The Addams Family

Date 17th November 2018
Society New Mills Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society
Venue Arts Theatre, New Mills
Type of Production Musical
Director David Carlile
Musical Director Zoey Vickers
Choreographer Carolyn Dent

Report

Author: Kevin Proctor

The musical rendering of The Addams Family (a horror parody from the 1960’s which has seen copious reincarnations since) isn’t all that creepy, it’s a bit kooky, hardly mysterious and not necessarily spooky—but none of that really matters as the brief during its rendering into a Broadway musical was evidently to play up to the satire, which it does! It’s quite probably more down-to-earth than one may expect with the plot dealing with change in the family albeit in the most absurd ways possible. The biggest disappointment for me with the material was the lack of Cousin It who, sadly, doesn’t feature at all.

The set throughout was well designed. It manoeuvred with ease and complimented the space ideally incorporating some impressive stints within it needed to convey the ‘tricks’ which were executed with aplomb (and a giggle) – the efforts and craftmanship put into the set construction which complimented the script brilliantly were entirely appreciated and enjoyed.  

There was a striking opening to the show with a collection of hands poking through from an array of areas on and around the stage for each ‘click-click’ during the iconic Addams Family theme tune which kicks off the overture, the urge to join in was almost irresistible - A simple but wholly effective idea which set the tone of what was to come.

The orchestra was an ensemble of musicians with mixed levels of ability with the occasional undesirable sound coming from the pit in parts but all in all, collectively, they provided a sturdy foundation for the production with punch and excitement where required.

One of my favourite elements of this musical is the chorus of ghostly ancestors. This is likely to be the most ingenious idea behind the whole concept of The Addams Family musical. It works incredibly well having them locked out of their crypt, unseen by the principal players, making them available to move bits of set, watch the action and, of course, regularly provide vocals too. The ancestors looked terrific, they’d each created a character from a different point in history to make up the Addams family tree, all donning shades of grey, ivory and white to suggest ‘ghost’ while visually remaining detached from the principal characters, really well implemented.

Portraying Gomez is a mammoth undertaking which was tackled with gusto by Ian Tyler. There is a tendency with bravado characters like this to get swallowed up with the sheer amount that’s required to convey in such a short time as well as needing to build a rapport (almost instantly) with the audience early on. At times I sensed a hinderance in preventing the character to ground itself and to relish in the current instant, almost as if he was going through the motions of the moment but seemed to have his focus on the next bit rather than the current bit which is what could have been preventing him to ground his act. Although the show, and indeed this character, is somewhat frantic, and hilariously so, some chunks were rushed which prevented some of the subtle humour from landing. Gomez is an incredibly difficult character to accomplish, just managing to do what the script asks of the actor is an achievement which requires a lot of skill in itself, a lot of which was demonstrated by Ian which absolutely mustn’t go unnoticed.

Emma Taylor as Morticia had the appropriate presence and poise, quite the opposite to how Gomez is written, she’s composed, calm with a dry wit. Emma had the tone and aura of Morticia with a few excelling moments. The only criticism would be that she appeared far too young to have a teenage daughter though, to be fair, I doubt conveying a believable interpretation was at the top of the list when casting such a musical!

Wednesday Addams is a pinnacle central character in this musical rendering, she gets the best songs of the show and fronts the central plot.

The moment when a character bares all in a huge belty number is one of the pinnacle ingredients that make up the celebrated genre that musical theatre is. Harlie Farmer had many virtuous qualities of the gothic teen, a competent vocalist and modest actress though a sturdier physicality to command the stage during her epic moments would’ve pushed her act into another league. I got the impression that Harlie was shying away from the limelight a tad, particularly when her big number came and it was time to ‘give it!’ which did feel a little too safe. The assurance needed for moments such as these will come with more experience.  

Harry Bloor portrayed Wednesday’s fiancé, Lucas. This performance was skilfully understated which is something that could have the tendency to get drowned out amongst the plethora of lofty oddballs, but Harry’s act was genuine, entirely believable and skilfully put together without fighting for the emphasis to be on him when it shouldn’t be – a trait that’s all too rare in this environment. Harry made the only ‘normal’ character in the show one of the most interesting performances within it.

Jane Eastwood and Stewart Bowden were Alice and Mal, the future in-laws. Stewart did absolutely the right thing and took the back seat for the majority to allow his on stage wife to have her moments, of which she gets several. Jane had the tendency to cross the line to present an overly abstract character which threw her role somewhat off balance. The character of Alice has the potential to be quite hilarious indeed, but I felt that Jane was trying too hard to make us laugh that the momentum lost its way a bit with an energy that wasn’t as contained as it perhaps should have been, often with comedy… ‘less is more’ and it’s the more subtle moments that can proffer the biggest laughs.

Director David Carlile had a broad range of abilities to work with amongst his cast with some more experienced than others. He’d worked hard to present a balanced production though some fine tuning would have been the next step from a directorial point of view. Every member of the cast had been thought about and some bold ideas had been presented with strong visual results.

Uncle Fester, many peoples favourite Addams, did not disappoint thanks to Robbie Carnegie. His simple melody “la la la”-ing to the moon was charming but above all his impersonation of the character was second to none, utterly savoured conveying a faultless and solid act.  

When you think of Pugsley Addams, the image of a short plump boy with his horizontal stripy top comes to mind, here we got a slim Connor Wyse whose whacky energy made up for the lack of flubber in abundance. Connor was a joy as he embraced the antics of the sadistic youth.

Beverley Eaves put in a study act as Grandma Addams, at times I lost some of her words as a result of the voice used to portray the character but still, Beverley proffered a strong physical impression with a notable contained energy which graced her performance to convey a natural knack as a character actress.

Grant Quigley supplied us with some hearty chuckles as Lurch. Grant has a potent stage presence which takes many board tredder’s quite some time to accomplish so I was somewhat surprised to learn this this was in fact his stage debut! Hugely promising indeed!

NMAODS are now smacking us with crowd-pleasing romps. While this story is predictable and at times overly familiar but that can often be what makes a piece of Musical Theatre rather charming. By the end of the night we were snapping our fingers to the familiar theme. Good work!