THE ADDAMS FAMILY

Date 29th November 2019
Society Enniskillen Light Operatic Society
Venue Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen
Type of Production Musical
Director John McCann assisted by Danielle Hicks-Gallagher
Musical Director Aideen McNamara
Choreographer Shauneen Hamilton

Report

Author: Sheelagh Hobart

Based on Charles Addams’ cartoons of the 1930s and the 1960s TV series, the stage musical with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa opened in Chicago in 2009 and Broadway a year later. The UK premier was in Edinburgh in April 2017. Since 2015 “The Addams Family’ has become a firm favourite with amateur groups.

ELO’s set was a detailed interior of the family mansion which was very impressive. Dark wood panelling effect with two staircases , a top landing and lower half landings. Various props and pool lighting created different small scenes such as the boudoir, torture cellar etc. and excellent graveyard gates (although I would have preferred them to have been more isolated with lighting from the main set behind. A large portion of the back wall opened up to allow the family Ancestors to appear out of the crypt through smoke for their annual meeting with the living family which was really effective. An interesting bookcase full of vintage books and manuscripts pivoted onstage to reveal the large marital bed!  Lighting varied from very effective to rather too bright; Sound and effects were all on cue. The usual well known types of apparel were worn by the principals; Ancestors’s costumes were particularly good – a great variety designed and made in house, in whites and greys, and ghoulish make-up to match. Congratulations to those people involved with these.

Head of the family Addams was Jack Francis as Gomez. Apparently of Spanish descent, he maintained his accent throughout even when singing. His ‘Latin Lover’ character portrayed with his wife was good and he enjoyed lots of “double entendre” in his dialogue! He could change from frenetic sometimes to gentle and sensitive (as in his lovely “Happy/Sad” number.) Brenda Swift played Morticia – his wife and perhaps the real head of the family!? Her macabre allure was epitomised by the removal of the flower heads in a bouquet and requesting that what was left be put in a vase!!  

Daughter Wednesday (Laura Hughes) maintained her monotonous facial expression and acted out her struggle between ‘darkness’ and ‘light’ very well. When singing, her lower register voice was amazing but she was very tentative in higher register.  Brother Pugsley (Dylan McGorman) was the mischievous boy who loved being tortured on a rack by his sister and then caused mayhem when he stole a magical potion from his grandma and accidently gave it to the wrong person at the dinner party. Alison Lappin captured the feisty character of the aforesaid Grandma with huge frizzy hair and funny walk although she could have developed even more quirky ‘tics’ as the zany old woman.

Last family member was Uncle Fester played by Ryan Higgins, who perfectly assumed the character of the strange childlike man who has fallen in love with the moon. In spite of being tall and thin when the script described him as ‘fat” and wearing a truly awful bald cap (very obviously a white thin-rubber swim cap) his energetic portrayal of the somewhat deranged Fester was a huge success!

Rhys Hopkins took the role of Lucas Beineke – the ‘normal’ young man who Wednesday has fallen in love with. They had a good rapport with each other – typically awkward to begin with but gaining in confidence as they sang “Crazier than You!”. Lucas’ parents – the ultra-conservative Mal (Francis Kearney) and Alice (Amanda Finch) showed their comedic side when transformed into the hippy couple of their youth. Amanda’s slide along the table after mistakenly drinking Grandma’s magic potion and telling many home truths about her marriage was hilarious ! Finally, the butler Lurch was played in the usual non-verbal manner by Dave Rees. He grunted and groaned his way through the show with straight face and pondering walk, till surprising everybody by breaking into song (equally slowly) at the end!

As MD Aideen taught the difficult, sometimes discordant and widely diverse styles of music well and choral singing was good. The 7 piece band under the baton of Stephen Crookes was well controlled. Directors John and Danielle and Choreographer Shauneen brought the main chorus of Ancestors into a lot of the action and movement which was very successful.Their ‘interest’ in the principal characters whilst remaining ‘invisible’ to them added an extra dimension. A couple of local and current remarks were added to the script and went down well with the audience! But my favourite line is still – “My mother!? I thought she was your mother!?”

My thanks to everyone involved with this show for giving James and me a great evening’s entertainment.

Well worth the lengthy car journey!