Review: The Addams Family Musical (Alexander Showcase Theatre)

The Alexander Showcase Theatre presents The Addams Family Musical in Toronto

DSC_9002The Alexander Showcase Theatre is producing The Addams Family Musical at the Fairview Library Theatre. I loved the Addams family growing up: I watched the original 60’s series in syndication, and the two wonderful movies from the 90’s. Their light-hearted take on the gothic appealed to me, as did the love they had for each other as a family, particularly the bond between Gomez and Morticia. To this day it is not common to see a healthy, loving, communicative romantic partnership on television.

The musical has perhaps half the wit of the series and movies, and a measure of the charm, but it lacks the unique heart. There are a few aspects contributing to that – none the least that the plot is standard musical fare, a love story between Wednesday and a “normal” boy, and the clash between their families.

But there is also something missing in the relationship between Gomez and Morticia. Perhaps there was little spark between the two actors in this production, but even as-written there wasn’t the subversive dynamic that I loved. Which is to say: the Gomez and Morticia that I know were in a D/S relationship where Morticia was the domme. Even when I was young and not as well versed in such things as I am today, I still understood in some way that while Gomez may wear the pants, Morticia held the whip. Without that context, it’s extremely creepy when Gomez makes “jokes” about chloroforming her.

The Alexander Showcase Theatre has obviously put a lot of work into this production. The set is ambitious and impressive, transforming from a cemetery to the spooky dining hall, and other locations on the Addams’ estate. The costuming and makeup were excellent.

But it was hard for me not to notice when the actors were finding their marks on the stage instead of moving in character. And I found it distracting that black-hoodied crew members came out to manipulate the set – I haven’t seen that for years and there were about a million ghosts in the chorus who could have done it. The other element that encroached on my immersion in the show were intrusively sizable mics attached to people’s faces with tape that didn’t seem strong enough to withstand the actors sweating.

I’m sure they didn’t have the resources to mic the stage but something should have been done about the levels. The main characters were very loud and the chorus was a faint background noise that I had to strain to hear. This was particularly apparent in numbers where chorus members had lines of their own, which were entirely lost to me.

Morticia’s (Sharon Zehavi) wry delivery (and her decolletage) were a pleasure to watch, and she seemed very committed to her character. Wednesday (Lauren Mayer) had my attention from the first number, where she kept a stern, angst-ridden demeanour even while bunny-hopping. She also had quite the set of pipes, as did Mrs Beineke (Lizzie Kurtz), Wednesday’s boyfriend’s mother, who has a breakdown after being surreptitiously drugged by Pugsley (Anthony Palermo.)

Lurch (David McEachern), the half-undead butler gave the audience a lovely surprise at the end with a song in a beautiful bass voice. Uncle Fester (Brandon Chambers) is competently amusing as a goofy lover of love.

The Addams Family Musical has its failings, some of which are in the script itself, but it’s enjoyable and shows promise for a few of its cast.

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Photo of Lauren Mayer and Anthony Palermo by Peter Yeung

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