome 

This review was originally published on The Reviews Hub

Like the Windsors and the Kardashians, The Addams Family is arguably one of history’s most infamous extended families. Created by cartoonist Charles Addams in 1938, the fictional kooky clan was brought to life in a cult television show in the 1970s, followed by two hit films in the 1990s. Their most recent incarnation sees the family take to the stage in a musical comedy based on a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, which premiered on Broadway in 2010 and is currently enjoying a UK theatre tour.

The Addams Family musical tells the story of Wednesday Addams, the original princess of darkness, who is now all grown up and has fallen in love with a ‘normal’ all-American boy. When she brings her preppy beau Lucas and his conservative parents home to meet her family, she begs them to act normal for just one night. “Define normal?” says her mother Morticia, “What’s normal for the spider is calamity for the fly.”

Wednesday confides in her father Gomez her plans to marry Lucas but begs him to keep it a secret from Morticia. Mr and Mrs Addams’ marriage is based on total honesty, and so Gomez finds himself torn between his wife and his daughter as he struggles to keep Wednesday’s secret.

The storyline does feel a bit on the thin side – the relationships between family members are what drive it, but the tension never quite ignites like it could. That said, this is a musical comedy not The Exorcist. With a fresh and funny score by Andrew Lippa and a wickedly good cast, it’s still hugely entertaining. Despite the Addams’ penchant for all things macabre – the torture, ghosts, darkness and disaster, it’s really quite upbeat.

Carrie Hope Fletcher further secures her position as one of the country’s most prolific musical theatre stars. She is superb as Wednesday, giving a more animated version than we’ve seen before, but as a young goth full of rage and love, her portrayal is pitch-perfect. So too is her powerful voice, which could frankly raise the dead – her solo Pulled is a real triumph.

Equally good are her stage parents, Cameron Blakely as the enigmatic señor Gomez and Samantha Womack as chilling matriarch Morticia. Blakely’s Gomez is charismatic, dramatic and just a little bit camp, and his comedic delivery is a highlight. His characterisation is a great contrast with Womack’s Morticia, who is like a deadly black widow spider but less friendly. She is sexy and simmering and has a surprisingly good voice. Her duet with Lucas’ mother Alice (Charlotte Page) is particularly good.

Praise must also go to Les Dennis, who is unrecognisable as Uncle Fester and makes the eccentric oddball instantly loveable. We don’t get to discover much about Lucas’ character, but Oliver Ormson gives an energetic performance and is more than a match for Fletcher’s vocal talents in their duet Crazier Than You.

A talented ensemble forms the deceased ancestors of the family Addams, adding to the dark and enigmatic atmosphere thanks to bewitching choreography by Alistair David and a clever multi-functional set, which transforms the stage from gothic rooms of the family mansion to dark, eerie corners within its grounds.

Strip back the spooky kookiness and the witty score, and at its heart, this is a story about two families coming together, and the message is quite simple – different is good, honesty is key and love conquers all.

The Addams Family is ghoulishly good fun. It’s laugh-out-loud funny and guaranteed to lift the spirits. All together now, buh-buh-duh-duh… click click….

Clare 

Runs until 10 June 2017 at Birmingham Hippodrome and on tour 

Image: Contributed

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