DALLAS Live-action film and television may have occasionally made Charles Addams' macabre characters known as the Addams Family less bone-dry than they were in his cartoons, first created for The New Yorker. But, by ghoul, they had nothing on the life-zapping (death-zapping?) effect of Broadway.
The Addams Family: A New Musical Comedy, the tour of which is the State Fair show for Dallas Summer Musicals, proves that you can't simply concoct a musical out of well-known characters without providing an interesting story, memorable songs or development of said characters.
With a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and music and lyrics by the usually reliable Andrew Lippa, whose work here is uninspired. This show's take on the characters that have been animated and played by human actors in film and TV (most notably the 1960s sitcom) multiple times might be the nail in the coffin of their legacy. We need someone like Tim Burton, who understands this kind of humor, to save them.
The story created here adds to the ongoing storyline with the ooky clan, as they are giddily oblivious to the fact that outsiders might find them strange. In this case, the outsiders are Mal (Martin Vidnovic) and Alice Beineke (Gaelen Gilliland), who are invited to dinner at the Addams estate because their son, Lucas (Curtis Holbrook), is in love with Wednesday Addams (Cortney Wolfson). Lucas and Wednesday, who is 18 here, plan to marry.
They know that plan won't set well with Wednesday's mom, Morticia (Sara Gettelfinger), but Gomez (Douglas Sills), always on the side of love, will try and make the announcement smoother for all. The kids also have some help from Uncle Fester (Glen Rose native Blake Hammond) and a band of ghoulish ancestors. The Addams fam also includes kooky Grandma (Pippa Pearthree), deep-voiced butler Lurch (Zachary James) and Wednesday's little brother, Pugsley (Patrick D. Kennedy, one of the highlights of this cast).
The show was originally directed by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, but taken over by Jerry Zaks and choreography by Sergio Trujillo, and opened in 2010 on Broadway. It somehow lasted a year-and-a-half on the Great White Way, no doubt thanks to its bankable stars Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth. In this tour, the stars work as hard as you'd image those two above-the-title names would, and Sills makes for a dashing and loveable Gomez.
The plot hinges on the concept that Wednesday is a woman now, but it's hard to take her as a relatively jaunty and looking forward to marrying a nice boy, rather than putting him on a spit. Maybe she saw the almost-as-dumb musical-from-movie Legally Blonde.
Life is not a greeting card, and despite Alice's rhyming speech that tries to pretend it is, the Addams were definitely never into the nauseating generalizations that you find on such cards. Broadway musicals like to do this in general, but to make the Addams family see life through rose-colored anything is just a bad idea.
Call this one a dah-da-da-dud. (Snap snap.)