The Addams Family continues at the New Wimbledon Theatre, London until 20 May and tours the UK until 4 November 2017.
Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Andrew Lippa, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s gloriously ghoulish musical take on The Addams Family is enjoying its UK professional premiere with a tour that started off in Edinburgh earlier this year and reached London for its press night this week. It’s a show not to be missed – it has more than enough glitz and polish to rival anything in the West End, and has a cast that is to die for…
I was lucky enough to catch the original Broadway outing of The Addams Family back in 2010 (with Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth) and was always surprised that it didn’t make it to the UK.
Amateur productions aside, the only chance we Brits got to hear its roster of great songs was in 2014, when composer-lyricist Andrew Lippa spent a few weeks at the Menier Chocolate Factory and treated us to a selection of numbers courtesy of Caroline O’Connor, Damian Humbley and Summer Strallen.
This has now been rectified thanks to Aria Entertainment and Music & Lyrics, who are taking on tour the Edinburgh Festival Theatre production, directed by the ever-reliable Matthew White.
From the opening number – Gomez Addams (the charming Cameron Blakely) introducing us to the family, “alive, dead and undecided” – we’re treated to a high-end, big-budget production that perfectly fleshes out Addams’ quirky characters.
The casting is faultless, the costumes and sets are lavish, it sounds fantastic and the story is fun enough to engage kids and adults alike.
Our narrator for the evening is Uncle Fester, played by a very-on-form Les Dennis. He was, for me, a revelation, although a quick peek at his biography of course reveals a decent musical theatre pedigree – Me and My Girl, Chicago, Spamalot and Hairspray.
Shamefully, my snobbery also extended to Samantha Womack as Morticia. What may at first seem like the cynical casting of a popular EastEnders regular, the choice of the excellent actress is absolutely the right one.
She’s got Morticia’s look and mannerisms nailed (to say nothing of the killer cheekbones!), and she’s on top form vocally. She also demonstrates great comic artistry in ‘[Death is] Just Around the Corner’, one of the highlights of Act II.
Likewise, Carrie Hope Fletcher and Grant McIntyre as Wednesday and Pugsley can’t be faulted – top marks for ‘Pulled’, Carrie! – and, funnest of all is Dickon Gough as the zombyish butler Lurch, who gets the biggest laugh of the night towards the end of the show.
Brava also to Charlotte Page, who plays the uptight mother of Wednesday Addams’ boyfriend Lucas (Oliver Ormson). When she turns from meek and mild to raunchy and risqué – the result of accidentally imbibing a magical potion, of course – she tears the roof off.
A supporting cast of 10 ‘ancestors’ looks amazing, thanks to the wardrobe department’s Jocelyn Corderoy and Claire Wallwork, and wigs/make-up designer Jennifer Maiquez.
Moving them around in great style is choreographer Alistair David – the dancing is spectacular – and the setting rivals anything you’d see on the West End thanks to designer Diego Pitarch’s dynamic staircases and flying walls.
The eight-strong orchestra – covering 13 instruments with doubling – is led by MD Andrew Hilton and sounds an awful lot bigger than it is. Hats off to head of sound Rob Jones for the faultless balance.
In all, this is a slick, stylish production of a jolly, entertaining romp. The book isn’t perfect – it’s occasionally clunky and inconsistent, and could do with more of the killer one-liners – but it stays on the right side of camp/naughty, so there’s plenty for the adults to snigger at while still engaging the younger family members.
The Addams Family has got a lovely, warm message about family values, love and the importance of passion – in whatever it is you do – and Lippa’s words and music are a joy. As touring productions go, it has to be up there among the best on offer.