The Addams Family was performed by students from the MGA Academy of Performing Arts at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh.
I have one, simple problem with The Addams Family musical (music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice). Having grown up watching the 1960s US TV series, and then having discovered the glorious Charles Addams cartoons which had inspired it, The Addams Family to me is a necessarily monochrome world where the usual standards of behaviour are overturned. Even the two feature films were careful to restrict themselves, at least within the Addams household, to a limited colour palate of darker hues.
The Family’s Broadway reincarnation, however, would appear to be one of brighter, primary hues – especially of blood red, ‘unimaginative’ yellow and chilling blue. And, instead of just a delicious inversion of societal norms, the Addams now embody a spirit of individuality and independence. Both of these slightly grate, to be honest. However, given this somewhat disconcerting reimagining, it’s fair to say that this new production from Edinburgh’s MGA Academy of Performing Arts – almost criminally on for just three performances at the city’s King’s Theatre – proved a delightfully entertaining evening and an excellent showcase for current students who bode well for the future of musical theatre in the UK.
The Addams’ daughter Wednesday has fallen in love with a young man called Lucas, and has invited his somewhat staid parents to dinner with the hope that they can announce their engagement. Complications arise when she asks her father, Gomez, not to tell her mother Morticia in advance; she, of course, immediately senses that her husband is – for the first time ever – keeping a secret from her. And then there’s Lucas’ parents; tight-necked Mal isn’t impressed by the Addams, while his wife Alice has almost lost herself in his shadow.
There’s no doubt that The Addams Family musical provides numerous opportunities for the academy’s students to showcase their talents, not least the dancers with their exuberant and precise choreography. Yet, while there were clearly some stars of tomorrow on the King’s Theatre stage that evening, this was ultimately a showcase for the team. It was a cohesive team at work and any extraneous business (the butler Lurch taking a few selfies on a mobile phone, for example) added to the whole.
To give as many of the academy’s students an opportunity to perform as possible, most of the main roles were dual cast. The opening Friday night cast, however, was an excellent taste of what was on offer. George Fanzio’s tango-mad Gomez was fun and he was well-matched by Abigail Stenhouse’s authoritative and sexy Morticia. Kieran Wynne entertained without much need for dialogue as the butler Lurch, while Peter Vint found the honest romance in Uncle Fester’s heart. Special mention must go, however, to Rebecca Gilhooley as Wednesday; while often dressed like a goth Peter Pan, she brought the voice and depth of character that the role very much demanded.
Brought together with great panache by director Andrew Gowland, this was undoubtedly a production that would be worthy of London’s West End in both scale and talent. I might have my doubts about the musical, but absolutely none about its presentation on this occasion!
Paul F Cockburn