The Addams Family: Orpheus Musical Theatre makes the most of a mediocre story.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Photo, courtesy of Orpheus Musical Theatre

Charles Addams has a lot to answer for. He was the cartoonist who created the one-panel cartoons about the ghoulish Addams Family that appeared in the New Yorker magazine in 1938.

He could not know that his creation would become an American institution. Stories of the family morphed into a television sitcom in the 1960s, followed by a cartoon version in the next decade, two movies in 1991 (starring Anjelica Houston) and 1993 (The Addams Family Values) and even a video game and a very popular pinball machine later in the decade. Finally, in 2010, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice (the pair who wrote the script of The Jersey Boys) developed a Broadway musical version with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa.

Does the musical work? As much as any one-gag repeater with a wafer-thin storyline and constant reminders of one-panel cartoons can. Does Orpheus Musical Theatre Society make the most of a mediocre product? Unquestionably.

The Orpheus team has knocked itself out to celebrate the nasty family with inverted values and to underline the Broadway theme of love conquering all. As directed by Jenn Donnelly and designed by Donnelly and Tony Walker, the production maximizes the jokes and provides some memorable visuals from a winking moon to a flying character with eerily flexible legs that belong to another. Musical director Murray Doggett and his orchestra add perkiness to the mixed bag of numbers wherever possible and choreographers Jasmine and Jessica Lee bring joy and originality to the dance routines. One of the prime examples is the delightful presentation of Just Around the Corner.

As the Addams patriarch, Thomas Franzky brings a fine singing voice and considerable stage presence to the role of Gomez, while Stefania Wheelhouse is elegant, commanding and suitably Goth-like and macabre as his wife Morticia. Réjean Dinelle-Mayer as Gomez’ crazy brother Fester and Maureen Quinn McGovern as Grandma have great fun with their roles, while Samantha Clarke as Wednesday, the sullen daughter of the house, moves appropriately from sociopath to being embarrassed by her parents when she falls in love. Meanwhile, her young brother, Pugsley, (Jennifer Colbert) shows suitable distress when he can no longer enjoy being tortured by his big sister and Lurch the butler (Eugene Oscapella) serves the family at the requisite snail’s pace.

Andrea Black is a standout in delivering the official and the underlying personalities of Alice, the mother of Wednesday’s love interest, Lucas, while Jamie Rice is loving and necessarily wimpy, until he proves that he can be as crazy as Wednesday wants him to be. Completing the Beineke family is Charles Moir as the grumpy Mal, anxious to take his wife and son away from the spooky theme park of Addamsville, until his wife re-awakens his headbanger self of yesteryear.

Altogether the Orpheus production confirms that sometimes it is possible to create a silk purse from the sow’s ear of a silly script.

The Orpheus production of The Addams Family continues at Centrepointe Theatre to November 27

 

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The Addams Family

A New Musical Comedy

Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice

Music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa

Based on characters created by Charles Addams

Orpheus Musical Theatre Society

Artistic Director

Jenn Donnelly

Musical Director

Murray Doggett

Choreographers

Jasmine Lee & Jessica Lee

Technical Director & Master Carpenter

Steven K. Jones

Set Designers

Jenn Donnelly & Tony Walker

Costume Designer

Lesley Wilson

Lighting Designer

Chris Amott

Sound Designer

John Cybanski

Cast:

Gomez Addams

Thomas Franzky

Morticia Addams

Stefania Wheelhouse

Wednesday Addams

Samantha Clarke

Pugsley Addams

Jennifer Colbert

Uncle Fester

Réjean Dinelle-Mayer

Grandma

Maureen Quinn McGovern

Lurch

Eugene Oscapella

Mal Beineke

Charles Moir

Alice Beineke

Andréa Black

Lucas Beineke

Jamie Rice

The Addams Family Ancestors

Luc Cormier

Kelly Fuoco

Matteo Belloni

Eve Beauchamp

Bryan Jesmer

Roxane Delisle

Sarah Olberg

Trenton Poulin

Keegan Carr

Bennett Langdon

Orchestra

Musical director

Murray Doggett

Violin

Sophia Pan

Cello

Steve Smith

Reed 1

Mike Mullin

Reed 2

Mike Tremblay

Trumpet

Nicholas Dyson

Trombone

Mark Ferguson

Keyboard 1

Stephen Pankiewicz


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