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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

The Addams Family Rates Three Finger Snaps
at the 5th Avenue Theatre

The Addams Family
Pippa Pearthree, Tom Corbeil, Douglas Sills, Cortney Wolfson, Sara Gettelfinger, Blake Hammond and Patrick D. Kennedy
Decades after a TV series version of Charles Addams' New Yorker cartoons were spun off into a cult classic ABC television series featuring an iconic and enduring Vic Mizzy theme song ("They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky ... the Addams family), a few memorable bars of said theme kick-off the overture to the 2010 Broadway musical version of The Addams Family whose revised national tour version recently began a Halloween season run at the 5th Avenue Theatre. Jersey Boys co-authors Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice's adaptation features all the most familiar characters from the Addams oeuvre in a plot that plays out like a re-tread of You Can't Take it With You, and Andrew Lippa's music and lyrics are pleasantly forgettable, but thanks to a game and gifted cast, The Addams Family earns three finger snaps out of four, as pure escapist entertainment.

Wednesday Addams (portrayed as a teenager in the musical rather than the somber child of previous adaptions) startles her ghoulish clan by inviting her "normal" boyfriend Lucas Beineke and his parents Mal and Alice to a family dinner. The two clans prove as compatible as oil and water, and tensions build when, during the Addams' favorite party game, "Full Disclosure," young Pugsley Addams slips a potion intended for his sister to the prim Alice, causing her to madly enact her pent-up frustrations. Mal intends to exit with his family in tow, when Wednesday blindsides Lucas by announcing they are engaged. Things look fairly grim for all the couples, but true love prevails, including a match-up between Uncle Fester and the Moon. No great spoilers here, it's all pretty straightforward musical comedy hokum, or in this case hocus-pocus. But the cast, directed with polish and pizzazz by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch (also the show's dazzling designers) under the supervision of Jerry Zaks, is so invested in the creepy kookiness that we giddily and willingly accept it.

As the self-centeredly suave Gomez Addams, Douglas Sills is the riveting center of the show, whether wooing Morticia with comic legerdemain, or dazzling the audience with his creamy, dreamy vocals that make such songs as the tender "Happy/Sad" and "Not Today" real stand-outs. As Morticia, Sara Gettelfinger comes into her own creepy glory in act two with the dark humored "Just Around the Corner," and she and Sills scintillate in their late in the show duet "Tango de Amour." Blake Hammond is the show-stealer as the rotund and altogether lovable Uncle Fester, and handles the score's best song, "The Moon and I," with warmth and comic panache. Patrick D. Kennedy is right on the money as young Pugsley and earns a nice hand with his solo "What If?" Gaelen Gilliland and Martin Vidnovic score in their own right as the benighted Beineke's, she with her giddy comic zeal during the wacky "Full Disclosure" sequence, and he when allowed to show off his own wonderful voice. Cortney Wolfson and Curtis Holbrook are well-paired as Wednesday and Lucas, and sparkle in their duet "Crazier Than You." Pippa Pearthree perfectly evokes the witchy old Grandma, and Tom Corbeil is ideally oddball as Lurch the family butler. Not to be outdone is a marvelous ensemble of Addams family ancestors who rise from the grave to add additional lustre to Serge Trujillo's characterful choreography.

The Addams Family runs through November 11, 2012 at the 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 5th Ave., Seattle. Single tickets start at $35. Go to www.5thavenue.org or call 206- 625-1900. For more information on the tour, please visit www.theaddamsfamilymusicaltour.com/.


Photo: Jeremy Daniel



- David Edward Hughes



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