It took more than two years, but the creative team behind the musical “The Addams Family” deserves a chorus of finger snaps for finally getting it right.
The show in its current (and, hopefully, final) incarnation is a sheer delight and rightfully deserves to be the hottest show in town. It’s a pity that its initial run was cut short by a week. The touring production is far superior to the pre-Broadway that opened here a couple of years ago and even the recently-closed Broadway production. It’s a horrifyingly humorous romp that shouldn’t be missed.
The plot involves Wednesday Addams (Cortney Wolfson whose big voice contradicts her lithe body) who has fallen in love with Lucas Beineke (a likeable Brian Justin Crum). The pair are polar opposites. She’s an Addams and he’s from Ohio. She is impulsive. He is reserved Yet, the pair have fallen in love.
Addam Family matriarch Gomez (Douglas Sills, who manages to better the original Broadway Gomez Nathan Lane in his comic delivery) finds out about his daughter’s engagement and Wednesdays guilts her father into keeping the secret until the two families can meet and make an honest assessment of each other without the Damocles sword of a wedding hovering above everyone’s heads.
Gomez and Morticia (Sara Gettelfinger, who is far more sexy, alluring and a better singer than Broadway’s original Morticia, Bebe Neuwirth) pride themselves on their frank, open and honest relationship and Gomez quickly realizes he’s trapped and bound to upset one of the two women in his life.
Meanwhile, the bald and slightly asexual Uncle Fester (the hilarious Blake Hammond) is pining for his love (the moon; this is the Addams Family afterall). Wednesday’s masocist little brother Pugsley (Patrick D. Kennedy) frets that his sister’s boyfriend will put a crimp in his sister torturing him. Grandma (Pippa Pearthree) just wants to be left alone with her potions and herbal remedies in the attic. Lurch (the bellowing bass Tom Corbeil) the undead butler seems content to go about his duties.
The future in-laws are initially picture perfect, but it only take s a few scratches to see their dysfunctional flaws. Mal Beineke (Martin Vidnovic) is a controlling workaholic. His wife Alice (Victoria Huston-Elem, a terrific understudy in the role normally played by Crista Moore) is high-strung and prone to bouts of rhyming. Lucas finds himself at that fork in the where he must choose whether to disappoint his parents or himself as he marches to adulthood. Dad wants him to join the family business, but Lucas isn’t so sure.
For as kooky and altogether spooky as The Addams Family may be, the success of the franchise has always relied on the fact that the hopes, dreams, fears and problem they face at their core never stray from a familiar and immediately identifiable path (albeit a less well lit one).
While the situations are most often played for laughs, the comedic show is not without its touching moments, though. These include “Happy/Sad” in which Gomez attempts to explain how he really feels about his daughter growing up and Gomez and Morticia’s duet “Let’s Live Before We Die.”
Suffice to say, it’s worth spending a little time with “The Addams Family” at some point over the remaining holidays.
"The Addams Family" runs through Jan. 1, 2012 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph. Tickets, $37-$95. Call (800) 775-2000; broadwayinchicago.com.