Stoneham Theatre Serves Up Halloween Treat With ‘Addams Family’ (4 Stars)

The Addams Family, A New Musical ‘ – Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa; Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice; Directed by Weylin Symes and Choreographed by Ilyse Robbins. Music Direction by Jim Rice; Scenic Design by Kathryn Monthei Lighting Design  by Jeff Adelberg; Costume Design by Elisabetta Polito; and Sound Design by John Stone. Presented by Stoneham Theatre) at 395 Main Street, Stoneham through November 9th.

The ‘Addams Family’ could be a typical “boy meets girl” story, except that this particular boy encounters the extreme Gothic touch when he brings his parents to meet his girlfriend, the formerly gruesome Wednesday Addams, in this delightful comic romp. Lucas Beineke (Jordan Ahnquist), a young man from a straight-laced family, has fallen for the quirky Wednesday (Sarah Porthier), daughter of Morticia (Vanessa Dunleavy) and Gomez (Steve Gagliastro). Wednesday, now a grown woman, has confided to her father that she actually wants to marry Lucas and has sworn her dad to secrecy. Keeping a secret is ghastly when you’re an Addams, and the beautiful Morticia is mortified when she hears that Gomez has lied to her. She is dour and unforgiving. 

Who’s to say what could be normal at a dinner party attended by the Addams’ extended family including son Pugsley (Phillip Dragone), Grandma (Stoneham native, Kathy St. George), Uncle Fester (Thomas Derrah) and served by the lovable zombie Butler, Lurch (Colby Morgan). The food could be strange and the drink dangerous.

It helps to have seen the Charles Addams’ cartoons or the popular TV series to understand some of the classic jokes and sight gags. This play recreates, to some degree, those TV characters and allows for an updating of the era with some political comments that keep the show timely. The family’s rundown manor is located in the middle of Central Park, NYC, with a view of the graveyard where the Addams ancestors dwell, and from which they can conveniently visit their living relatives. The ensemble of Ancestors have strong voices which blend favorably. The talented band of five musicians, headed by Music Director Jim Rice, work seamlessly through the various styles of music from Ballad to Tango. 

A parallel storyline revolves around Gomez’s lunatic brother, Uncle Fester, and his abnormal fascination with the moon. Fester’s moonlight serenade was certainly a crowd pleaser and included the tossing of an over-sized beach ball/moon through the audience. Always the entertainer, Fester entertained us with some creative ballet steps. And

In this dysfunctional family, why would anyone be surprised to witness
Gomez and Morticia discovering that neither knows who is related to
Grandma. Grandma delivers lines like “Stop the damn texting and pick up
a book once in awhile” and relishes her role as a self-perceived “cougar.”

Personally, I enjoyed the references to current events and the interaction with the audience. Unexpected ways to break the fourth wall ranged from handing a skeleton hand to the first row, to asking the audience in the Mezzanine questions.
My two favorite scenes were the highly choreographed dinner party with the song “Full Disclosure” and the sweet scene between a crossbow toting Wednesday and her dad as they sing a duet. The dinner table scene sparkled with wit and had a good balance between the fun & macabre characters as they all played “The Game”.

We also experience some memorable Adams Family traditions like teasing/torturing the youngest, dancing the Tango, and Pugsley’ s good night chat with his worried mom. 

The audience was ready from the very start with finger-snapping when the infectious musical theme began. Just remember it is Halloween season. and
Lurch’s Zombie-like exaggerated slow pace – even in hurry mode, just won’t do it.
Hurry and go see this production. For more info, go to: