Don't judge me. Critics may have knocked The Addams Family musical from New York to Seattle, but I loved it.
The Addams Family is not the best musical you'll ever see. It's light, inconsequential, and at times overly sentimental in the way that musicals often can be. And Andrew Lippa's entertaining but unmemorable score is so clichéd it had my 15-year-old daughter asking questions about copyright law. But the irreverent, gag-filled book by Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman (who cowrote some of Woody Allen's funniest movies, including Sleeper, Annie Hall, and Manhattan) is damn funny, and the talented cast of this Broadway touring company confidently hits nearly every punch line.
"Excuse me, do you have a little girls' room?" a houseguest asks Gomez, played by the appropriately over-the-top Douglas Sills. "We used to," Sills deadpans, "but we let them all go." Sills patiently waits for the slower audience members to get the joke. They do.
The production is also aided by a Broadway- caliber set that flies and glides and goes to great lengths to create the briefest sight gags, like animated curtain tassels or a monster underneath the bed. Blake Hammond often steals his scenes as the playfully mischievous Uncle Fester, but in the best musical number of the show, "The Moon and Me," the scene returns the favor with clever lighting and aerial staging that is simply a joy to watch. Even Morticia's brassiere proves a special-effects wonder, almost but never quite fully revealing Sara Gettelfinger's ample breasts, no matter the dance steps.
This is a production rich in the sort of stagecraft one expects for the price of a Broadway ticket.
The musical is based more on the original Charles Addams cartoons for the New Yorker than the subsequent TV show or movies; therefore, fans of the latter might need a few moments to adjust. It is also hard to shake the images of Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, the original Broadway stars around whom these musical versions of Gomez and Morticia were clearly developed.
But if Sills and Gettelfinger never quite make their characters their own, the show never suffers from it. Uniformly strong performances, powerful voices, top-notch production values, and a steady stream of off-the-wall, laugh-out-loud gags overcome the show's so-so score and its hackneyed girl-brings-boy-and-his-parents-home-to-meet-the-family story line.
The Addams Family is no Broadway classic. You likely won't walk out of the theater humming a tune, let alone dying to download the cast album. But it's a perfect treat for the Halloween holiday: totally insubstantial but enormously satisfying. GOLDY