OGDEN — The Addams Family, a 2010 Broadway musical based on the eponymous characters known in comic strips, TV shows, and movies, was written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. The Ziegfeld Theater’s production, directed by Eb Madson, is a fun evening of typical October entertainment that has become a recent favorite in Utah.
The lighting design by Hayden Wadsworth is apropos for the evening, with a darkish feel to the purple glow against the curtain backdrop. Slightly familiar music with a ghoulish undertone also adds to the ambiance before the show. Before the show, executive director and set designer Caleb Parry mentioned the current fundraiser to improve the sound system at the Ziegfeld. I am glad to hear it is going well, because this has often been my chief complaint of productions at this theatre, and today is no exception. In fact, The Addams Family mounted by the Ziegfeld is the best production of this particular show I have seen, with little glitches in the sound system being about the only significant complaint I could muster.
The story is of course about the “creepy and cooky” Addams family, and the familiar challenge and hilarity that ensues when young Wednesday Addams (played by fantastic newcomer to the Zig stage Karaline Taylor) brings home the seemingly absolutely normal Lucas Beineke (played by Colton Ward). Taylor and Ward perform well together, with their second act song, “Crazier than You” being a highlight.
While the Addams family is indeed a cooky bunch, the Beinekes definitely have their (pardon my pun) skeletons in the closet; mother Alice (played by the amusing Jeanette Marie Puhich) loves to rhyme, and the stern father Mal (played by Kevin Ireland) seems to have lost his true self in the difficulties of everyday life.
It can be a difficult balance for an actor to take on a role and bring some depth to it without being merely a copy of previous versions. But each of the Addams performers in the Ziegfeld production seemed to manage that balance with ease. The famous Gomez Addams is in strong hands with Jeremy R. Gross whom I didn’t even recognize, despite his memorable performances. To pull off such different characterizations shows the mark of a great artist. Morticia, the mystical death and pain loving goddess, is played by Teanca Rossouw with a sweet seduction that brought a different but interesting light to the character.
Of course, Uncle Fester is always a favorite, and Daniel Akin did not disappoint as he delivered many of the amusing lines with flair. Butler Lurch (played by Tyson Allred) was an unexpected delight, especially with some of his additions to the music throughout the evening. Pugsley (played by Isaac Allred) was the ideal annoying younger brother, and Taylor as Wednesday absolutely stole the show as an angsty teen sorting her feelings and torturing her brother in the song “Pulled.”
Because The Addams Family relies on the spooky feeling being paramount, the set, costumes, makeup, and general appearance of the stage are important. Luckily, the production team at the Ziegfeld understood this. Set design by Parry was intricate, from the elaborate castle of the Addams home to the forest outside and the graveyard of the ancestors. Yet it was not too cumbersome as to make for difficult or timely scene changes. Lighting by Wadsworth and sound design by Kyle Lawrence continued to be fantastic throughout the show, with specific moments such as the announcement of “the game” being a thrilling moment that really brought the Halloween spirit to the stage. Costumes by Becky Jeanne Knowles were detailed and impressive, and more than once I found myself planning a future Halloween outfit based upon what I was seeing on stage.
The Addams Family is a fun show that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it does revel in the creepy entertainment that has found popularity in the autumn season. The company at the Ziegfeld has found the balance between the obvious talent from the acting to the music, with the humor and lightheartedness this ghoulish tale needs. Having seen other productions of this show, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this particular rendition, which is a testament to the creative process that can lead to a fantastic production when all the team is on board with their best efforts.