This production is big on laughs but lacking in depth, and that’s just fine, says Richard O’Connor.
The Newcastle Glees production of The Addams Family opened last night to a sold-out Annesley Hall.
This Broadway comedy-hit is a deviation from the Glees usual fair of “golden-age” musicals.
Casting was outstanding with Gomez (Niall McLean), the suave, wise-cracking Addams patriarch and Wednesday (Sarah King), his coming of age daughter, in particular wowing the audience with their acting and singing abilities.
The play opens with an illicit engagement between Wednesday and “normal” boy Lucas Beineke (Chris Poland).
A culture clash ensues when Lucas’s all-American parents land at the Addams family mansion to meet their altogether more gothic future in-laws.
Both families are ordered by the young couple to act normal, and they oblige to comic effect. All goes well until a post-dinner engenders a series of fall-outs:
Mr Beineke (Dean Richman), not impressed by the spooky shenanigans on offer is at odds with his ditzy, more accepting wife (Emma Jane-McKnight). Vamp-like Morticia Adams (Carol-Anne McKay) is furious at Gomez for keeping the engagement a secret. And Wednesday breaks off the engagement when Lucas refuses to elope.
The story follows these couples as they proceed to make-up in time for the wedding finale, which in typical Addams style, takes on a comic-funereal aura.
Subplots, including Uncle Fester’s affair – and resultant offspring – with the moon, add to the zaniness of this 2.5 hour production.
This fast paced show is big on laughs with little plot or character development, but this is one of the reasons it is so enjoyable.
What it lacks in substance it makes up for in slap-stick and the sheer exuberance of its all-singing all-dancing antics.
The costumes are exceptional with the transformation of Glees old-hand Careen Starkey into the repulsive yet loveable Fester a master-stroke.
Equally breath-taking is the set which transports the audience from splendid wood-panelled interiors to minimalist steamy exteriors with ease, adding to the quick-fire feel of the show.
One scene stands-out for its deviation in tone from the rest, but also for the quality of the emotions portrayed:
Gomez runs into Wednesday in the the twilight and tells her he is happy she has found love but sad she is no-longer his little girl. This emotional dichotomy is beautifully expressed in the touching song “Happy-sad”.
The score is bursting with memorable tunes comparable to any Rodgers and Hammerstein ensemble, albeit with a more comical slant.
However the orchestra-pit standing empty was disappointing. The live music brought an extra touch of class to previous Glees productions and this atmosphere was lacking. I Hope to see its return in 2016.
Go see this show. It will certainly brighten up your evening.
Don’t expect to take much away from it except aching sides, catchy tunes and a realization that there is an outstanding pool of talent on your own doorstep.
Untill Saturday 21 March. Tickets: McCready’s Shoe Style, Newcastle, 02843723491