by Noemi Arellano-Summer
Photo Courtesy of Facebook
“The Addams Family Musical,” performed by the Boston University Stage Troupe, kicked off Halloween season’s spooky shenanigans from October 21-23. The show blended iconic characters and imagery, yet gracefully pulled off additions of new characters, plots, and ideas.
The show was an adaptation of Charles Addams’ 1930s New Yorker cartoons, centering around an aristocratic wealthy family who enjoyed macabre and didn’t care if anyone thought them strange or frightening.
The musical lends itself more to the cartoons than to the various other adaptations, such as the ‘60s television sitcom or the films in the ‘90s. In the original cartoons, the family members didn’t have names or personalities, and the jokes were mainly unrelated single-panel gags. Addams created names and personalities for the ‘60s TV show. The films in the ‘90s were an adaptation of the TV show, as they carried on the element of slapstick humor. The musical producers wanted to create a new story that reflected the mordant wit and style of the cartoons.
Typically enough, the opening scene of BU’s show was a cemetery, where patriarch Gomez Addams (Evan Creedon) leads the rest of the family—living, dead, and undecided—in a celebration of what it means to be a part of the Addams clan. Meanwhile, 18-year-old daughter Wednesday (Rachel Smith) has a secret: she’s planning on getting married.
Wednesday wants to marry a normal boy, Lucas Beineke (Nathan Wilgeroth), who’s from—shudder!—Ohio. She’s invited Lucas and his parents, Mal (Esiri Madagwa Jr.) and Alice (Ellie Lavelle) to dinner. Both Wednesday and Lucas convince their parents to act “normal” for the evening.
What ensues is the perfect blend of relationship drama, both familial and romantic, music that is both silly and profound, classic Addams-like shenanigans, and surprising revelations.
“I had never seen the show before. The songs were catchy, and I loved ‘Full Disclosure’ [Parts 1 and 2]. It was the best number, and it was very funny. It was a good performance by all the cast,” said Julia Hess (COM ‘20).
With only five weeks to learn lines, lyrics and stage cues, Stage Troupe pulled together an impressive work, most especially the song “Happy/Sad,” sung by Gomez to his daughter.
Speaking of Gomez, the production was nearly impeccably cast. Creedon’s Gomez lends a Latin flavor to the role, with an accent that never seems out of place or too over-the-top. Danielle Diamond’s Morticia, on the other hand, has a taut sharpness that feels tied to her character.
Worried about her role in the family, Morticia spends much of the play convincing herself and others that everything is fine. (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t go very well.) As for the Beineke family, Lavelle’s Alice gives a light and comedic outlook on life (her advice poems spontaneously rhyme), tempered by Madagwa’s Mal, who performs the role of the cynic, which includes numerous New York jokes—did I mention the Addams family lives in the middle of Central Park?
Wilgeroth’s Lucas gives, like Lavalle, a very bubbly, upbeat performance that serves in contrast to Smith’s more subdued Wednesday.
The music covers a range of genres: the requisite Broadway numbers (“Full Disclosure Parts 1 and 2,” “Move Toward the Darkness” and “One Normal Night” are particularly enjoyable), duets (“Secrets” and “Crazier Than You”) and a truly epic tango number titled, fittingly, “Tango De Amor.” The orchestra performed every piece well.
“I laughed out loud and it cheered me up [even though] the set was dark and forbidding. The dance choreography helped fuel the comedy and the dancers were great,” said Paula Super, who attended the final performance.
Young Pugsley (Cassidy Donohue), Lurch (Dylan Herina), Grandma (Tori Jones) and the Ancestors are more supporting characters, though Pugsley’s actions do set off a large part of the finale of Act 1. The various adaptations and shifting relationships of the family members get a nod, as both Gomez and Morticia are uncertain over Grandma’s relationship to them.
Cousin Itt and Thing also make cameo appearances, and ancestors assist Fester (Andy Moeller) in helping the plot conclude on a satisfying note.