One normal night is all that Wednesday Addams (Kendra Lodewyk) wants from her family. That’s all. However, when your family is named Addams that can be problematic. Like her namesake in that ancient rhyme, Wednesday’s child is full of woe; she’s found love and wants to marry Lucas Beineke (Sam Nowak), a “normal” boy from Ohio. The problem? She’s afraid to tell her mother because she’ll ask a lot of embarrassing questions and wreck the whole thing. The solution? Tell her father, set up a friendly dinner with both families, and then fully disclose the secret. What could go wrong? Well, just about everything! Will this be the end of The Addams Family? The plot currently unfolds in a Center Stage Production at the Midland Center for the Arts Little Theatre.
The Addams Family musical is based on the single panel cartoons created by Charles Addams. The first one, “The Vacuum Cleaner,” appeared in The New Yorker magazine. It wasn’t until Sept. 18, 1964, with the debut of the television show that Addams finally gave names to his macabre creations. The Addams Family musical with book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, opened on Broadway on April 8, 2010, at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre and ran for 722 performances, winning a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design.
Director Gardner-Northrop, aptly assisted by Susie Polito, carries the main theme of family love all through the night merging a cast of 22 with an 11 piece orchestra (directed by Sara Taylor, who achieves a nice balance between orchestra and singing) to provide two hours and fifteen minutes (with a 20 minute intermission) of fun.
As the orchestra finishes the overture, with a nod from composer Vic Mizzy, the action opens at the Addams Family Graveyard near their mansion in New York City’s Central Park where we find the annual gathering of the Addams Family Clan---living, dead, and undecided. After a rousing opening number, with some clever choreography by Jeanna Peglow, the ensemble of Ancestors find that Uncle Fester (Fletcher Nowak) has locked them out of their graves. He will let them back in when and if Wednesday resolves her dilemma with her love life. Fletcher also stands out in “The Moon and Me,” which includes an extremely creative interpretation of Fester’s love interest. The ensemble shines here, as well!
Meanwhile the Beinekes are on their way to meet the Addams Family. Alice (Marci Rogers, who shows great acting range), Mal (David Kingsworthy, who shines in “Crazier Than You”) and their son, Lucas, are almost at the door. Both Wednesday and Lucas plead with their families to grant their wish, “One Normal Night,” a show stopping number.
In the course of the evening, Lodewyk astounds the audience with her impressive voice! She utterly kills “Pulled” and “One Normal Night.” Her scenes with Gomez and Lucas display great chemistry. She is always in character and shows a great range of emotion with a huge stage presence.
Pugsley (Drew Hoag) shines in his lament, “What If,” as he speculates about how things will change with his sister if she marries Lucas.
Gomez (Steven P. Holty) has his best moments with his daughter. He is very moving with the poignant “Happy, Sad,” as he reflects on Wednesday’s growing up. Another show-stopper!
Morticia (Brooke Gomez) “kills” us in “Just Around the Corner.” Gomez’s deadpan portrayal adds to the darkness.
Lurch (Bernie Nowak) consistently wows us with his stage presence and his facial expressions. Anytime he interacts with the Beinekes is a hoot!
Grandma’s (Trena Winans) entrances and exits provide some high (or is it low?) comedic moments.
Garner-Northrop and Scenic Designer Evan Lewis make wise use of the available technology to pull off remarkable scene transitions. This helps keep a crisp pace. The sets are very functional and well-thought out. (I would have preferred darker colors to accentuate the spirit of the Addams Family.)
Lighting Designer JR Bornemann produces great effects through use of shadow and projections.
Costume Designer Sarah Constable’s masterpiece is Morticia’s gown; it captures the true head of the family’s spirit. Her choice of various colors for the Ancestors is an interesting one since their costumes are usually designed with whites and grays. The looks for Pugsley and Wednesday are quite good!
Sarah Harrington’s hair and makeup design add to the craziness, especially on Fester and Lurch.
There is a key plot point that gets lost during “Full Disclosure” involving a certain prop. The character that this affects needs to make this more obvious. Saying more would spoil the moment.
This is an exceptional production with extraordinary singing and acting!
So, embrace your “darkness,” see how crazy you are, find out what really is normal, and come calling on The Addams Family, but you better be “snappy” if you want to snag a ticket.
The Addams Family runs for the last three weekends of October at Midland Center for the Arts. Ticket prices, not including processing fees are $28 Adult / $21 Student, and can be purchased online or at the ticket office in person or over the phone at 989-631-8250 or 800-523-7649.