The Addams Family

Date 19th February 2020
Society Brighton Theatre Group
Venue The Old Market, Hove
Type of Production Musical
Director Michael Burnie
Musical Director Jo Barnes
Choreographer Jodie Michelle
Producer Keith Shepherd

Report

Author: Mark Hall

The Addams Family was one of my favourite TV shows growing up. When I heard it was being made into a musical a few years ago, I was really excited. Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice were engaged to write the book, with the superb Andrew Lippa composing the show's score. The show is a comical feast that embraces the wackiness of the popular characters from the TV Series. The musical features an original story: Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, has grown up and fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family– a man her parents have never met. And if that wasn’t upsetting enough, Wednesday confides in her father and begs him not to tell her mother. Now, Gomez Addams must do something he’s never done before– keep a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia. Everything changes for both families on the fateful night they host a dinner for Wednesday’s “normal” boyfriend and his parents.

The script is funny and clever and Director Michael Burnie excels at accentuating the already hilarious script with clever characterisations and physical comedy. Michael ensures that cast are well rehearsed and professional, this was exemplified by a slightly stuck curtain towards the end of the second act to which, not a single cast member reacted in any obvious way. They simple performed around it as if it wasn’t there. A very professional attitude and the cast should be commended because it was easy to forget that you were watching a youth production. The maturity of the performances belies the cast. And what a fabulous cast it is.

Samuel Levene as Gomez Addams has a voice that I could listen to all day. Mellow and soulful with effortless vibrato, he captured Gomez to a T. Samuel was perfectly complimented by Lucy Morgan as his wife, Morticia Addams. Again, vocally delightful, in particular during Death is Just Around the Corner, the chemistry between these two was electric and they were truly outstanding.
 
 Jacob Savva was a delightful Pugsley, full of genuine emotion that his beloved sister would no longer torture him. Bailey Dean as Fester helped narrate the story and played the eccentric uncle delightfully. Charlie Dey was born to play Wednesday Addams. She was breath-taking in performance and character with a voice that sounded like it belongs on a West End stage.

James Lay and Eliza Christy were the polar opposites for the Addams in their portrayals of Mal and Alice Beineke. They played well against each other and confirmed that “normal” isn’t always a better life choice. Lucas Beineke, played marvellously by Louis Hearsey, was dashing and conflicted before realising his feelings for Wednesday in a daring act of bravery.

Well supported by Jessy N’Sukama as an excellent Lurch, Georgia Matthews as someone’s Grandmother (we never did find out whose!) and the entire ensemble who were terrific undead ancestors.

Congratulations to Thespis Theatrical Costumes and Donna Harrop for the clever costumes ranging from a young bride to a civil war soldier and all in between. Special mention must go to Jodie Michelle for polished, well drilled and original choreography ably performed by all involved. All were of an exceptional standard but the Tango de Amor was of the highest quality.

Jo Barnes has been a prominent figure at Brighton Theatre Group for many years now, both as a performer, and more recently as Musical Director for the youth group. She should be exceptionally proud as this was a vocally demanding show; the young cast pulling off five, six and seven part harmonies with seemingly little effort. I have seen Steve Gallant’s stage projections being used in a few productions in the last year. Their contribution to this production was more subtle however, it added a modern and dynamic layer to the set with moving photographs, and well designed, clever animations. Mike Medway’s lighting design was excellent. Helping shape the mood of the scenes with subtle changes and ensuring that all on stage were lit correctly whilst not washing out the projections. The sound, provided by Ben Lawrence was crisp and clear and maintained a good balance between the performers and the orchestra. Conducted by Carl Greenwood, the orchestra capably navigated Andrew Lippa’s score and although the bass was slightly overpowering the young cast on the very odd occasion, overall they were excellent. It is a shame that, due to the size of the venue and the lack of a traditional pit, they are shut out of sight away from the stage.

Brighton Theatre Group have always set the bar high and The Addams Family not only reaches that bar, but raises well above it. Congratulations to all involved in another superb production.