The Addams Family: A Review

by a Theatre Fan

13/05/2016

Sid Sidebottom and the Devonport Choral Society have once again delivered firsts for Devonport; the first performance of The Addams Family on the NW Coast and a first class production of this gothic musical comedy. Sid is known for his innovative choices of musical theatre and high production values and while this show may not be top of everyone’s list of favourite musicals it is undoubtedly as good as or better than anything the DCS has presented to date.

Many members of the capacity Opening Night audience came suitably dressed in gothic makeup and attire, expecting to see their pop culture heroes in “real life” and they wouldn’t have left disappointed. The Addams Family of cartoon, celluloid and TV fame were stunningly brought to life in living black and white (plus many shades of grey and some muted colours) by the family members, the Ancestors and the Beinekes.

Old love, new love, secrets, family and what it means to be “normal” are all explored in this wacky, humorous and spooky musical comedy.

The “glue” of the family and this production is Gomez, wonderfully portrayed by relative newcomer Mike Brooke. What a find he is for the DCS! From a supporting role in All Shook Up, to the lead in The Addams Family in only his second show, Mike is impressive in both his vocal and character work. He is wonderfully complemented by Carolyn Harris as his wife Morticia, who looks fabulous in her slinky black dress.

Their children, Wednesday (Bronwyn Darvell) and Pugsley (Gus Viney) both do justice to their roles. The torture scene in Act 1 was a comedy highlight. The family is completed by Uncle Fester (John Parry) who made the most of his fabulous comic role, and Grandma Addams (Julie-Anne Jolly) who looked amazing and also made the most of her comic opportunities.

The faithful butler Lurch (Les Van Oosten) gave a “ towering” performance and nearly stole the show when he finally found voice!

The Addams Family Ancestors looked fabulous in their take on fifty shades of grey. Their ensemble work was tight and terrific.

The muted colours were provided by the Beinekes – Wednesday’s love interest, Lucas (Alastair Yeates) – what an interesting pair they make — and his parents Alice (Tash Turner) and Mal (Tim Squire). Supposedly the “normal” family in this show (but as Morticia says “normal is an illusion”) the Beinekes prove her correct. Tash’s performance at the dinner party, when under the influence of the “dark-truth” potion was outstanding.

The Addams Orchestra under the direction of David Turner was excellent, although on rare occasions the balance between the instruments and voices was missing and lyrics were lost. A musical and choreographic (Elizabeth Viney) highlight was the Tango De Amor – it left both the dancers and audience breathless!

The sets, both in terms of construction (Barry Hardy) and design/painting (Jenny Slater and Belinda Gunson) were outstanding. The gothic gates, complete with gargoyles, were magnificent, as were the staircases in the Addams Family mansion. The sets were brilliantly functional as well as visually stunning. Scene changes were slick and the lighting design, by Nick Glen, and function showed the performances and sets off to their best advantage.

Who would have thought that black and white and fifty shades of grey (plus a little colour) could looks so wonderful? As good as the Family outfits were, the Ancestor costumes were outstanding. The attention to detail and myriad shades of grey made the ensemble “stand out” – Wendy McCrae take a bow! The costumes were complemented by fabulous hair and makeup, on both the living and the dead!

Special mention needs to be made of the special effects – the Addams Family mansion projection, the woman in the moon and Uncle Fester’s flight to the moon added to the slick professional presentation of this production.

The creative team of Sid, Shayne Lowe, David Turner and Elizabeth Viney and the production team headed by Maree Brodzinski and John Lee-Archer have created and presented a slick, entertaining and ultimately heat-warming show. One that will long be remembered by the audiences who saw it.

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