The Addams Family

Date 9th December 2022
Society Springers Amateur Operatic & Dramatic Society
Venue The Brentwood Centre
Type of Production Musical
Director Rebecca Webber and Ben Miller
Musical Director Callum Bates

Report

Author: Katherine Tokley

The Addams Family

Springers

Friday 9th December

Brentwood Theatre

 

I grew up with the early 1990's Addams Family films as a firm favourite on recorded VHS. The opening tableau of the whole family group in the packed out Brentwood Theatre however gave me a nostalgic glow and it was reassuring that the musical had lovingly kept all expected attributes. As too had the directors, Rebecca Webber and Ben Miller, with all cast dressed in perfect reflection of this kooky, much loved family, standing onstage with two levels, a sitting room, staircase and graveyard, from which the well coordinated ancestors emerged to help tell their story. The set had many surprises to enhance the use of the limited space, with a hidden drawbridge entrance and torture wheel to boot. Despite a few shadows cast on the top level, some minor blocking issues and unfortunately an obscured view of 'Thing' as he whizzed across the stage floor to deliver a cigar, the set was very impressive and used to full potential.

Gomez Addams, played by James Wilkins, was a powerful lead, with strong vocals and endless energy. His beloved wife Morticia, was played by Sophie Holmes, who was perfectly composed and mysterious throughout, with a withering stare and meticulous movement, who seemed to glide across the floor in gothic fashion. Their offspring, the challenging Wednesday and mischievous Pugsley, played by Tillie Wanless and Sophie Brett completed the core of the family. Playing the rebellious daughter, craving normality from their antisocial tendencies,  Tillie was a great performer, with power and great vocal control particularly in her song 'New Direction'. The 'Song Happy/Sad' delivered by Gomez to Wednesday was a touching moment and showed their father/daughter bond was strong, despite their lifestyle choices.  Sophie Brett's scream cut right through the audience whilst joyfully being tortured, and was a great depiction of a jealous younger brother wanting his sister to still be his playmate despite her maturing years.
Fester Addams, the brother of Gomez, was hilarious and played with glee by Alfie Back. A young actor for the role, he carried the eccentricity of the character strongly, and was a very watchable performer. The audience warmed to him very quickly, with an innocence about him as he proclaimed his love for the moon. Another very strong singer who worked the audience well.
Grandma Addams played by Deborah Anderson was not given as much stage time by the writers as perhaps she deserved. Keenly rude, innapropriate and well played.
Lurch, played by Jack Funnell, was perhaps a more difficult character to pull off. Wearing built up shoes to accentuate height, having little facial expression and no lines as standard, the young actor didn't have an easy time, but managed to pull laughs with his deadpan expression only failing once or twice as he clearly enjoyed his role. I hope in future he has some lines to learn!
The Beineke family, living the American Dream, shattered the dark lives of the Addams and perfectly jarred the macabre mood as they attended dinner. Mal Beineke, played by Julian Harbrow, portrayed the All American dad well, baffled by Gomez, and also by his wife when she was poisoned in error by Pugsley. Lucas, played by Charlie Toland was a mirror opposite of Wednesday; outgoing, cheerful, and simply in love, you couldn't help but root for him. Alice was played by Kate Diaz, with strength to carry the transition from a soccer mom who talks in simpering poetry to an enlightened, enraged and truthful woman who wasn't afraid to let go and release the inhibition she had been forced to hide. A very empowering and liberating scene to end act one.

The ancestors throughout were a strong chorus, and each costume lovingly reflecting well known characters of previous musicals. I enjoying seeing how many I could identify - Dorothy, The Demon Barber and a Pink Lady among them. Perhaps a little more distracting in quieter scenes than intended, however in the group performances they created drama and comedy well together. Dances sequences choreographed by Aimee Hart were kept low key but tight for the small stage, and the Tango scene was enjoyable to watch. It's a shame the orchestra were behind the scenes, I often like to peer into the music pit to watch the hidden magic that brings the scenes together, however this was another difficulty with the change of usual location, and the balance between orchestra and volume of the actors with their mikes was perfect; I barely missed a word.
Altogether, this was a well thought out, clever production who took full advantage of their experienced cast and crew.

 

Katherine Tokley